When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who builds our synagogue for us.’ And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…’ (Luke 7:4-6)
The elders say the centurion is worthy. The centurion says he isn’t.
One of the hardest issues many people have is feeling worthy. When I began church ministry, I thought most folks felt worthy, good enough, pulled together, and adequate.
How wrong I was. I’ve come to understand that many people don’t feel worthy, even if they’re powerful or successful. Most are afraid they will be caught out, exposed, and found wanting.
In the scriptures, Jesus did a nonstop battle with the Pharisees, who were always criticizing and accusing Him. In our lives, Jesus is still doing nonstop battle with our own inner Pharisees, who are always criticizing and accusing us. Those inner Pharisees say we aren’t smart enough, capable enough, or lovable enough.
Jesus didn’t pay attention to the elders when they said the centurion was worthy, nor did he pay attention to the centurion when he protested he wasn’t. These categories—being worthy or not—didn’t and don’t matter to Jesus.
Do we feel worthy of having Jesus come under our roof? Regardless of how we judge ourselves, Jesus wants to be with us. Jesus doesn’t want to come under our roof because we are worthy. Jesus wants to come because He loves us. By coming under our roof, by coming into our lives, by becoming flesh of our flesh, by going to the cross, Jesus makes us worthy.
Because we can’t finally trust our opinions or the opinions of others about ourselves, I encourage us to build our lives upon how Jesus feels about us. How he feels about us isn’t contingent upon making ourselves worthy. Our worthiness isn’t earned by what we do; it’s given to us by Jesus. And how he feels about us is ever constant because His love never wavers.
- Do you feel worthy of love, respect, and dignity? Or, does your own inner Pharisee never shut up by telling you all the reasons why you aren’t worthy of anything good or anyone wonderful in your life?
- If you have a chattering and criticizing inner Pharisee, chances are you had or have someone who didn’t or doesn’t affirm, celebrate, or encourage you. If that person lived in your past, or if they live now, what will help you to say to them, “Enough already!”?
- I’ve only found the will and courage to say “Enough already” to my own outer and inner Pharisees by listening to Jesus. What would help you to listen more often to Jesus telling you that He has made you worthy than to those destructive Pharisees telling you otherwise?
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