More Valuable Than Many Sparrows

More Valuable Than Many Sparrows

The gradual shift in modern educational philosophy to a “self-esteem” emphasis is complete. From the math standards that discourage teachers from “correcting” incorrect answers to the ball fields where “we don’t keep score” so no one “feels” bad, this shift is now producing consequences of its own. In fact, some have come to call the modern generation the “snowflake” generation because these young people have all been told they are just like a “snowflake.” Each one is different from the other, and it looks like just as delicate!

To be sure, this shift in philosophy is motivated by the best intentions, but, as in many human endeavors, those unintended consequences usually “surprise” all of us. While attempting to “correct” what we see as a flaw, we make matters worse by creating even more problems in our constant social experimentation. The problem is the real consequences show up in real people’s lives. And then it shapes the entire society and enshrines these spiritual and emotional poverties as virtues!

When ideologies shape society disconnected from timeless wisdom, even the best intentions cannot protect us from disastrous consequences.

No wonder we humans always tend to be our own worst enemies, and no wonder the message of Christ is such a radical message for this upside-down world of ours.

Just look at today’s Gospel Lesson in Matthew 10:23-31:

The Lord said to his disciples, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Talk about the true source of healthy self-esteem! You ARE more valuable than sparrows! Why sparrows? Well, because sparrows are small and common, and God, in His love for His creation knows each sparrow and cares for them. So, if God knows and cares for the smallest of birds, then you being more valuable than sparrows means you are even more treasured and loved by God!

He has just told His disciples to go everywhere spreading His message and He has told them they would be persecuted and driven from town to town. The disciples are to be like their Master and see all this rejection of the message of Christ as the reality of the spiritual poverty in the world. But all this opposition isn’t meant to discourage or dissuade them. It isn’t meant to crush their “self-esteem!”

After all, we should not fear them that can merely kill the body! Doesn’t our Creed declare the resurrection of the dead? Isn’t the central message of our faith the destruction of death by death? So, if death is defeated then that threat doesn’t hold us in fear any longer! Our greatest threat to our genuine self-esteem comes from that which deludes us into remaining a slave to the fear of death. That is what destroys the soul!

And that is what steals our true self-worth from us! Your Father sees every sparrow that falls to the ground, and you are worth more than many sparrows. In fact, even the hairs of your head are numbered by the Lord Who KNOWS you, and this is where your real self-worth lies; in your intimate connection with your Lord. If you forget Him, you end up losing yourself!

St. Eusebius of Samosota was a hero of the Orthodox Faith during the 4th century. This man’s piety and virtue were acknowledged even by his enemies, the Arians. The Church was suffering mightily during this period from the Arian heresy that said Jesus was merely a created being and not equal with the Father. This damnable heresy was opposed by the Orthodox and Eusebius was a mighty champion defending the Orthodox Faith from this heresy. He understood the consequences of this theological error in real life. He knew that if the Arians won the day that real people would never know their true selves and their true worth because of this horrible doctrine of the Arians. He understood that the authentic teaching of the Apostles that Jesu was both fully God and fully man was key to the Christian message because it powerfully revealed that God loved His creation so much He came to save us Himself. That’s how much God loves you. Eusebius was at a ripe, old age when he was going to a village to install their new bishop and while he was walking to the church, a woman who held to Arianism, threw a clay roofing tile from her upper apartment and struck the saint on the head. As he lay dying in the street, he made everyone attending to him promise the woman would not be charged or harmed. He went to the Lord around 380 AD.

Today, no amount of “self-esteem” support based on making you “feel” better about yourself will ever overcome the tug of the slavery of death in this world. It simply isn’t strong enough to overcome the real soul sickness we all suffer from. No, my dearest, your real self-esteem will always be found in a relationship with God. How can it be anywhere else since you were created in His image? All the shallow “science” of “self-esteem” in this world will only reinforce the sick narcissism of silly immaturity. Only the esteem that flows from Him Who is Love Himself will ever set you truly free to be who you really are! That is where your best and most purposeful work needs to be! That’s where you will discover your true uniqueness and your real self! That knowledge flows from being Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, you found discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, you also contested for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Eusebius. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

Would you share a gift with Faith Encouraged as we come to the close of June? Thank you.

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