I dropped a penny in the parking garage two weeks ago. And it’s still there. What does that tell you? That I didn’t care enough to pick it up? That nobody else cared enough to pick it up? I think it’s a little bit of both.
Pennies aren’t worth much. At least, not to an American.
Isn’t it funny what we put value on? Because that’s really how money or other items of value work. That show everyone loves, Antiques Road Show, is only interesting because people find old junk in their attics that turns out to be worth a fortune. Why? Because someone is willing to pay a fortune for it.
Something is only worth as much as the value people place on it. And when you look at worth in those terms, it might change your opinion on the value of a lot of things—and people—in your life.
How much is your car worth? How much are your clothes worth? How much is your relationship with your best friend worth? How much is your peace of mind worth?
How much do you value those things, those people in your life?
Worth is a tricky subject because it’s different for everyone. We all place a different value on different objects and people. To someone who’s used to living in a city, a dishwasher is probably worth a lot. To me, who’s been fine without a dishwasher for years, they don’t matter a whole lot.
But if a random person sees a Trixie Belden book at a garage sale, they probably wouldn’t even stop to look at it. Me? I’d pay a good price to buy a Trixie Belden book I don’t already have. Because it’s worth something to me, even if it’s not worth anything to anybody else.
Today’s verses are 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
We should be very cautious about how we establish or decide what something or someone is worth. So much of it depends on your perspective. This is one of the ways that Christ-followers really stand out from people who follow the world’s philosophy.
People in the world place high value on money, on fame, on self, on happiness, on doing what feels good. But that’s not the kind of life Christ-followers are called to live. That’s not to say that obtaining money and notoriety and happiness is wrong. But what are those things worth to you?
Are they worth more than your soul? Are they worth more than the people around you? Are they worth more than peace with God?
God has a different perspective, and we are called to look at our lives and our world through His eyes. So what matters to God? What has value to God? The example in the verses is mostly symbolic because generally you aren’t going to build a building using materials like gold and silver. But if you’re going to build anything, you want to use materials that will last. And that’s the point.
If you think about it, the things that are worth the most to God are the things you can’t quantify. Love. Faith. Peace. Trust. Obedience. Humility. Can you even put value to any of those? I don’t think you can.
Money is a tool as far as God is concerned, but it’s not something of great value. Think about it. The streets of heaven are paved with gold. Why would we need money in eternity when we’re going to be walking on gold and precious jewels? It doesn’t matter there. It’s not worth anything there.
The same is true of fame. What good is fame going to do you in eternity? Even if you’re the most famous person in the world, you can’t compare to the Famous One. Jesus Christ. God Himself. Your fame will mean nothing in eternity.
You see what I’m getting at. The things that the world tells us are important and valuable and essential to obtain during our lifetimes really aren’t. You can’t take it with you when you go. You realize that, right? So no matter how much notoriety and money and possessions you stockpile, you don’t get to take a trailer with you when you die.
So you’d better stockpile the things God says are valuable. If you’re a Christ-follower, your physical needs will be met in eternity. So it’s the other parts of your life that you need to cultivate—the relationships, the emotional wellbeing, the spiritual health—if you want to have something to say for yourself in the life to come.
The point, friends, is to put value on what God says is valuable. Don’t waste your time chasing what the world says matters because those goals will ultimately pass away. Pursue what God says is important, and it will pay dividends that will never run out.
That’s what true worth really looks like.