Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

The Value of Men and Women

Couple with Bible

by Dennis Pollock

What is our value? How much are we worth? People have various standards for setting value upon one another. Those who are physically beautiful are often considered of greater value than those who are not. It might seem strange that the spacing of the eyes, the shape of the nose, or the fullness of the lips could somehow make one man or woman more valuable than another, and yet the beautiful people are often the first to get the job, the spouse, or the invitation to the party. In some circles intelligence means much. The man or woman who can quickly grasp complex issues, who can speak and write articulately, and whose demeanor demonstrates that his IQ is far above average may be considered of much greater value as a friend or associate than someone who can barely balance his checkbook and for whom reading is an immense chore. And then there are the wealthy, some of whom may lack any great virtue save for the fact that they have more money than most folks could imagine. And yet everyone wants a piece of them. In the book of Proverbs we read, "The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends."  

God's ways, thoughts, and perspectives are always radically different from man's. And never is this more true than in this business of our worth. In order to see this from God's perspective we must go through a little bad news before we get to the good news. One type of value relates to usefulness. The more useful an item or a man is, the more value we assign to them. If you are going on an expedition deep into an unfamiliar forest where it would be easy to get lost, and were allowed to take with you either a  five dollar compass or a five hundred dollar watch you would be smart to take the compass. The compass' usefulness in the woods trumps the watch's superior value on the open market. A boss will often put up with an employee who has a grating personality if his knowledge and skills are making bucketfuls of money for the company. When I began to travel oversees I searched for a coffee mug I could take with me on my trips. It had to made of  a hard plastic, so I wouldn't have to worry about it breaking. And I had a particular size in mind – it couldn't be too large or too small. Finally I located exactly what I was looking for in a second hand thrift shop. I think I paid about 25 cents for it. But it was perfect for my needs. I have sipped countless cups of coffee and tea from that mug in my hotel rooms in the evenings after preaching in Africa or India. It is like an old friend to me. It is useful. It is valuable to me.

Usefulness to God

We all appreciate usefulness. But can we be of any use to God? In our natural state (apart from the new birth) the answer is no. The Bible teaches us that unless God changes our hearts we are of absolutely no use to God in His great endeavor to draw men and women to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Paul quotes this passage in describing the condition of mankind:

There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one (Romans 3:10-12).

This is true of all people from all nations and cultures and races. The American is as useless as the African. The Chinese are as useless as the Mexicans. Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing, and anyone who can do nothing is useless. Imagine a man applying for a job. When the interviewer asks him about his skills or background, he replies, "Well, actually I have no skills. I've never been successful at any job I've ever done. I don't know how to read or write, I've never learned any kind of math, I don't get along well with others, and my eye-hand coordination is horrible. I get confused easily and I never finish anything I start." The interviewer might admire the man for his honesty, but he would never be hired. The man is utterly useless.

So it is with men and women who have not tasted the grace of Jesus. Their minds may be sharp and their talents may be huge, but apart from Jesus they are spiritually worthless. They cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God and they have no knowledge of the word of God. They cannot pray the prayer of faith, they could never lead a soul to Christ, and they live their lives for their own selfish pleasures rather than the will of God. Jesus declares, "Without Me you can do nothing." All their dreams and goals, all their achievements and worldly success, all the wealth they manage to amass and popularity they gain means, in the eyes of God, precisely nothing! That's the bad news concerning our value; now let's get on to the good news.

Treasured by God

There is a second aspect of value which has absolutely nothing to do with our usefulness. It is the value of being treasured, loved, and found highly desirable. When a baby is born he is not particularly useful to his parents. He cannot go out and get a job, and produce revenue for the family. He cannot entertain you with his wit or hold a meaningful conversation with you. And yet despite the baby's apparent uselessness, he is held in the highest possible esteem by his parents. They will dote over him and spend extravagantly in order to make sure that his crib is the latest and greatest. They will buy him all kinds of expensive cute outfits that he will only be able to wear for a couple of months. And they will rearrange their schedules and often relinquish a significant source of the family's income for the sake of this red-faced, crying, demanding little bundle. Is that baby valuable? In the eyes of the loving parents there could be nothing in this world of any more value.

