Worthy, Or Not Worthy?

“And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue’” (Luke 7:4-5, ESV, emphasis mine).

Recognize this verse? It’s from the story where Jesus heals the centurion’s servant. And recognize this line of thinking? It goes like this: a virtuous person deserves favors from God. If and only if you have earned brownie points with Him, God should listen to and answer your requests.

The centurion did not share this same concept. Instead, he expressed the opposite idea about his worthiness:

“When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof’” (v. 6, emphasis mine).

He was the wiser one. He was more aware of reality than his first set of messengers were. In truth, none of us deserve any favors from God… from the standpoint of our own morality. Our own attempts at righteousness are as “filthy rags,” the Word clearly tells us (Isa. 64:6). All of His goodness to us is sheerly the overflow of His uncontainable kindness. He answers our prayers because He is love.

The centurion then further demonstrated just what clear insight he had on the way things really work with God. He went on, “But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (vv. 7-8).

This military man understood who Jesus was. He understood two critical things about Him. One, Jesus was wonderfully kind, eager to heal the hurting. And two, Jesus possessed the power and authority to perform the wonderous deeds He desired to do for His people. “Just say the word.” One word. One command. That’s all it would take Him.

“When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith’” (v. 9).

Do you notice that Jesus made no comment one way or another about the centurion’s worthiness? It was not the good deeds he had done that caught the Savior’s attention. It was his faith. Jesus was amazed at his faith.

Today, Jesus is not adding up your brownie points to decide whether to answer your prayers. Do not worry about your worthiness. If you belong to Him, His own precious blood has made you worthy in His sight. Simply look to Him with the eyes of confident faith. Know that He is indescribably kind, entirely willing, and limitless in His power to do the good to you that is in His heart. With bold confidence in who He is, simply entreat Him, “Lord, just say the word…”

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Do you believe that Jesus wants to do amazingly good things for you? Do you believe that He is the exact representation of the Father? Do you believe that stories like these teach us how our Abba God operates?

8 thoughts on “Worthy, Or Not Worthy?

  1. I think an issue with people is that they have different ideas of what “amazingly good things” are. We so desperately need to let go of our fear and our need for control and our self-imposed feeling of unworthiness; we need to trust Him and just let God be God. Do this and we can change the world. It really is that simple!

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    1. So very true, Mike. It was a game changer for me when someone pointed out the connection between Romans 8:28 and what follows it: a promise that He will continue to change us to be more like Him. The best thing He could do for us! Amen and amen to trust and surrender too 🙂

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  2. This life has amazing possibilities if we simply follow Him, walk life in His Way, and know we are His blood-bought child. What amazingly good things He can give us in His Will and for His Purpose. We are responsible for being HIS LIGHT in a darkening godless world. HE IS LORD!

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  3. Amen. It isn’t about our worthiness, but our faith. We can do “good works” without faith, but I don’t know if it’s possible to have faith without works flowing from that faith. The centurion did some good things, but Jesus commended him for his faith – probably the faith that had motivated him to do the good that he’d done.

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  4. I wrote a bit about this the other day in a personal sense. I love playing ultimate frisbee, and have played to a high level at times. My worth is not tied up in how many winners medals I have, or how many books I’ve had published, or how many songs I’ve released. These are fine goals, but faith in God and these gifts (and plenty others too) He has given me, is what will help me continue to walk the right path. With Jesus we will continue putting one foot in front of the other and walking where He so wanting us to go!

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