We all have dignity and deserve respect. That’s the principle of Lesson One. Our inherent dignity is a fundamental gift of God who created us in his image. This makes everyone important. It gives everyone fundamental value and worth. Our basic task in serving is simply to appreciate the dignity that God has given us and others. A gift granted not because of our accomplishments and not retracted because of our failures. A gift given solely and completely as an expression of the matchless grace of God.
There are two basic affronts to appreciating our shared value: 1) how much we base our self-worth on our roles and accomplishments in life and 2) how we tend to devalue others based on their failures, real or imagined. These perceptions create genuine problems when we try to serve others. First of all, we can pursue serving others as another accomplishment in an attempt to improve our worth. This makes our service all about us and ensures our failure. In contrast, the Bible teaches us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3).
Secondly, we can shun serving those we feel do not deserve our help or those who present particularly difficult challenges to us. But we are taught to humbly consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and to adopt the attitude of Christ Jesus “who being in very nature God…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7).
We all make both of these mistakes, serving others to build ourselves up and not serving those we have mentally torn down. These errors are very harmful to our relationships. Thankfully, Jesus Christ did not make these tragic mistakes. He was faithfully obedient to God’s commands, obedient even to death. He did this as a servant to us, a servant “made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7).
God has bestowed great honor on humanity in two very powerful ways. First, he made us in his image, in his likeness (Genesis 1:26). Though his image in us is marred by sin, vestiges nonetheless remain. Secondly, God also bestowed honor on humanity by sending our redeemer in human likeness. These dual honors that God has given us afford each and every human being a dignity that demands respect.
Watch the video above. An unintended affect that the volunteers had on Mary was that they reminded her of what she had lost. How have you or would you respond to someone who said to you, "I used to be you."
Consider a time in your life when you have suffered a significant loss. Did you feel like you had lost some of your value? How is this related to a your dignity?
How is dignity best affirmed in ourselves and others?