Is it wrong to have a healthy sense of worth? To feel contented? No. But how we attain it matters. When we gain a feeling of self-worth through an understanding of God and man, we'll find it's secure and wholesome. If, however, we look for self-esteem through personality and egotism, our sense of it will be variable and dependent on circumstances.
We find genuine contentment through understanding that man is now the satisfied, complete, spiritual image of God, divine Love, as the Bible teaches. Only as we begin to discern our spiritual sonship with God will we establish a secure sense of conscious worth, which heals discontent.
Wanting to feel worthwhile may lead us to think we have to be better than others. We beat our own chests and ''psych'' ourselves into thinking we're a step above the next guy. Yet in God's sight we are all important. We're His individual, valued offspring, not mortals struggling to be better than other mortals. God loves each one of us completely and thoroughly. And since God loves each one of His children equally, there's no need to jockey for position.
At one point Christ Jesus' disciples were arguing about who would be the most important among them. Their Master said: ''He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.'' n1 To the Christian world no one is more important than Christ Jesus. At the same time, no one has served God and his fellowman so completely and practically through his expression of divine Love, through healing the sick and sinning.
n1 Luke 22:26, 27.
I recall the healing effect of expressing divine Love when I had reached a low point of melancholy and self-pity. It was tempting to think I could feel good about myself through personal self-esteem. I rehearsed my talents and thought of how important I was to family and friends. But I wasn't getting a grip on things.
As a Christian Scientist, I knew the real answer would come only through prayer. So I acknowledged in prayer that man is actually the expression of divine Love and that God is satisfied with His creation. I knew that by recognizing my true, spiritual identity as God's loved expression, I would find conscious worth.
Then in the midst of this prayer the thought came that I should start thinking of others more. What was needed was less self-consciousness and more selflessness. Immediately I went out and bought a dictionary for a family I knew. They needed one for their library, and I was sure it would please them very much. It did.
This may seem a very small incident. But the joy it brought to me has lasted ever since. Often I have thought of that break-through experience. It taught me that to express love toward others - in whatever way is appropriate - secures happiness and a feeling of individual worth. Expressing God's love, we're being who we really are - the manifestation of Love, and Love's manifestation is always satisfied.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''To do good to all because we love all, and to use in God's service the one talent that we all have, is our only means of adding to that talent and the best way to silence a deep discontent with our shortcomings.'' n2
n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 195.
The desire to find our worth is a right one. God's love for His children satisfies man. The demand is to turn from the shallowness of mortal personality, physical selfhood, egotism. They can't help us anchor our lives in true dignity and worth.
The spiritual fact is that we're already and eternally the joyful expression of divine Love. As we come to understand this truth and practice living it every day, we'll find our worth. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. . . . Put on. . . bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long- suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Colossians 3:2, 12-14