“Prove your worth!” This relentless demand is sometimes subtle, sometime unmistakable and at its core looks to events, things, and people to validate and prove worth. It is a temptation that focuses on appearances and keeps you from living in the solid truth that you are a loved child of God. It is confidence found in positive feedback and validation from others, rather than confidence in God.
Take a moment and think about the ways you are tempted to prove your worth. Why do you do the things you do, behave the way you behave or choose to pursue and do the things you do? Are you seeking proof that you are valuable, wanted, worthy, accepted and loved? Are you consistently worried about how things appear or will be judged by others? Do you feel this desire for proof of worth more strongly when the pain and struggle of life overwhelm you?
Jesus faced this same temptation. After experiencing the heavens breaking open, and the Father stating his love and pleasure in Him, he was led by the Spirit into the desert and faced 40 days of no food, loneliness, harsh conditions and overall lack. Then, to make matters worse, evil showed up and said, “IF you are the Son of God, then…”
It is easy to read those words in Matthew chapter 4 and not take the time to imagine what it must have been like. Deserts are desolate, filled with danger, dry, uncomfortable and lonely. The desert is a picture of hardship and lack. Jesus was not only physically in the desert, but emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.
Evil went right to the heart of things with the attack, packing a punch with the opening word, “if…” IF you are really the Son of God, you would not be suffering. Maybe your Father really does not care about you, or even knows what He is doing. Prove your value and worth by fixing this issue. Come on, just turn those stones into bread, use your own power, strength, and ability to fix the pain. If you were really God’s Son and loved, you would not be experiencing this pain and hardship.
Not that long ago I found myself in an extended desert experience. Life no longer made sense. Variations of “If you are, then…” flooded my mind and affected my heart. I found myself begging God to tell me what I needed to do to make the pain stop? I bargained, tried things, turned to rules, regulations anything to try and make the pain go away. In the dark and lonely hours of the night, I just wanted to stop hurting – I did not want to live anymore but I also did not want to exist in eternity with a God who had allowed my worst fears to be realized. There was no escape. The messages sent to my mind that I was not loved, God was not pleased, and that I was not doing enough, were agonizing. I was stuck on a hamster wheel of performance-based, if I do this then He will do that relationship with God and did not know how to get off. Evil whispered, “If you are really loved by God, then…”
Perhaps you are experiencing the “If you are, then…” temptation. It is an invitation from evil to prove your worth and value.
- Prove you are a loving parent by ensuring….
- Prove you are an excellent student by…
- Prove you are a good person by…
- Prove you are a worthy employee by…
- Prove you are a loving spouse by…
- Prove you are worth loving…
- Prove you are worth…
- Prove you are
- Prove you
This invitation to prove goes against the truth that you are loved and enough. You will never be able to produce enough proof. There will always be a call to do more, be more, prove more. The truth is, you are already worthy and there is no need to prove it. You were created by God with worth, and as his child you are worthy, your existence has already been validated, your worth priceless. You are wholly loved.
For me, the pain of learning that being loved is NOT performance based was beyond agonizing. But as I look back on those dark days, I am grateful for that suffering, because through that desert journey, I was set free to experience God’s gift of grace and love. I was being taught to live by every word that comes from God. God was inviting me to meditate on and accept that I am wholly loved, wanted, cherished and of value beyond price. Instead of running myself ragged trying to produce enough proof in response to all the evil voices demanding evidence, evidence that would never have tipped the scales in my favor, the call was to rest in God’s love. God is the doer, and as I walk with him and learn to hear his voice, I become a partner with God in what HE does. That melts away the pressure to perform and do, and what a wonderous freedom and joy there is living with this truth.
Can you sit with all the yuck, and begin to search for the invitation God may be giving you? It could be an invitation to forgive, an invitation to accept love, an invitation to put down the need for validation. An invitation to do life WITH God instead of FOR Him.
There are seasons of life when this temptation to prove your worth seems louder. When you experience failure, rejection, difficulty and loss, the pain and lack of reasons why can tempt you to get caught up in the insatiable desire for “proof.” The lie is that if God loves you, you will never experience pain, and that the pain is somehow there because you didn’t do enough, or because God won’t perform and fix things. Confidence in yourself and other people will always be a crumbly foundation built on sand. Confidence in God, no matter how things appear will never fail.
When you find yourself tempted to seek proof, fill your mind with God’s truth and fix your confidence in His love for you. This is not easy, but you will not be alone. God is with you, and will help you as you retrain your mind and focus on Him, living confidently in His love.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing.”