Illustration: Value, Self-Worth

In a recent post on his blog, Mike Glenn wrote: "The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard told a story of thieves who broke into a jewelry store and didn't steal anything; they simply rearranged the price tags. The next morning, the expensive jewelry was sold as junk, and the junk jewelry was sold as expensive. His point is obvious. We live in a world where someone has rearranged the price tags.

"Nowhere is this switching of price tags more evident than in the area of self-esteem. In our culture, people are valued for how they look, what they can do or even what they have, but rarely for who they are. In our world, you have to be beautiful by mathematical standards (and yes there is a formula for beauty—it's all about ratios), entertaining (not talented, but entertaining), and if you are not, the world has no place for you. If you can't make the Top 100 in the world on some list, you are nothing.

"This pressure on self-esteem has devastating consequences in the lives our young adults. Young men commit heinous acts just to prove to someone they are a man. Young women get involved in destructive relationships because they are told they are nothing is they do not follow the culture's standards.

"Every week I'm reminded of how important the gospel message is: You are loved! You didn't do anything to earn it or deserve it, but God gives it freely! It's grace! You are created in His image, paid for by His death and invited to live a new way with Him in His resurrection. You are valuable—indescribably so—and it is only the good news of Jesus that tells you that.

"Paintings are valuable because the artist signs them. Imagine—please, take a few minutes to imagine—what some museum would say you were worth if you could show them the signature of God upon you. That's what the Imago Dei means: God, the greatest Artist, has signed you and me. Our self-esteem is not based on what we have done, but in who made us.

"We are deemed beautiful, not by some arbitrary standard of the world, but by our Maker. God has created us and loves us. That makes us—everyone of us—beautiful, because we are the bearers of God's beauty.

"When you know what you are worth, things change. Your life changes. What will you change about your life, as you understand the value God has given you?"