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Where Do You Place Your Worth?

Written By Daniel Ng, Singapore

I’m a jokester. God has gifted me with the ability to lighten up a tense atmosphere and cheer people up. But like so many others, I have used this God-given talent to glorify myself instead of Him.

To me, the more laughs I get, the greater my value. It strikes at the heart of me when I don’t get that coveted “hahaha”. As sad as it sounds, the truth is that I find my worth in my ability to draw laughter from others.

What about you? Where do you find your worth? In treasured possessions? In achievements and accolades? In relationships?

I believe that our choices lie at the core of our very being, and they are inseparable from our identity. The choices that we make in our lives, big or small, go a long way in defining who we are.

Whether we are choosing what to study in university, or our marriage partner, or even what to wear to school in the morning, our choices are based on what we value, the things that we deem “of worth”.

The problem comes when we blur the lines between what we value and what our value is. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for striving hard for excellence in the careers and studies that God has so graciously gifted us. However, when we allow our careers or grades to define our worth, we’re paving the way to disappointment.

The truth is, everybody makes mistakes, and there will be times when we don’t meet our own expectations. We’ll also find that the people or things we so dearly hold on to fail us.

If my worth is in my relationship with my girlfriend, what happens when we break up? If my worth is in the number of likes I get on Instagram, what if I don’t get those likes? If my worth is in the number of A’s on my report book, what if I fail my exams?

I can tell you what happens then. I feel like trash. I feel worthless.

 

Only God is worthy

In my quest to ground my worth properly, I ask myself this: What matters the most? I formulated a question to help my search: If ________ wasn’t present, the universe would not go on.

Go on. Try to fill in that blank. I’ve tried it myself and I’ve found that the only answer that begins to make sense is “God.” It’s not my girlfriend. It’s not my grades. And it definitely isn’t the number of likes I get on Instagram. It’s God.

Philosophers sometimes say that God is the only necessary being in the universe. This simply means that without this Almighty God who created the universe and sustains it, the universe would not go on.

Since He’s the only One who matters, it would only make sense that we place our worth in God’s expectations of us. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-12 that every single one of us misses the mark of God’s good expectations. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves better or more desirable before a Holy God.

And with that, we’re back to square one. Since we fail to measure up to the only standard that matters, I guess we’re worthless then.

 

The liberating truth

Now here comes the truly liberating mystery at the heart of Christianity. John 3:16 tells us that God, in His love, sent His Son to the world so that we wouldn’t perish like worthless dust. While we were still sinners, He came to die for us and give us eternal life. He came to give us worth in God’s eyes. I get goose bumps every time I think of this.

If that isn’t enough to overwhelm you, in Philippians 2:6-8, we read of how Jesus humbled Himself. He is the infinite God, but humbled Himself to the form of a puny created being. He didn’t come as a king in riches, but came to be born in a stable as a helpless infant. This great God came to die in one of the most humiliating ways possible—to hang on a cross while people mocked Him.

When someone has gone through all that for you, would you dare say in His face: “In Your eyes I have no worth”?

We have no more reason to feel and say: “I’m not good enough.” Neither do we have any reason to get caught up in our failures. To me, that is truly liberating. So now, I no longer study hard because my grades define my worth; I study hard because studying itself is a gift from God. And I want to show Him that I love and appreciate this gift. When it comes to relationships, I don’t put in effort because they determine my value, I do so because my friends are a gift from my loving God. It is only when we start to see our worth in light of God’s loving sacrifice that we will be able to give thanks, even in the midst of breakups, failures, and rejection.

Anything—other than the blood of Jesus—that we use to define our own worth is a sweet lie we tell to comfort ourselves. Our worth is not based on money or self-praise or even the “good Christian” things we do. Our only worth is our faith that the God of the universe died for worthless me, and I cling on to that fact. What a wonderful mystery this is—how we can be so unworthy and worthy at the same time when we stand before such a great God!

I am Loved, Really?

Written By Jacelyn C, Singapore

“Useless.” “Stupid.” “Good-for-nothing.” These are words and phrases some of us may identify with. Even though I know that I am a child of God, there are times I still label myself with these words.

