Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Yesterday I had to stop at the gas station and fill my car’s tank. If I had not done that I would have run out of gas. I wanted to avoid that scenario because it could lead to a period of insecurity and depression. Here’s how: I would have had to call someone on the phone and ask for help, which puts me at risk of appearing like a fool for not planning better. This inconvenience would cause stress to me and to the person helping me, and could possibly stress our relationship. Valuable time has been spent correcting an avoidable situation and there is the possibility that I will have to listen to a speech by someone about how to manage my life better, which in turn will make me feel inadequate and devalued as a person. That will feed my insecurities and cause me to feel depressed about who I am and to question the true value of my life. That would have caused me to go to a sporting goods store and look for something to purchase, because if I am capable of buying a new item to enhance my life then I must be ok as a person. To avoid all of that, I filled my car’s gas tank.
Now that’s a little over-stated, but there is a truth I want to draw out of it – every one of us has an emotional filling station we use to make us feel good about who we are and to avoid the devaluation of our lives. When our emotional gas tanks start to get empty we head for the activity that has always brought us comfort in the past so we can feel good about ourselves again. One of mine is shopping. When I get down on myself I buy things.
What do you use as a filling station for your self-worth? It could be that you escape into books or movies because fantasy is far better than reality. Maybe it’s drugs or alcohol to relieve pain. It might be sex so you can prove your manhood or womanhood. Maybe it’s a hobby you use to gain a sense of accomplishment. It could be gossip or criticism to build yourself up at the expense of others. Maybe you dive deeper into work to prove your worth through performance. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed. It is immature to use the world and its values as a basis for determining our value. It is childish to put all of our energy into the immediate rather than to press on toward the eternal.
Philippians 3:7-9, 15 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…Let those of us who are mature think this way…”
In the Apostle Paul’s past he took pride in all of the things he accomplished as a Pharisee because it earned him a place in society and a sense of security and worth. When he got down on himself he just obeyed a few more laws or persecuted a few more Christians. He filled his emotional tank with activities that earned him acceptance with his peers. But when he met Jesus, he sacrificed all of that immediate gratification for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. Whatever profited his pride he now considered garbage so that he could find his true worth and value in Jesus Christ. He wanted nothing to do with a self-imposed or socially acceptable value system, but rather wanted only the righteousness of God through an intimate relationship with Jesus. He gave up visiting the world’s filling stations and replaced them all with the filling station of God’s grace. The prize he pursued in life was no longer one of immediate gratification, but one of eternal fulfillment.
Isn’t it time for us to put all of the world’s pursuits on the Wonderful Counselor’s couch and let Him evaluate the real reason why we focus on those activities? And isn’t it time for us to honestly admit that many, if not all of them, are done for personal gain and emotional gratification? If that is true, then this is the start of maturity for us, because we will, like Paul, consider those things to be rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ intimately and having Him fill our tanks with His grace.
So the next time you see me shopping, ask me why I’m there. I hope I never have to answer that it’s because I need to replenish my worth.