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by Victor Knowles


     The young man’s lifestyle in the far country left him feeling unworthy. His self-worth was at an all-time low. Self-worth is good and is an important part of your life. Self-worth is the value you give to your life and accomplishments. It is the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person. Everyone should want to be valued as a human being and feel that they are worthy as a person to receive love, understanding, and a sense of belonging.

     However, sometimes we can think too highly of our self. Paul told those in Rome: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect willFor by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Rom. 12:1-2

     Some new Gentile Christians thought they were better than those of the Jewish faith because, for a time, they (the Jews) had been broken off from a relationship with God. But Paul told them, “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Romans 11:17-21

     When we start thinking too highly of ourselves we may become vain, conceited, proud or arrogant. Thinking too highly of our self can lead to a life that is self-absorbed, self-admiring (“selfies”), self-importance, self-loving, self-obsessed, self-satisfied until we are totally wrapped in our self. Someone once said, “He who is wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package.” Did you know 92 million selfies are taken each day? On average, individuals spend 54 hours a year (7 minutes a day) in taking selfies. 2014 was declared the “Year of the Selfie.” Millennials will take 25,700 selfies in their lifetimes.

     A friend once told me, “You’re not as good as you think you are but you’re not as bad as others say you are.”

     Someone suggested 10 things you do when you think too highly of yourself. I’ll just mention 5 of them. 1. You unfriend people who don’t agree with you. 2. You talk about others behind their backs. 3. You inflate your accomplishments. 4. You can’t take constructive criticism. 5. You think you are the exception to the rule.

     The Prodigal Son said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But he wasn’t the only one who said, in essence, “I am not worthy.” Let’s look at some other individuals in the Bible who said, “I am not worthy.”

     JACOB. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham. He was the second-born son of Isaac and Rebekah. We know him because he tricked his father into giving him the blessing that rightfully should have gone to Esau, his older brother. Jacob married a beautiful girl named Rachel. One day Esau and Jacob had a meeting. Jacob was very afraid about meeting the brother, who was coming with 400 of his men. So Jacob prayed to the Lord. “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac . . . I am not worthy of all the kindness and faithfulness You have shown me . . . Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me” (Genesis 32:9-11).

     Jacob confessed that he was not worthy of all the kindness God had shown him during his life. He was not worthy of God’s faithfulness to him. He was not worthy of the grace of God. But God answered his prayer – during an all-night wrestling match with God. God won and Jacob was reconciled to his brother.

     When you have acted badly to others, even family members, it is good and right to pray to God and say, “I am not worthy of Your kindness, faithfulness, grace and mercy.

     JOHN THE BAPTIST. John was the promised son of Elizabeth and Zechariah. He was also the first cousin of Jesus. John was sent to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah. When asked who he (John) was, he replied, “I am not the Christ . . . I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’” (John 1:20-23). When asked why he was baptizing (immersing) people if he was not the Christ, John replied, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one who you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26). Another translation says, “I am not worthy even to untie the strap of his sandal.”

     John the Baptist knew his place in the plan of God. He knew he was not the Christ. He knew he was a man sent from God to be a witness to testify concerning the light – the light that shines in darkness – Jesus, who was the true light. He was not that light – the true light that gives light to all of us. So when Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan (a distance of about 70 miles) to be baptized by John, John actually tried to deter Jesus, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 4:14). Jesus told John, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (v. 15). Only then did John consent to baptize the only man who knew no sin. John would make the grand announcement: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

     Although, all of us, are unworthy even to untie the strap of Jesus’s sandal, it we will recognize that we are unworthy, God can still use us to spread the good news about Jesus and help bring them to a saving relationship with Christ! Know your place in the kingdom of God.

    A ROMAN CENTURION. A centurion had 100 soldiers under his command. When Jesus entered the city of Capernaum, a Roman centurion, who had heard about Jesus’ ability to heal, sent some Jewish elders to Jesus, asking Him to come and heal the centurion’s servant (Luke says “slave’). So they went to Jesus on behalf of the centurion and said, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue” (Luke 7:5). Truly, this Roman centurion certainly seems quite unusual, indeed, one worthy of making this request!

     Matthew’s account of this miracle says that when Jesus entered Capernaum, the centurion came to him, “entreating Him, and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain” (Matt. 8:6). Dr. Luke adds that the servant was “sick and about to die.” (Luke 7:2). A doctor would know! Matthew’s account then says, “And He said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matt. 8:8).

     The Bible says that Jesus “marveled” at this expression of faith. There are only two instance when the Master marveled: the first at the unbelief of the Jews and the second (here) at the faith of a Gentile. “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matt. 8:10). Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. (v. 13). Luke adds, “And when those who had been sent [the Jewish elders] returned to the house, they found the slave in good health” (Luke 7:10).

     Good things happen to those who can admit, “I am not worthy.” Jesus did not heal the centurion’s servant because the Jewish elders said, “He is worthy for You to heal his servant” but because the centurion confessed, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word and my servant will be healed.” When we recognize our own unworthiness and believe that Jesus do great things just by speaking a word, who knows what lies in store for you down the road?

     THE APOSTLE PAUL. I believe the apostle Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived. He went on three missionary journeys, planted many churches, and wrote almost half of the New Testament. Yet, listen to what he said in 1 Corinthians 15:9. “I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (CSB)

     And yet this letter begins, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Cor. 1:1). In 1 Tim. 1:1 we read his words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” He goes on to tell Timothy, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord … that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was show mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly . . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example to those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:12-16).

     Even though Paul said “I am not worthy to be called an apostle” and “I am the worst of sinners”, it was not beyond reach of the love of God, and the grace of God, and the mercy of God, and neither are you! None of us are worthy of what God has shown us, and given to us, in the death of His Only Begotten Son.

               Hymn: “I am not worthy the least of His favor.”

I am not worthy the least of His favor,

But Jesus left heaven for me;

The Word became flesh and He died as my Savior,

Forsaken on dark Calvary.


I am not worthy this dull tongue repeats it!

I am not worthy this heart gladly beats it!

Jesus left heaven to die in my place

What mercy, what love and what grace!

(Beatrice Bush Bixler, 1916-2013) Author of 450 hymns, songs and choruses!

     Another great hymn says”

Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,

Unworthy to hold to His hand;

Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave,

This love I cannot understand.


Unworthy, unworthy, a beggar;

In bondage and alone;

But He made me worthy and now by His grace,

His mercy has made me His own. — Ira Stanphill

     Notice that in our text in Luke 15, and in the lives of these four men, and in these two hymns, GRACE turns everything around!

     What did Jesus say about us? Those of us who have named His name as the name above all names, made the Good Confession, repented of our sins, been buried with Him in baptism, risen to walk in newness of life, become His disciple, done our best to live for Him who died for us – some, like Peter, who said to Jesus, “Behold, we have left everything [even our own homes] and followed You” (Matthew 19:27 cf Luke 18:28).

     I leave you with these words – Jesus’s words – the 4th saying of 4 lessons on discipleship, found in Luke 17.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10).

 We have only done what we were supposed to do (EHV). We have merely done what we ought to do (AMP).

In an old hymn, written in 1876, that we still sing today (“Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”), the third stanza says,

Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus,

NAUGHT OF GOOD THAT I HAVE DONE, nothing but the blood of Jesus!


Victor Knowles lives in Joplin, MO. and, with his wife, is the founder of Peace on Earth Ministries.



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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33