Our world is full of ways to evaluate worth. When I Googled “personal worth,” a host of articles popped up, most of them regarding financial assessment.
Is money what gives us worth?
How about beauty?
Though magazines and cosmetic companies might wish more people believed their worth is tied to their external looks, it’s not true.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. I Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
This verse asserts that God judges beauty at the heart level rather than the external.
How about social media?
Most of us spend time connecting with others via social media. How many times have you posted and watched to see how many people responded or “liked” it? Did you feel that rush of excitement when many responded or the crush of isolation when you received silence?
Tweens and teens are exceptionally sensitive to social media popularity standards. Posts like “Name your besties,” “Man Crush Mondays,” and “List your pretty friends,” circulate daily on tween feeds.
Are we wrong to look externally?
We live in a culture that bases worth on money, screen time, looks, and other external measures. They are all fleeting, superficial means that cannot assess the true value of our lives and souls.
What about internal measures of worth?
Some might say worth is found in being a good person, in having good moral fiber, doing good deeds, or loving others.
Yes, those are good and admirable traits, but…our worth goes deeper than personality traits and deeds.
The other day a wise friend shared this illustration of worth with me:
Take two $20 notes. One is pristine, fresh from printing. Its first owner put it under glass to preserve its outward perfection and has never handled it without gloves. The other $20 is tattered and crumpled. It has changed hands hundreds of times, been shoved into pockets, and been used by people who never gave it a second thought.
Are they different in value? Perhaps one looks better on the outside, but at the store, both purchase the same amount of chocolate. Their worth is the same regardless of what they’ve been through, the things they’ve purchased in the past, and how many times they’ve accidentally gone through the washing machine.
Such is our inherent eternal value in the eyes of our Lord. We are valuable to Him regardless of what has happened in our lives and regardless even of the deeds we have done. He looks past the trappings of our world. None of that has bearing on our worth in His eyes.
What are we worth to God?
We are worth the sacrifice of His son. John 3:16 states it clearly: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB)
God loved us so much that He gave His only son as a gift, a sacrifice, so that we could be in His holy presence. There is no preface to that verse that you have to be wealthy, pretty, Twitter famous, or sin free before the love of God includes you. Our worth is in the fact that we are created by God and He loves us. We are worthy because He says so. We only have to accept the gift of His sacrifice.
Let’s take it a step further:
Have you ever studied the life of King David? (from the Bible) David had everything this world says makes us worthy: money, power, popularity, notoriety, and good looks. He led the small nation of Israel to victory over their enemies and ushered in a time of peace and prosperity. He showed mercy to many and was a passionate worshipper of God.
David also had some serious vices. His resume includes: polygamist, murderer, adulterer, a father so distant some of his kids raped and killed each other, and a son who staged a coup to overthrow him.
Yet, God loved him. In fact, he is known as, “A man after God’s own heart.” David’s worth was not found in his external trappings—in truth, most of those caused him heartaches and contributed to his vices. His worth was in the fact that he belonged to God.
A note of caution:
Is this to say, then, that what we do doesn’t matter?
No, and, to quote the Apostle Paul, (in the New Testament of the Bible) “By all means no.”
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Romans 6:1-2
Belonging to God is not a license to do whatever we want. Furthermore, our actions have consequences, some of them deadly. God’s grace is not to be taken lightly. But is something we hold in awe.