I’ve always struggled with viewing myself as someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. When I look at myself, I am reminded that I can never be like my friends. Compared to my fashionably dressed peers, I dress and look like a prepubescent child. And with my sub-par grades, it never fails to amaze me how I managed to scrape through Singapore’s grueling education system.

As I began university, my fears were amplified. Will I be able to make friends? Will anyone accept me for who I am? Will I be able to cope with the academic rigor of university? I shared with one of my close friends that I was fearful and anxious about starting university, and we had a meaningful talk.

But instead of being thankful for the friendship we shared, I found myself doubting if my friend really cared about me as I lay on my bed that night. I am so stupid and ugly. I do not deserve her love and attention.

I regretted being honest and vulnerable with her. What if she didn’t really want to meet me in the first place but was just too polite to turn me down? I was so afraid that she would reject me, thinking that I’m a loser. What if she makes better friends in university and decides that she no longer wants to be my friend?

I struggle to see why others would befriend and want to hang out with me. It’s not like I have a good fashion sense and can provide tips in that aspect. My grades are not stellar, so I am not a useful friend to seek academic advice from. Such insecure thoughts filled my mind that night.

I tossed and turned, struggling to fall asleep. Eventually, I gave up; I needed to occupy my mind with something. My Bible study homework seemed like a pretty good idea since I was lagging behind.

The passage that day was Ephesians 3:14-21, and it spoke of God’s love—that Christ did not come just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. His love was for all, whether Jew or Gentile.

When I read it, it immediately struck me: I am loved. It’s not that I didn’t know that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. However, this reminder from God to me—a broken, insecure and crying young adult—was so timely and encouraging.

Here are three fundamental but important truths about God’s love that I was reminded of:

1. His love for me is immeasurable

In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul describes God’s love as one that surpasses knowledge and is wide, long, high, and deep. It shows how great His love for us is, and that it is difficult to quantify. In fact, God’s love for us is immeasurable.

Even as I struggle with loving myself and believing that I am enough, reading about God’s immeasurable love for me reminds me that He still loves me as I am.

 

2. He loves me enough to send His Son to die for me

In fact, God loves us so much that He didn’t want us to perish eternally. He gave up His Son to endure and resist temptations and, ultimately, suffer painful crucifixion just to restore our relationship with Him (John 3:16).

To think of how the Creator of everything still yearns and cares for us! I do not know a greater love than this.

 

3. I can now love others with His love

As we understand how the Lord loves each and every one of us, we’re called to reflect the same love to those around us.

1 John 4:7-8 reminds us that God is love, and tells us that only those who love others are born of God and know God.

Being in fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ further helps us to experience God’s love, and gives us opportunities to practice loving others, even when it is tough.

It dawned on me that friendships are perfect opportunities for us to reflect the unconditional love Christ has shown us, and to be recipients of unconditional love from people around us.

 

I was very encouraged by these truths and they helped me to see His love for me even in my weakness. Although my fragile self-esteem might be seen as a weakness, I know for certain that God’s grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God will help me to see that in His eyes, I am enough.

I do not need to be perfect; I don’t need to be like someone else. Even before I was born with all my flaws, God had already loved and accepted me for all that I am. My only response is to be thankful and to live out a life that pleases Him.

Let Go of Self to Find Self-worth

Written By Clementine Chng, Singapore

When I was 15 years old, I would often ask my Dad what he thought I was good at. Our conversations always ended the same way—I just hadn’t found what were my strengths yet. This answer always left me feeling dissatisfied and disappointed.

At that time, I simply had no idea what I was good at. I was in one of the worst classes in my cohort, and my grades were just slightly above the passing mark.

I was in the school badminton team, but my skill level put me between those who shouldered the hopes of winning for the school, and those who were just there to learn and gain experience. I felt lousy because my coaches didn’t give me tips during match breaks, as they expected me to lose. I often longed for a miraculous win so that I could prove to everyone—as well as myself—that I was good at something.

