Are You Worth It?: A Redemptive View of Self Worth
Written by Riley Davis
Working in campus ministry for the past eight years, I’ve had the joy of walking alongside a variety of students in their spiritual journeys. From fraternity guys to rugby players to BIPOC students to marching band members, God has allowed me to connect with folks from all sorts of different backgrounds.
But one thing that remains constant among almost every college student is this: they all wrestle with their self-worth. Often, this struggle manifests in different ways — some students compensate for insecurities with performance, some seek to drown them out with excess and some seek to avoid them with isolation. But thankfully, when we look to God’s word, we see our worth comes from something much greater than our accomplishments and our networks.
Psalm 8 is one of my favorite passages that speaks into this topic. David’s psalm parallels the creation narrative of Genesis 1 — both in its content and in its rhythm and cadence. Here’s what it says:
Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with your majesty.
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.
Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
To start, we see David offer adoration to the Lord. He moves from there into a shout-out to infants and babies and the ways that they praise God (something tells me David would share this part specifically with Waypoint!) Then, he marvels at God’s creation — as he observes the sun and the moon above him, he can’t help but marvel at the Lord’s handiwork. This introduction compels awe and worship from us as well.
But then, in verse 4, a shift occurs. Notice this — he starts talking about human beings. Specifically, this applies to us. Through verse 8, David tells us that God deemed us royal and allows us to steward his creation — even though we lack the physical strength of "animals in the wild” and many of the “fish of the sea,” we're given this incredible calling.
Think about this: if God constructed the world with this incredible precision — and then endowed it to us — can you imagine how intentional he was in forming human life? He didn’t slap something together and call it “human.” Instead, he creates us with design, structure and purpose.
But as stated at the start, we often forget this. We see our world’s obsession with formulating our own image through TV, movies, music, and of course, social media. It reminds me of these lyrics:
“Missin' out on my years / There's times when I wish I was where I was back when I used to wish I was here / Missin' out on my days / Scrollin’ through life and fishin' for praise / Opinions from total strangers take me out of my ways / I try and see who's there on the other end of the shade / Most times it's just somebody that's underage / That’s probably just alone and afraid / And lashin' out so that someone else can feel they pain” - Drake “Emotionless”
Keep in mind — these words come from Drake, one of the most famous and wealthy persons in the country. And yet, he still finds himself looking for the approval of others. I believe that a desire to know God’s view of our identity whispers subtly through the lyrics.
But that’s why I’m grateful that God let’s us in on the truth. The same purpose Psalm 8 applies to the general and universal also applies to the personal and particular. Genesis 1, the inspiration for the Psalm, tells us as much. God designed us for beauty:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Everything that we rule over in Psalm 8 reminds us of our ruler. We were made in the image of God to show us there is a God. His say is the final say. And because of that, our image is not our creation. It’s His.
And what more does God say about us? Let’s look at Genesis 1:31, that immediately follows the creation of mankind:
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Throughout the creation of the world, Genesis tells us God “saw that [whatever he made] was good.” The brilliance of the sun, the uniqueness of the stars, the unbridled strength of the animals — all of those evoked a “good” from God. But, as my father once taught me, the “very good” treatment came when God surveyed the created order and humans. It’s almost as if he designed us as the finishing touch of his masterpiece.
Universe: good. Galaxies: good. Oceans: good. Great White Sharks: good. Mt. Everest: good. Grand Canyon: good. Cameron Indoor Stadium: meh. Amazon Rain Forest: good. Men and women: VERY GOOD. You and me: VERY GOOD. Born in stability: VERY GOOD. Come from dysfunction: VERY GOOD. English speaker: VERY GOOD. International student: VERY GOOD. Full-ride scholarship: VERY GOOD. Trying to make ends meet: VERY GOOD. Raise a toast to celebrate: VERY GOOD. Recovering alcoholic: VERY GOOD. Not just good. VERY GOOD.
And when we understand that this is the framework for which David composed his hymn of praise, our perspective on God, ourselves, and others changes. Our image is not our creation. It’s His.