By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C, Seattle Christian Counseling
References “The New Codependency” by Melody Beattie
If we are made in the image of God, how are we to regard ourselves? We are image-bearers of the creator and master of the universe. But it is a marred likeness. Our fallen nature permeates every aspect of our being. This leads us to struggle with our self-image, particularly when we have done something to further tarnish that image such as getting caught up in addiction.
Respecting the Image of God
God demands respect for his image. That is why he forbade believers from creating graven images to represent him during worship. No human handiwork can properly emulate the glory and majesty of almighty God. That he would prohibit us from even trying shows his respect for his own image.
What does this mean for us as image bearers? Obviously, that we ought to respect and highlight our qualities that most reflect God’s nature. Too often believers get caught up in obsessing over how they fail to reflect the image of God, rather than how they succeed. While it is necessary to identify weaknesses so we can know how to improve, it is unfair to ignore our God-given strengths.
Find Self-worth in ChristWe were made in the image of God. That demands respect. God values his image, which means he must also value our images, even if the likeness is blemished. This is where we find our dignity. Not in comparing our successes and failures, but the worthiness we receive from God. This is essential to making a life for yourself as a recovering addict. Many addicts struggle with whether they deserve to be loved. They think their past renders them irredeemable. They cannot possibly deserve other people’s love and forgiveness.
No one deserves God’s love. Romans 3 makes this bad news irrefutable, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We have no hope of achieving our own dignity. Which is why we need Christ. He is our source of dignity. As the next verse says, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-24 NIV) If you measure your own worthiness by your deeds, you will come up short every time. Find security in the infinitely more valuable redemption and esteem Christ offers.
Loving yourself and Others
Being made in God’s image means we are worthy of care and respect. Christ’s sacrifice makes us worthy of love. A past sullied by addiction can make you feel like you are not deserving of respect or affection, but you are. Stop trying to earn them on your own because you cannot. Instead, embrace the dignity and love found in being a redeemed image-bearer of God.
Matthew 7 records Christ’s teachings about petitioning the Lord. He tells his listeners, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:9-11 NIV)
God wants to bless his children. You may not think you deserve gifts from God, but he does. Stop slapping his hand away. Be grateful for the dignity and blessings he offers you.
Christian Counseling for Addiction
If you struggle with feeling like you deserve to be loved, consider getting in touch with a professional Christian counselor. They can help you accept the dignity that comes with being made in the image of God. A professional Christian counselor will work with you to understand why you feel unlovable. They will use therapeutic techniques and biblical principles to help you value yourself as God values you.
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