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Worthy - Luke 15:21-24

by Melody Slawter

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”

Luke 15:21-24

So much about our society focuses on building up our sense of worth.

Perhaps because there’s a perception that worth equals value? That for me to be valuable, I must be worthy and must bring something to the table? Or if I’m not worthy, I need to become worthy somehow.

If we feel unworthy, we can feel hopeless. Maybe a sense that if we aren’t worthy, we won’t be loved, we won’t belong, we won’t have purpose. Or that we shouldn’t have those things.

But our worth is not part of God’s equation.

When God’s Word (so when God Himself) talks about our value, His love, and the purpose He brings to our lives – He doesn’t talk about our worth. He doesn’t frame it into what we “should” have. It just isn’t part of the discussion. Jesus’ sacrifice, taking on our sin and shame and the punishment that goes along with it, eliminated all the “shoulds.”

What I’ve been processing this week is this:

It isn’t about whether I’m worthy. It’s about the reality that I am so, so loved.

Contemplating this, my mind is drawn to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. A beautiful portrayal of the love of God for us and His readiness to welcome us in and pour out His love when we come home to Him. The son insults his father deeply and casts him aside, he squanders his inheritance unrighteously and is left with nothing, he realizes the depth of his wrong choices and comes back humbly, declaring his unworthiness and likely struggling to look his father in the eye as he prepares to ask for a position as a servant. His father runs to him and throws his arms around this beloved son. He doesn’t speak to his son’s worthiness at all, but simply proceeds to pour out love and favor and calls all to celebrate his son’s homecoming.

This is what God does for us. He seeks us out. He runs to us as we turn from our darkness to come toward Him. He wraps us up in love as we cry out our sorrow for our unworthiness.

Because seeing our sin, becoming aware of how far we fall short, brings sorrow. Yet that sorrow is purposed for our joy, because godly sorrow leads us to repentance and abundant, eternal life with the One who makes us whole.

When we see our unworthiness, let that magnify our awe. Because rather than throwing us away as useless, God sees us in our sin and He comes for us in great love, declaring, “This one is Mine.” He sees a beloved child of His and wants to draw us close, to wrap us up in His holiness and transform us to be like Him. He doesn’t leave us sitting in our sorrow; He picks us up and frees us to run on His paths of righteousness and joy.

The point isn’t about us being worthy. And while He clothes us in His righteousness and will present us blameless before His throne in joy, I don’t perceive a point in which He makes us worthy. That isn’t our aim either. Because we will never have deserved His mercy and grace. From a “should” perspective, it shouldn’t have happened. But Jesus eliminated the “shoulds,” and gave us His glory and grace and light and life instead.

That’s why we will worship Him forever. The song of our salvation, our awe at His love for us – we’ll never get tired of it. We will forever be amazed at our God.

Our God who hears us. Our God who sees us and meets us where we are in compassion. Our God who works in us to purify our hearts and show us life as it is meant to be lived. Our God who captures our tears in a bottle. Our God who fights for us. Our God who sings and rejoices over us. Our God who sees our needs and provides, for we are of much more value than sparrows. Our God who is mighty to save, no matter how far we have fallen. Our God who says, “You belong here, because I have made you Mine.” Our God who loves us without taking worth into account, and who shows us that our loving others, and their loving us, should never be about worth either.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”

Luke 15:17-20

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:1-9

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:6-8