When I hear the word dignity, I picture a top hat or pearls, worn by someone who speaks with an English accent drinking tea from a bone china cup, pinkie extended.
I never thought dignity was a crucial goal because it felt like I would need to pretend to be someone else to achieve it.
The word dignity has recurred in my mind and life a dozen different times recently so I finally asked God if he was trying to tell me something.
Let’s just say that the answer was “Yes, absolutely.”
I googled “What does the Bible say about dignity?”. After reading the Bible verses that came up, I knew I had to write on the subject. We don’t have to look past our television sets to recognize we need more dignity in our culture.
But the point of this blog post is to help us define the word as God has defined it.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN DIGNITY?
Merriam-Webster’s defines dignity as “the state of being worthy or honorable; elevation of mind or character; true worth; excellence.”
That seemed perfectly Christian—until I looked at the passages I had googled.
Jesus defined Christian dignity saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).
The apostle John wrote, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).
Christian dignity is not just about how we behave with others. It is mostly how we behave for the sake of others.
I wonder how many times we have heard the phrase “unprecedented days” in this past year. As I look back on my fairly long life, I think only 9/11 and this season of COVID seem to fit the word unprecedented. Truthfully, I had grown tired of hearing the overused phrase until I used it with dignity in mind.
If you are like me, getting the COVID vaccine is a very high priority. The second dose represents renewed freedom to live like we want to live. But, I had to have a lecture with myself (authored by God) before I wrote this blog.
We are in “unprecedented” days for our spiritual lives too. We need to live these moments with Christian dignity. How difficult will it be to make that choice?
Christian dignity involves how we behave for the sake of others. We need to live with unprecedented Christian dignity during these days, and I really don’t want to be dignified.
I genuinely like the world’s standards a little better than God’s right now.
CHOOSING CHRISTIAN DIGNITY
I saw a woman interviewed who had just received the vaccine from one of the large auditorium locations. When a reporter asked why she was able to get the shot, she was nervous about answering. She was obviously not elderly. She looked to be in great shape. She was shifting from one foot to the other and said defensively, “I have underlying conditions.”
Maybe she did, but maybe she lied and took a vaccine that should have gone to someone else. In that moment, I realized that I kind of wanted to lie if it meant I could get a vaccine sooner.
Not a very dignified thought for a Christian blog writer!
Titus wrote, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7). We all need to wait for our vaccine, honestly. We need to wait with dignity. We need to put others first.
I can confess: I don’t want to wait any longer. I want to try to get ahead, pull some strings, get it sooner. But, how would I feel about myself a year from now if I did?
The choice to live with dignity isn’t about the next few months. This choice is about how we will live the rest of our lives. Will we earn God’s favor or do ourselves a favor? Waiting seems a lot easier with that perspective. God has called us to make the dignified choice.
I’d rather give up a few months of freedom than live the rest of my life knowing I made a selfish choice.
I wanted to write this blog post because I probably needed the accountability.
We know people. We could possibly work it and end up with a shot. I feel embarrassed to admit that. Or, maybe I should say, I feel completely undignified to admit that.
We are all walking a road that has become an uphill, dusty climb. Keep going! It can’t be good to choose the wrong road just to make life easier.
Paul wrote to Christians who were living in days much more challenging than our own. He understood things were hard for the people who had chosen Christ as their Savior. They probably weren’t feeling rewarded or lucky in their daily circumstances.
But, Paul told them (and us) why Christian dignity is always the right choice: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).
We need to live with determined dignity or we will be tempted to live apart from Christ’s example. Christ gave everything, and not just for those who would appreciate or accept his sacrifice. Christ lived with dignity, then gave his life away for everyone, even the ungodly.
PRE-LIVE EASTER SUNDAY
I want to sit in a crowded church and sing Easter praise to Jesus for his great sacrifice.
I want to shop for spring colors in a crowded mall.
I want everything to be normal and joyful again by Easter.
But it might not be the Easter I imagine and hope for. I might still be waiting for my vaccine.
As I close this blog post, there is an Easter celebration I feel called to choose now. Jesus was determined to carry a cross for my sake. I can be determined to walk in his example and wait for a vaccine, with dignity. If Christian dignity is what Jesus wants for our lives, there is no getting around that calling. His favor is our reward.
Please, Jesus, help us to be determined to live with dignity. We owe it to ourselves and to others. Mostly, Lord, we owe you that choice. For your highest glory . . . Amen.