Martin Luther wrote, "God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us." Our Heavenly Father's tender, all-encompassing love for His created beings has attached a value to every one of us that has nothing to do with our degree of usefulness, or our talents or beauty or wealth. We are loved and therefore we are valuable! Jesus declared, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" What an amazing trio of truths we discover from this short little teaching: 1. We have a Heavenly Father. 2. He provides for all His creation, even the birds. 3. We are more valuable than they. In another place Jesus talks about how common the little sparrows are. You could buy five in those days for a couple of pennies. And yet, says Jesus, "Not one of them is forgotten before God… Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

Treasured in His Eyes

We have value in the eyes of our Creator! We are treasured, we are loved, we are prized. This is true for all people from all nations, cultures, and races. Although we divide people into the important or unimportant, the beautiful or the non-beautiful, the powerful or the powerless, God makes no such division. His love and value reaches from the wealthy CEOs of America to the poverty-stricken African old woman selling roasted corn on the streets of her village. His compassion overflows toward movie stars and toward those who watch movies on tiny little televisions in their shabby, roach-infested apartments. The overflowing fountain of love that springs from the heart of our God makes no discrimination whatsoever. "For God so loved the world" means precisely that – He loves the whole world and every one of its inhabitants.

The greatest evidence of the value God places upon men and women is Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to this earth He affirmed this value God has for His creation again and again. He tells us that the event that brings the greatest joy in heaven is the repentance of one sinner. Jesus conversed with Samaritan women (despised by the Jews), touched lepers, ate in the homes of tax collectors, blessed children, and changed His schedule when people asked Him to come and pray for their sick loved ones. And of course there was one more thing: He died on the cross for the sins of the whole world – and rose again three days later! There could be no greater evidence of the love and value God has toward this world than the life and death of Jesus. And He tells us that when we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.

We Must Value the Lost

Our Lord has commanded us, His disciples, to show this same value for men and women. We are told to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Not just the American suburbs with their beautiful brick houses, but to the mud huts of Africa, the filthy slums of India, and the remote villages of Mexico.) Throughout the history of the church men and women have suffered and died to follow this command, believing as their Heavenly Father does, that the souls of men and women are worth any price that we must pay. Jim Elliot went to Ecuador to minister to the Auca Indians and was speared to death at age 28. William Borden, who stood to inherit one of the largest fortunes in America, after graduating from Yale planned to be a missionary to China. He first went to Egypt to study Arabic as he planned to minister among the Muslims of China.

While living in Egypt in primitive conditions, he contracted cerebral meningitis and soon died at the age of 25. "What a waste" our world would say! These young men could have lived out their lives comfortably in America and lived to see their children and grandchildren. Yet they counted it a small thing to put their lives on the line for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of God's great love for humanity. And their lives were not wasted, as countless thousands have been inspired by their stories of devotion to the cause of Christ, and have answered the call of Jesus to go and minister in foreign lands. Elliot had written in his journal, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

The question might be asked, "If God loves and values people so much, why doesn't He allow everyone to go to heaven?" The answer is that God is a just God who must punish all sin. In some respects He is like the conscientious accountant who is determined that the books must balance perfectly – not one penny can go unaccounted for. In God's case every sin must be punished, every lie, every act of sexual immorality, every theft… Either we pay for it ourselves in a place called the outer darkness or else Christ's sacrificial death covers it for us when we place our trust in Him. Thus Paul's exhortation, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."

While we were yet sinners (and utterly useless) God loved us and gave His Son for us. Once we are born again and safely established in God's family an amazing thing happens. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ begins to work through us. We are transformed from useless to useful. "Without Me you can do nothing" is changed into "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." We who were always valuable to the Heavenly Father because of His great love for us now achieve a second type of value. We are employed in the greatest program on the face of the earth – the expansion of the kingdom of God through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To us who formerly were "unprofitable" Jesus now declares, "You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world."

 




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