Are we Overvalued by God?
Parents who overvalue their children are more likely to raise narcissists. That’s the finding of a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. I don’t think any parent, myself included, wants to raise a narcissist. The headline got my attention.
No, I thought, that’s not right. I’m pretty sure that I’m overvalued by my heavenly Father- and he’s knows what he’s doing. Romans 6:6 states that those who call on the name of Jesus are no longer slaves to sin. This is in spite of appearances to the contrary. God is the perfect Father, yet he’s calling us what we are not- yet. Is he overvaluing us? I don’t see God’s parenting resulting in narcissistic people- just the opposite. It’s said in 1 John 3: 2-3 (ESV) that,
“Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
The authors of the narcissism study said that with parents who overvalue their children, they’re referring to those who thought of their children as “more special than other children.” So if I go purely by that definition, yes, I would agree with them. The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16). God’s children are not more special than those who have yet to come into a saving relationship with Jesus, though we do enjoy the privileges of being part of his family. We need to recognize that we are all image bearers of God. But I was thinking of the term, overvalued, to mean thinking more highly of someone than they deserve- and it got me thinking.
The heart of it is that God’s not affirming the good in us because of whom we are, on our own, he affirms the good in us because of who He is.
So yes, I conclude, the study is probably correct, if, we’re talking about parents who overvalue their kids based on who they are, alone. But if we recognize and affirm the good in others, because they are image bearers of God, then we are sharing the love of the perfect Father- and we can’t go wrong there. When I say that God overvalues us, I’m don’t mean that he thinks we’re more special, I mean that he sees in us something greater than we deserve, something that is contrary to appearances. That is grace.
With that definition, go ahead, try and overvalue your kids, and everyone else. It’s not possible, but it will only help to try. Give them grace. No matter how much we love our children, it doesn’t even come close to the love and value that our heavenly Father has for them- or for you. Affirm the good in them, constantly, even when it’s hard to see.
Affirm those around you- and don’t forget to include yourself. We all need grace. There is something true, good, and beautiful in all of us- not because of who we are, but because of who God is.
Admittedly, some of us, whether we call ourselves Christian or not, do exhibit narcissism. If the definition of narcissism is someone who thinks they ‘re more special than other people, then sadly, yes, sometimes I’m guilty too. There’s an us/them mentality that can creep into Christian circles that’s hurtful. Could it be that we’re not giving credit where credit is due, to the hope that is in us?
No, I would never say that I think I’m more special than anyone else, but my actions would prove otherwise. I often put myself first. I’m in Christ, forgiven, because I called on the name of Jesus, but there are parts of me that are still being saved. I still sin and God is not blind to it. Yet how does he respond? Not through condemnation, but through affirming whom I am in Christ.
“…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (ESV)
Changing my thinking and knowing how God sees me, not as a sinner, but as righteous and holy, loved by him- it changes me. It makes me want to be more like Jesus. And even this, this wanting to be like him, is not to my credit, but is evidence of his grace, Christ in me.
Instead of condemning others when they sin, I can remind them of who they are in Christ. As someone who is still in process, still a sinner myself, in desperate need of God’s grace and saving power, I’ll admit that this is difficult. I will fail. I will not be the one to save my kids. That’s God’s job. It’s a supernatural thing, being able to show the kind of love that God the Father loves us with. We can’t do it on our own. Through prayer, we can ask for the strength to do this.
I don’t want to raise narcissists nor do I want to be one. I want to love others as Christ loves them. I want my kids to do the same. I’m going to start by following the example of the perfect Father. I’m going to give us all more grace. Some might say I’m overvaluing them, but I don’t think that’s possible.
Linking up with Kelly and friends at #RaRalinkup