A Good Value
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26
I’ve become a frequent shopper at our local Goodwill. There are several reasons for that. For one, I have a lot more buying power at Goodwill than at Brooks Brothers or Vineyard Vines. That’s been a huge blessing after my weight loss earlier this year. Secondly, I like supporting the mission of Goodwill in helping the unemployable become employable. But perhaps the most fun reason is this. I like to hunt for a good bargain. It’s somewhat addictive. I like finding a gently worn Brooks Brother shirt and paying $3.79 at Goodwill versus paying $100 or more for a new shirt at a Brooks Brothers store. To me, that’s a great value.
I don’t know if it’s my age or stage in life, but the subject of value keeps coming up. Specifically, the question I’ve been wrestling with is “what does it mean to be valuable?” What does it mean to be valuable to God and his kingdom…to my wife and my children…to my friends and family…to my neighbors and my city?
When we say something’s a good value, what do we mean? How do we measure value? From an economic standpoint, we measure value by comparing the cost of an item to the enjoyment received from it. If our enjoyment is equal to or greater than the cost, we label that purchase a good value. On the other hand, if the cost of buying/owning something outweighs the enjoyment, it’s a bad value.
On occasion, I have missed a stain or a tear on a shirt or pants from Goodwill. When I see the stain or the tear at home, I immediately feel like I wasted my $3.79. Though I paid very little for the shirt or pants, I receive no enjoyment because I can’t wear them. That’s a bad value (Thankfully, they let you exchange it for another item!).
How do we measure value in the Christian life? What makes us valuable before God? Stop and finish this sentence. I am valuable to God because ___________________. What did you put in the blank?
There is a real temptation to think our value to God comes by what we do. It’s easy to think my value comes from the kind of work I do, or the kind of husband and father I am, or the obedience and sacrifice I am able to give God. I am valuable to God because of what I can add to the kingdom. But is that right? Is that really where our value comes from?
In God’s upside-down economy, our value to Him is measured not by what we bring to him but what He has given to us. Our value comes from the one who spent everything to make you and me His child. It is our identification and union with Christ that makes us valuable before God. I’m so grateful for that truth because apart from Christ I’m a lousy deal. I am riddled with all kinds of stains and tears (wayward thoughts, careless speech, and a rebellious heart). It’s not that God was blind to those stains and tears. In fact, it was those stains and tears that actually drew Him to me. It’s what made me the deal of a (eternal) lifetime.
If we’re honest, we can say that there are times when we feel like we got a bad deal from God. We wonder just how valuable we are in the midst of our pain and heartache. We hear Jesus’ question, “Are you not of more value than they (the birds)?”, and shrug our shoulders. “Am I that valuable that he would let this happen to me?” You may feel like a remaindered book that has been banished to the $1.99 book bin. You may feel undervalued and thus unwanted.
Yet Jesus would show us in Matthew 6 that if God can take care of birds who neither grow or store their own food, then he can take care of the crown of His creation who have been redeemed by Christ. After all, it is Christ’s death and resurrection that are the proof that we are valuable in God’s sight. This is the deal, and it’s a good one!