Worth in our being, not our doing

‘[Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquilla heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately’ (Acts 18:26).

From the earliest days of the church, women have been honoured and valued. In a time when women were generally seen as lesser than men, the church saw this was not the case. Even before Jesus’ death and resurrection he had female followers; women were the first to discover the empty tomb, to see the risen Jesus, and be given the task to tell the disciples.

Here, Priscilla and her husband Aquilla jointly taught Apollos, assisting him to proclaim the truth of Jesus ‘more accurately.’ Incredibly, Priscilla is named first. It was unusual for a wife to be listed before her husband. This probably means Priscilla was the main speaker, teaching Apollos more about the Christian faith.

Women are never merely ornamental in the Scriptures. Though they do not feature in the Scriptures as often as men, they had an important role to play. Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Esther – these women were significant in Israel’s history. Even lesser known figures like Abigail played their part. In the New Testament we see women feature often in Paul’s greetings and farewells, shown to be valued, loved and honoured.

It must be said, however, that someone’s value to God and his people – whether they are women or men – is not dependent on their ‘usefulness.’ Those women we never hear about, the wife and mother of people whose families never feature in the story, are just as valuable as women like Sarah. It has never been what we do for God that makes us valuable. Regardless of what we do or not, we are valuable to him because he loves us. And that is enough.

Made Valuable by God

Have you heard of ‘imposter syndrome’? It’s a phenomenon where those who are perfectly qualified, with all the required skills, fear being exposed as a fraud in their workplace. They could be one of the top people in their field yet be paralysed by a nagging anxiety that it will all come crashing down.

Many Christians struggle from ‘imposter syndrome’ when we think about our faith. We’re tempted to doubt our value as God’s child, either because we are burdened by the shame of sin or we feel useless because we can’t contribute in various ways.

But truth is not found by looking at our feelings. We cannot discover who we are by looking within. When tempted to despair, we should stop looking within ourselves and start looking outside ourselves. We should look to God’s Word.

In God’s Word we find those comforting words, ‘in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body … and all were made to drink of one Spirit’ (1 Cor 12:13). Feel like a foot but wish you were a hand? Wish you could offer more? Listen to God’s Word. Your value is not found in what you offer. Your value is in what God has made you. You are part of the church, the body of Christ.

Feel worse than a foot? Completely useless? ‘The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greatest honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty…’ (v22-23).

We are all valuable to the body. Can you pray? That is a valuable contribution – more than you can imagine. But our value isn’t in what we can offer, but in who God has made us – part of Christ’s body.