32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
When we tie our worth to our work instead of His it leads to a performance based life instead of a peace based one. The question that we need to ask is do we really believe that our worth is tied to His word? Do we get it, have we got it because many of us struggle with being worthy, valuable and loved by God and when we do we are prone to be driven by performance. It becomes the corruptive cancer that eats away and kills our lives, because on days that we believe that we have perform well we feel like we are more valuable to God. We buy into the lie that the things we do and the things we stop doing are what make us worthy of the love of God. As a result we not only end up living a lie, but we end up pursuing the wrong things and pretend to be someone that we are not. A performance driven life leads to many forms of pain, one of them being the deadly disease of people pleasing. We end up trying to measure up so we can gain a sense of meaning in our life. Our value becomes based on what others say instead of God’s Word. We end up measuring our worth on our work, on whether we can please the people around us. That is why we so badly need this story in the book of Luke and why I am so thankful that the HS inspired Luke to put to paper this encounter with the thief on the cross. Because it is a powerful reminder that it’s not what I do, how much I have, how well I perform, or how good I look that determines my worth, or my value. No our worth and value rest firmly and securely on God’s unfailing, unconditional, unending love for us. Do you believe that, have you accept that, are you embracing and resting in that truth that the creator of the Universe is madly in love with you. Look don’t take my word for it, take His, “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious in my eyes, because you are honored and I love you… the mountains may depart hills may be shaken, but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken.” Isaiah 43:1,4; 54:10. God calls you by name, you are precious in His eyes and His love for you will never be shaken. I believe Paul understood how hard it was for us to grasp God’s love for us that is why in Ephesians 3:17-19 he wrote, “And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Do you see and hear what Paul is saying about the love Christ has for you? It is deep, wide, long, high and understanding His love give fullness of life and power. In his book, Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning talks about a guy named John Eagan. John was an ordinary guy and a high school teacher in Milwaukee. He spent 30 years ministering to youth and struggling with seeing himself worthy of the one who is able to perform miracles with nothing more than spit and mud. But during an 8 day spiritual retreat, his spiritual director said something that pulled it all together, rocked his world and gives you and I something awesome to contemplate… John the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and His immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life. Later that evening John wrote in his journal…We discussed it. The basis of my personal worth is not my possessions, my talent, not esteem of others, reputation… not kudos of appreciation from parents and kids, not applause, and everyone telling you how important you are to the place… I stand anchored now in God before who I stand naked, this God who tells me, “You are my son, my beloved one.” Have you define yourself radically as one beloved by God, because God’s love for you and his choice of you are what constitute your worth. We need to embrace this truth which means that we not only accept it but that we let it become the most important thing in our life. Unfortunately many of us are defining ourselves by our sin and our failure instead of His sacrifice and forgiveness. Let me ask you this question has anything I have said so far shocked you? For some it may but for many Christians this is nothing new. I mean one of the first songs many of us learned to sing as a child was “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” and one of the first bible verses we memorized was more than likely, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son… John 3:16” But even though we have read it, heard it, memorized it, sung about it for years and even taught it, it is still hard to see ourselves as one radically loved by God. So let me ask you are you living in His love or are you living in the lie that your worth is tied to your work not His?