Are People Trash?
Tony Cooke

Are People Trash? by Tony CookeFamed psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud wrote the following to a Swiss pastor: “I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash.” Wow! That’s uplifting, isn’t it? (Sarcasm intended). How could someone in a caring profession have such a jaded and degrading view of people? If a person doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t believe that people are created in the image and likeness of God, I guess it’s logical that they can assess the value of humans however they want. However, if a person believes in God and recognizes that He created mankind in His own image and likeness, there is a need to defer to and accept God’s estimation of human worth.

The denigration of people is nothing new. Paul experienced mistreatment by others, and spoke clearly about how it made him feel. “We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment” (1 Cor 4:12-13, NLT). In spite of Paul’s hardships, he knew that the opinions of others did not determine his true value or worth. Just a few verses earlier, Paul had said, “it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority” (1 Cor 4:3, NLT).

Why did Paul not allow others to determine his sense of value or his sense of worth? He knew that God saw him as valuable and precious! He knew that God had declared him to be His own! People may have said bad things about Paul and even treated him terribly, but Paul knew he was valuable in God’s eyes, and God’s opinion mattered more to him than anyone else’s.

One of the things we hear a bit about in today’s culture is “body shaming.” Many people have been adversely affected by the cruel remarks of others regarding their physical appearance. Some face the challenges of eating disorders, “cutting” behavior, self-loathing, and other distressing issues, and how much of this has been fueled by the insensitive and hateful remarks that made them feel less than valuable? How many people today have been made to feel—to borrow Freud’s words—like trash? Since appearance and body issues are such a major issue in our society, I want to address what the Bible says about our bodies, and how we should see ourselves.

Six Things You Need to Know About Your Body

God Loves You in the Entirety of Who You Are

God doesn’t just love us spiritually; He cares about us in the entirety of our whole being. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 states, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again” (NLT). There have been some interesting views of the human body throughout history. Some believed the body (or anything material) was evil. Therefore, denying the physical body any kind of pleasure was the right thing today. This is what caused certain ascetics to put ashes or dirt in their soup to keep from enjoying it.

Others said that only “spirit” matters, and what happens with the body is therefore irrelevant and inconsequential. This led some to believe that since the body was only temporal, it didn’t matter what you did with it, and this included adopting an attitude of absolute hedonism—if it feels good do it! The reality is that God loves all of us and sees us as important in the entirety of our being. As Paul states, God wants our whole person—including our bodies—to be kept blameless until Jesus returns.

Your Body is to be Presented as an Offering to God

Paul admonishes, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” (Romans 12:1, NLT). A few chapters previous, Paul had said, “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:13, NLT). I love the way the TCNT renders this passage it Romans. It states, “Do not offer any part of your bodies to sin, in the cause of unrighteousness, but once for all offer yourselves to God (as those who, though once dead, now have life), and devote every part of your bodies to the cause of righteousness.”

Your Body is God’s Purchased Temple

Paul makes another profound and powerful statement about our bodies to the Corinthian church: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20, NLT). This one statement—“You do not belong to yourself”—demolishes the popular idea, “It’s my body; I can do what I want.”

In stating that one’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, very powerful imagery is being invoked. In the Old Testament, the temple was:

  • Built according to a divine pattern
  • Was the habitation (or dwelling place) of God
  • Was a place of holiness
  • Was a place of peace
  • Was a place of strength and beauty
  • Was a place where God’s glory was revealed and poured out.

When we acknowledge that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are acknowledging those ramifications as being pertinent to our own bodies as well.

Your Body is a Vessel (Container)

There are two places in particular where Paul refers to our bodies as vessels. First, speaking of the glory of God, he says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7, NKJV). Second, Paul tells Timothy that those who separate themselves from ungodliness “will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21, NKJV). A vessel was functional, and existed for containing what was inside of it. We want to carry ourselves with honor and dignity relative to our bodies, because they contain a priceless treasure, and from the container, the treasure can be released and administered in the earth.

Your Body is a Resurrection Seed

Paul tells us that there is coming a time when “those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (1 Cor 15:52-53, NLT). People often think of the body as a temporary dwelling place for our spirit, and in one sense it is. In another sense, though, we must realize that our bodies will ultimately be resurrected and that the Lord “will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control” (Phil 3:21, NLT). This is why, in 1 Corinthians 15:40 (MSG) Paul refers to our bodies as “pre-resurrection ‘seeds’” that will eventually blossom into “resurrection ‘plants.’”

You are Responsible to Manage Your Body

In 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT), Paul writes, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” If one studies the entire context, they realize that Paul here is not referring to going to the gym and pumping iron (he does commend physical exercise in 1 Timothy 4:8). Here is speaking to the idea of applying spiritual disciplines to his overall life, and especially, not allowing his body to rule over him, but rather to govern his body wisely and circumspectly, according to the Word of God. It has been said that the body is a great servant but a poor master.

Remember these Bible facts!

  • God loves you in the entirety of your being – this speaks of the great value God places on you, including your body.
  • Your body is to be presented as an offering to God – this speaks of your devotion to him.
  • Your body is God’s purchased temple – this speaks of God’s residence within you.
  • Your body is a vessel – this speaks of your function, your witness, and your service to others.
  • Your body is a resurrection-seed – this speaks of your future.
  • You are responsible to manage your body – this speaks of your stewardship to govern and direct your body appropriately, using it for God’s glory and purposes.

I don’t care what Freud thought. You are not trash; you are valuable and important to God. As we deal with people, we can remember that there is an “accuser” who wants to denigrate and devalue people. One of our main responsibilities as believers is to let people know how God sees and values them. May we do that we grace and truth.