If I were to ask you how you think of yourself, which words instantly spring to mind? What are the words others have used to speak to you or about you? Do you remember words like “I love you”, “dear one”, “precious”? Or are those words as foreign to you as a Nordic language? Maybe the words that ring closer to what you’re used to hearing are “careless”, “clueless”, “stupid”, “freak”, “loser”, or worse.
The words we frequently hear spoken to us by our first and most important relationships often echo in our minds and hearts years later as the way we think about and talk to ourselves. Because words are often spoken by those who say they love us and are supposed to care for us, we have a very real tendency to accept them as truth. When those words spoken to us and about us are negative or hateful and we take them as truth, we begin wearing them like a bulky, damp sweater, hard to shake off, and weighing us down. Often we take on harsh, hurtful words as part of our identity. We just assume they must be true. They then can contribute to the choices we make, the way we see ourselves, and the way we relate to others and allow others to treat us. Sometimes taking on these negative words distort our vision of ourselves to the point that we, and others, don’t even recognize who we are anymore.
What if, though? What if you were able to replace these negative words, these lies about yourself, with a whole new set of words? Words that give hope, a new sense of worth, and a whole new identity? What if speaking words of life could change your life, for the better? What if words of life brought healing to your emotions, to your body, and to how you relate with others and how you allow others to treat you? Would it be worth exploring? Could you dare to hope again? Where would you even begin to find these words and believe them for yourself? Whether you were exposed to a book called the Bible before or not, I’d like to take some time to ask you to consider what God says about you. You may not believe in God or His Son, Jesus, but listen if you will, to what words were written to describe what God says about you.
You were created.
God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Then God said, “I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth And every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.” And there it was.
God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good! (Genesis 1:27-31)
So from the very first, we learn that you were created; you’re not just on the earth by accident. Not only that, but God has called you VERY GOOD.
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…” (Jeremiah 1:5a)
Here, God is saying that even before you were ever growing in your mother’s body, He had you on His mind. He made you on purpose, for a purpose.
Later a man named David, who became a King in Israel, was writing about God and said,
…you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-15.)
This man, named King David, was basically talking to God and saying that he understood that God made him and formed him, just like God made and formed mountains and the seas and all creation. Not only that, but he’s saying that God really KNOWS him. The same is true of us: God made and formed each of us, and He really knows us! This is something we can be excited and thankful for.
Another thing God says about you is that
You are treasured.
…you are a people set apart as holy to God, your God… God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
You only are a people holy to God, your God; God chose you out of all the people on Earth as his cherished personal treasure. (Deut. 14:2)
And today God has reaffirmed that you are dearly held treasure just as he promised… (Deut. 26:18)
At the time God made these declarations, the people He was talking to had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. So for a solid 20 generations, they had never known anything but mistreatment, slavery, oppression, and back-breaking labor. They certainly had no identity as a people who were valuable, other than what price they would bring at the auction block. They probably never dared to think of themselves as anything other than what they had experienced. They were property, just like a table or hammer or donkey, and they were nobody’s cherished treasure.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a treasure? Has anyone ever said that you were precious? A treasure just as valuable as gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds? This may sound very weird to you, because you have never been told this; it probably sounded crazy to these enslaved people as well. How would hearing this said about you change how you saw or thought of yourself?
Because God created you and considers you His precious treasure, the next thing we can learn is
You are chosen.
It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
Think back to PE or neighborhood games. Remember picking teams? Did you ever feel anxious about being picked, and how nobody wanted to be picked last? With God, we don’t have to worry about being picked last, because He picks you first! He has chosen you to be on His team. Not only that, but He isn’t looking for you to be the best player or waiting for you to be the perfect person before He chooses you!
God shows and clearly proves His love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
Another translation puts it this way: God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.
I don’t know about you, but knowing that God created me on purpose, for a purpose, makes me start to think that maybe I am important to him, and if I’m important to Him, it makes sense that He would choose me. Accepting those new ideas helps me to think differently about who I am as a person. Those new ideas may be sparking hope in you that there’s more to this than the words others have spoken to you would indicate too.
You are God’s child.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
God has decided to call us His children, not because we have it all together, but precisely because we don’t.
You are precious to God.
You are precious and honored in my sight, ...because I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)
Because of LOVE, God is about redemption, which is a fancy way of saying He saves you from yourself, your past mistakes, and all your junk. Because of LOVE, God is about restoration, which is to say, returning you to Himself. Because of LOVE, God is concerned with having a relationship with you.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
In fact the most important thing of all that God says about you is
You are loved beyond compare.
This is the message that is spoken to you more than any other message in the whole story of God and what He thinks of you. I mean, it is all over this book! Just listen:
We are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. (1 John 4:19)
For God so loved and dearly prized the world that He gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son… to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. (1 John 4:10)
That means that God loves you so much, that He sent his son, who is named Jesus, to be born and to die in order to take away every mistake we’ve ever made or ever will make, so that you could have a relationship with God. Before that, it would be impossible for us to be good enough to even talk to God.
You see, in this sense, love is not a feeling or emotion the way we think of it; love is a decision and an action word. God didn’t just feel love for you, He acted on it by sending his son, named Jesus, to stand in our place and take on punishment that we deserve so that we can be in right standing with God.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture… None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8:35-39)
Because of who God is, because of His love for you, NOTHING can separate you from His love. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not going to sugarcoat this and lie to you and say that you’ll never have trouble, never have pain, never have heartbreak or sickness, or never be mistreated again. What I am hoping to do is to encourage you in saying that God’s love goes with you wherever you go if you’ll allow it to.
Even when others, or even we ourselves, say we’re broken, ugly, worthless, unlovable, or worse, God says, “You are loved.”
If you want to receive this incredible love that God offers freely to you, the first step to allowing that love in is to say to him, “Jesus, I know that I have sinned and have fallen short of perfection. I believe that You died for my sins and that You were buried and rose again on the third day. I surrender my life to You. Please forgive me and be the leader of my life. I know that I am now Yours and You are mine. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”