11.13.2019

Worth vs. Worthiness



Sitting in church the other day I was struck by the word "worthiness" during the sacrament.  I think we are very good at confusing worth and worthiness.  And it's not hard to see why when we read the following definitions:

Worth:  Value; that quality of a thing which renders it useful, or which will produce and equivalent godo in some other hting; value of mental qualities; excellence; virtue; usefulness; importance; valuable qualities. 

Worthy/Worthiness:  Deserving; such as merits; having wroth or excellence; equivalent; possessing worth or excellence of qualities; virtuous; estimable; suitable; either in a good o bad sense; equal in value. 

However, Joy D. Jones recently defined the difference between these two words: 

Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words:  wroth and worthiness.  They are not the same.  Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us.  Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth.  "God's love is invite and will endure forever."  

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience.  If we sin, we are less worthy, but we're never worth less!  We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth in tact.  As President Brigham Young taught: "The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth...is wroth worlds."  No matter what, we always have wroth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father (Value Beyond Measure, Oct. 2017).

The key difference then is that worthiness is something we gain, while to be worthy is an eternal part of our divine nature. 


Worthiness

We can gain insight on worthiness from a couple of our sacramental hymns:



Purify our hearts, Our Savior
Let us go not far astray,
That we may be counted worthy
Of thy Spirit day by day. 
Hymn 183 In Remembrance of they Suffering



To be like thee!  I lift my eyes
From earth below toward heav'n above, 
That i may learn from vaulted skies
How I my worthiness can prove. 
Hymn 171 With Humble Heart



Yes, worthiness is something we can prove.  We entered into mortality so that we could proven (Abraham 3:25).   And yet, oftentimes we believe our worth is determined by our worthiness. 

Elder Dale G. Renlund has taught that we don't earn blessings, we qualify for them (CR April 2019).  Likewise, in one of President Henry B. Eyring's latest talks he states that "the holiness we seek is a gift from a loving God, granted over time, after all we can do (CR Oct. 2019)."  This again suggests that our worthiness is based on obedience, not our identity.  Worth, however, is eternally ours. 


Worth

Wendy Ulrich explains worth this way: 

Anciently, the mercy seat was covered both inside and out with fine gold workmanship, suggesting both the blazing glory of God and the supreme inner worth of every human soul.  This is not a derivative worth based merely on our usefulness or even our goodness.  It is our inherent worth, to which Christ testifies when he claims us as his seed and promises us his mercy...Despite outward displays of obedience, we have little sense of our worth.  Critical enemy voices, now internalized, rob us of the mercy seat that belongs within (The Temple Experience, pp. 220-221).

President Thomas S. Monson stated perfectly, "The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God (quoted by Joy D. Jones)." 

Our lessons in Relief Society can often leave us feeling down on ourselves rather than stronger.  We use the room as a place to dwell on our "guilt" as mothers and women rather than using the doctrines of the gospel to edify all.  Relief Society is a place where we need to be learning our divine worth, not bemoaning our unworthiness.  We often mistake self-degradations for humility. 

To this Sister Jones encourages, "Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well.  Instead it holds us back.  If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives.  He saves us from ourselves."  

I love that!  "He saves us from ourselves!"  Thinking small holds us back!  And so we must come to recognize that knowing our worth propels us forward as we seek to live more worthily.  An important distinction I hope to internalize more fully in my own life.  

 - - - - - - - 

Sisters, let's not be confused about who we are!  While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days.  
 - - Joy D. Jones - - 

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