Satisfaction - Why Am I Here?
All of us have built-in personal worth needs. One of these, love and acceptance, is so crucial to our sense of well-being that we could hardly function if we were convinced that no one loved us. We concluded that this is a God-given need, and that no earthly substitutes can perfectly fulfill it. We must turn instead to the One who implanted it within us, the One who created the cosmos and was crucified at Calvary. Only in Him will we find unconditional love and consistent acceptance. When we place our complete trust in Jesus, we receive a new identity as beloved sons and daughters of the King.
Not all believers realize the implications of this. Many still find their identity in what others think of them or in what they think of themselves. It is only when we find our identity in what God thinks of us as members of His family that we become free to love others without manipulating them to love us in return.
The second personal worth need we looked at was significance and identity. We saw that in spite of so many desperate efforts to satisfy this need in the pursuit of possessions and status, none of these things can fill the void. Once again, our quest will only end in the One who placed this need within us. We were created to know God and to find in our relationship with Him the joy and meaning we seek. Thus, God in His love and mercy uses our needs to drive us from futility to fulfillment.
The ultimate source of our significance is our position as members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). We have been qualified to "share in the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12). As an extension of the incarnation of Christ, we are coheirs of His heavenly kingdom. It was for us that He prayed on the night before His crucifixion, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21, NIV). When we realize that our true significance and identity rests in this reality, we are freed from the trap of impressing others to find meaning and purpose for ourselves.
A third personal worth need is competence and fulfillment. We need to feel that we are competent to accomplish something worthwhile, and we need the fulfillment of knowing that our lives will make a genuine difference.
Like the first two worth needs, this one is also thwarted by our life experiences. Parents often impose an artificial performance standard upon their children and reject them if they do not measure up. A perfectionist attitude can be devastating to a child's self-image: "Four A's and one B—what did you get the B for?" Even if the child attains the required level, it still won't be good enough if the parents decide to raise the measure another notch.
Performance rejection also comes in more indirect forms, and one of these is a low level of expectation, whether at home or later at school or work. "Well, I guess all we can hope is that you'll do your best... " For many people, the resulting sense of inadequacy is difficult to live with. So they compensate by formulating their own plan (whether they are aware of it or not) to earn fulfillment by means of specific accomplishments. Some become intensively competitive in sports and develop a reputation of being poor losers. For others it takes the form of sacrificing everything to earn a 4.0 average in school.
The variations are virtually limitless, but none of them really work. Few are capable of distinguishing themselves by rising head and shoulders above the competition. And those who do in their moments of honesty would have to agree with the author of Ecclesiastes: "Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun" (Eccles. 2:11).
Once again, we reach the same conclusion: this need, like the first two, can only be satisfied in the One who implanted it within us. We are not only in a spiritual family (love and acceptance) and in a spiritual body (significance and identity), but we are also living stones in a spiritual temple (competence and fulfillment). The Holy Spirit has gifted us and empowers us to be competent in accomplishing His purposes in our lives as we walk in dependence upon Him. "And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:4-5).
God has gifted us to achieve whatever He asks of us, and He has given us enough time to do it. Moreover, success in His sight is not the same as success in the sight of men because it does not depend on results. Our work is faithfulness; His is results. "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). The Christian who grasps the implications of these truths becomes free from the competitive need to win, free from dominating and resenting others, and free from pursuing achievements in order to validate self-worth.
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