"O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.
For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God."
There is an interesting balance in the scriptures between verses that say that man is of great worth, that we should value others, esteem them as ourselves, not cheat them or lie to them, that we have the potential to become like God, and verses like this, that say we are nothing, that we're inconsistent and slow to understand, etc. ... Does this mean that there is an inherent flaw in the gospel or that God can't make up his mind? I don't think so. :) I just think that they are both true, and trying to teach us about different aspects of ourselves. Is it true that we, and the people around us are valuable? Yes. Absolutely. Otherwise, why would God love us and have sent us here? We are of infinite worth, and we have immeasurable potential to improve and become more than we are. Is it true that we're also less than the dust of the earth? Yeah. We have all that potential for good, and we also fall very, very short sometimes, accomplish little, or actually make things worse. Instead of instantly responding to God, we mull it over, wonder if it is worth it, and sometimes do the opposite. Dust is way better than that. :) Dust doesn't have that huge potential for evil that we have going. We should make T-shirts that say "Dust > me."
So, how does this apply to our lives, and what are the scriptures saying when they give us these mixed messages? I think what they are saying is that we have the potential to grow up into amazing or horrible. Right now, we're just that potential. We haven't solidified into either one. We're kindergartners trying to learn not to throw blocks at each other. And some of us are going to grow up and discover new things, and raise families, and transform the world into something better. And some of us are going to grow up and embezzle money, cause businesses and families to fail, and hurt other people. When we grow up all the way, then we'll know our worth... and some of us might surpass dust, and some of us will still be well under that bar. Today, let's be humble and accept that dust is better... but let's work on that potential. Let's stick with God, and learn and grow so that maybe, someday, we can stand with Dust as equals. :)