It didn’t help my self-esteem that my sister had talents that were easily noticed. Her illustration skills were amazing, while mine manifested as messy doodles. She also inherited my dad’s ability to assemble and fix appliances well, while I somehow kept breaking electronic devices. She was kind and gentle, while I seemed to inherit the family’s explosive temper.

I started comparing myself with others obsessively, and trying to find things which I could be better at. When I found that the virtual world could give me the affirmation I sought, I turned to gaming. The more time I spent in a game, the higher the level I achieved and the more self-esteem I had. My reputation also increased within the virtual world. For a period, gaming provided the validation I desperately desired.

Basing my worth and identity on my virtual achievements worked for a little while, but I soon realized that no one valued my in-game achievements. My parents and teachers saw gaming as useless, unproductive, and a complete waste of time. Once again, I was left disappointed and scavenging for my self-worth and the approval of others in different ways.

On hindsight, I now realize that God had used these disappointments to point me back to Him and show me who He is.

 

He used my disappointments to point me back to Him

As I strived for the approval of others over the years, the same cycle of disappointment and failure repeated itself. Whether it was in sports, academia, or extra-curricular activities, I could never get the affirmation I yearned for, no matter how hard I tried. The countless disappointment and rejection revealed to me that as long as I longed for approval by man, I could never ever be truly satisfied. I either became prideful and craved for more, or became dejected by the lack of it. In resignation, I was forced to shift my eyes away from man and look to God.

He used my struggles to show me who He is

In my struggle, I saw a God who doesn’t see me as the world does. I saw a God who sees my blemished past and ongoing struggles, but still loves me more than I can imagine. I saw a God who doesn’t care if I’m good or lousy at certain things, but instead, cares about whether I have been a good steward of my abilities. I saw a God who looks so deeply and lovingly into my soul, and tells me that my worth need not be placed in anything of this world, only in Him. I had to quiet my own thoughts that screamed otherwise, and let this truth sink in.

Through His word, God reminded me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). The Maker of the heavens and the earth knows when I sit and rise (Psalm 139:2), and knows me by my name. I don’t have to do anything to deserve this love. I cannot do anything to deserve this love. He loves me even though I am so imperfect, and it is in this love that I find my worth.

 

Over time, God also revealed the gifts and talents He had created in me. Now, when others ask me what I am good at, I can answer with joy and confidence that God has created me with unique gifts. I can feel deeply for others. I can write. These gifts may be small and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but I know that God can and will use them mightily, for His glory.

Even so, I still struggle today. I get discouraged when I look back at my failed relationships, whenever I compare my Grade Point Average with that of my friends, or scroll through impressive accomplishments posted on my friends’ Facebook feed. It is easy to start comparing myself with others again, wallow in self-pity, and be paralyzed by the thought that I am never going to be good enough.

The difference is that now, I desire to find my worth in Christ. I no longer want to see my worth as the world sees it, nor as my feelings dictate. Instead, I want to lay down at the cross every urge to prove myself. I want to let go of these thoughts of inferiority that I have allowed to shape my identity. As I discover more and more about myself, I want to use all of me to worship God, knowing these good works in me are wonderful blessings from Him, for Him (Ephesians 2:10).

We are God’s children because He first loved us. Before we did anything to deserve God’s love, God loved us and gave us our identity. This is a simple truth. However, it is difficult to grasp, perhaps because we are so attached to the idea of earning love and worth with our works. But I pray that this truth may sink in and bring us to our knees before our awesome God, and that we may exchange a lack of self-worth for one that is anchored in Christ.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

Porn Says Vs Love Says

Title: Porn Says vs Love Says
Materials: Digital Illustration
Description: Pornography is a global issue. It lurks everywhere in our everyday existence, but in secrecy behind closed doors. We are all susceptible to this temptation of pornography but some of us may be deeply lured in. This project is to raise awareness of this everyday struggle by illustrating what pornography says and contrasting it with what love says instead. May you find the strength to overcome any temptation and guilt you might have with pornography with His truth and Word.

This project is done in collaboration with illustrator Willa.

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Hebrews 13:4

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

 

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Colossians 2:9-14
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

 

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Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 

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Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.