“My Worth Is Not In What I Own” is a new song for us, written by the Gettys and Graham Kendrick. There are great arrangements by both the Gettys (with Fernando Ortega) and by Shane and Shane (which is closer to what we play in church). This song seeks to hold in tension two truths found in scripture. First, we have rebelled against the creator God who created us in his image. As Romans 3:11-12 says, “There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
On the other hand, we are created in God’s image and thus have intrinsic worth. What’s more, God sent his Son to die for us, so that now our worth is tied to something far superior than ourselves. As Paul says in Romans 5:6-8, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Graham Kendrick sites two different sources for inspiration of the lyrics. First, William Temple wrote, “My worth is what I am worth to God, and that is a marvelous great deal, for Christ died for me.” The second is a quote from John Stott’s book, “The Cross”…
“Our self is a complex entity of good and evil, glory and shame, of creation and fall. . . . We are created, fallen and redeemed, then re-created in God’s image. . . . Standing before the cross we see simultaneously our worth and unworthiness, since we perceive both the greatness of his love in dying, and the greatness of our sin in causing him to die.” (John Stott, “The Cross”, page 285)
As we look at each verse, we see things that we could be tempted to find our worth in, but are called to reject them and be corrected by a gospel truth. Let’s take a look…
Verse 1: We are tempted to find our value in what we own and in our physical strength, but we are instead directed to find it in the “costly wounds of love”. This seems weak and foolish, but we know God chose what is weak to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27).
Verse 2: We are tempted to find our value in skill, a name we make for ourselves, in winning and pride, or losing and shame. Instead we should find it in the blood of Christ that flowed for us at the cross.
Verse 3: We are tempted to trust in fame, youth and beauty. But these are all fleeting things in light of the eternal life that calls to us in Christ.
Verse 4: We are tempted to trust in wealth, might, or “human wisdom’s fleeting light”. In contrast, we are called to “boast in knowing Christ” like the apostle calls us to in 1 Corinthians 1:31.
Finally verse 5 gets to the kernel of the song that informs the rest. “Two wonders here that I confess: My worth and my unworthiness, My value fixed – my ransom paid at the cross”.
The chorus directs us to our proper object of joy, meaning and fulfillment. It’s worth quoting, “I rejoice in my Redeemer, Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul. I will trust in Him, no other. My soul is satisfied in Him alone.” Imagine if we made that our daily prayer!
As you can see, much of the scriptural basis for this song is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. Much of what Paul says in his opening chapter can be followed throughout the rest of the book, so as we preach through 1 Corinthians, be sure to pick up on those themes! May we be content to know Christ and him crucified, treasure the immense value and worth God put on us at the cross, and thus be keenly aware of both our worth and unworthiness.