“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Paul the Apostle).
WORTHINESS DOES NOT MEAN ARROGANCE OR IGNORANCE OF GRACE. It simply means that we “practice what we preach.” When there is an obvious inconsistency between the things we stand for and the way we live, it causes people to dismiss what we stand for. For that reason, we try to maintain conduct that is considered worthy or fitting for a person who believes what we do. Looking at it the other way around, we try to avoid “unbecoming” behavior — that which is not in accord with the standards implied by our position.
In a culture very much concerned with self-esteem, the concept of worthiness comes up in many discussions. In general, people want to have a sense of self-worth. Within limits, there is nothing wrong with that, but the question is: how do we obtain it? I suggest that it is not by having others constantly “affirm” us by telling us how wonderful we are. It comes, instead, from living in a way that is consistent with our principles — in other words, it comes from doing our duty. I agree with Edgar Friedenberg, who said, “What we must decide is perhaps how we are valuable rather than how valuable we are.” When you can go to bed at night and know that you have made yourself useful to other people by conduct that is worthy of your calling, you won’t have any trouble going to sleep. You’ll know what you’re worth.
This applies to every single one of us, no matter what our calling may be. All of us have some responsibilities and some relationships. Worthiness means managing our behavior in such a way that we reflect a positive light on these responsibilities and relationships. If I’m a farmer, I need to farm in such a way that people will think more highly of farming. If I’m a father, I need to be such a father that others will think more highly of fatherhood. But shame on me if I bring discredit upon the work that I do or upon any of the roles that I fill.
Finally, let’s be reminded that worthiness is, first and foremost, an inward matter, a matter of the heart. If I strive for worthiness, I must do more than work on appearances. In the end, I won’t be able to deceive others by adopting a worthy style or form. I must be a person of worth and not just one who seems to have that quality.
“Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth” (Aesop).