Passage: Luke 5:1–5:13, Psalm 51:6
Worthiness is Your Birthright
Our juxtaposition today comes out of Luke 5. Two Bible stories that we all learned in Sunday School. Stories Janice is teaching our children. But when you see them placed next to each other like this you get a hmmmmm.
The first story focuses on Peter. Yes, it is one of those Peter moments. It is also one of the first experiences the disciples had with Jesus. Notice the newness of them trying to figure out Jesus, figure out why Jesus chose them. Luke 5:1-11
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Something crazy just happened. A miracle that defies the laws of the universe happened. Peter’s first response is how unworthy he is to have a good thing happen to him. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Let’s put a pin right there.
Immediately following this story is one about a leper being healed: While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12-13.
Here we have a leper. With an advanced case of leprosy. Leprosy is a condition where your nerves lose feelings so you can roll your ankle and never feel it so you continue to walk on it so it deforms. Or you poke your fingers into something so many times, you don’t feel it, so your fingers break, decompose, fall off. Your eyes dry up because you don’t blink because you don’t know to blink. Funky eyes.
Here we have a sick man who has been ostracized from his family and society. Not Peter who has been chosen to follow Jesus, to be on the inside. I mean, Jesus was teaching out of Peter’s boat! This leper dares to approach Jesus and asked to be healed. Dares. How brave.
Jesus’ response is…look at it…“I am willing.” Jesus was willing to do this good thing! This leper, despite his life conditions, still knew that he was worthy of something good happening to him. He saw an opportunity with Jesus approaching and he took it because he knew that something good could happen to him.
Jesus was also willing to bless the disciples with lots of fish.
Such a difference between Peter and this leper. Peter’s was, “Please leave me, I’m a sinful man.” Peter was letting his past define him.
What is the difference? One is in shame. One knows his worthiness.
Shame. Grrrr. Shame is our story stealer. Shame keeps that tape inside your head that you are never enough running and running and running. Shame is the root of scarcity. Shame exhausts. Shame is a liar. Shame changes truth into lies. Shame is exhausting because there are so many lies told. It is exhausting keeping up with the lies.
Shame causes us to talk to ourselves in ways we would never talk to those we love and respect. And shame loves to be that voice in your head repeating again and again that you are never enough.
The lies are thick with shame. Yet we don’t talk about them. We keep these lies buried deep inside of us. We are afraid to crack them open—and to let others see us—for fear that they will see the lies to be true. But they are lies. Shame thrives in secret keeping. Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.
The greatest shame of shame is it causes you to believe a lie that you are bad. That there is something wrong with you. That you are not good enough. And once you believe this, you start acting like something is wrong with you. That you are not good enough. You make life decisions from the lie of shame and suddenly your life becomes a real mess. It feels like an unredeemable mess too. Now you’ve gone too far, done too much. You are beyond redemption.
You aren’t beyond redemption. It just feels like you are because shame wants you to feel that way.
I am pro-guilt. Guilt is what the Holy Spirit uses to convict our souls. But shame is a whole other monster. Shame lies to us about our very worthiness.
Where does our very worthiness come from? From this truth. Warning: This truth is upside down to us because we think we are the center in this relationship with God.
You may believe that you believe in God but the relationship starts because it is God who believes in you. Every morning you have a new day that is God saying He believes in you. That He is still holding on to you. That you are worthy of another day of life. You were enough the minute you were born and despite all of the dumb things you have done that has not changed because it is still God giving you another day of life.
You are worthy of good things happening to you. We were enough the minute we were born. The minute God gave us another day of life.
In fact, the Bible tells us it was God who spoke to us first way back when we were in the womb. Psalm 51:6 says “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.”
God taught you wisdom in the womb. What do you think he was teaching you? Do you think it had anything to do with shame? Or your worthiness?
This is where we start our lives. How we understand this is how we approach the rest of our lives.
You are worthy of good things happening to you. Undeserved things. Things you didn’t have to strive for. Things you didn’t have to gain because you controlled the outcome.
When you think you aren’t worthy of something good, think…is there shame in that voice? Then remember that shame is a liar. That God spoke to you first.