You’re worth so much because God paid so much

Everybody knows that if you’re looking to buy something that you can’t find anywhere for sale, check Ebay. Ebay has everything. Books and movies, clothes and cosmetics, cars and even entire towns! Ebay is the revolutionary one-stop shop for anything and everything you could ever want to buy, including grilled cheese sandwiches with Jesus’ face on them.

What I find fascinating about Ebay is what people will pay for things. Sure there are lots of outrageously priced items, but just because the price is outrageous doesn’t mean people will pay that much for it. But in some cases, people decide what’s for sale is worth the price it’s being offered for.

Example? In 2010, Warren Buffett, a world-renown economist and expert investor, put up an Ebay auction to have lunch with him. Granted all proceeds from the auction would benefit a charity. But how much would you pay to talk money matters with Warren Buffett? Well, someone paid $2.63 million.

That’s $2,630,000.00. Check the decimal places on that bad boy. Yikes!

We evaluate worth or value by how much people are willing to pay for it. In our capitalistic American society, that’s not a foreign concept, but how do you judge the worth or value of a person’s life? How do you judge the value of their time or experience? Those things aren’t as easy to pin a number on, but the concept is actually exactly the same.

money-finance-bills-bank-notesToday’s verses are Ephesians 2:4-7.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

Everyone struggles with the concept of self-worth. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve met very many people who have it figured out. I don’t. With Christ-followers, there’s something in our brain that cautions us not to think too highly of ourselves, and that’s absolutely a valid thought to have. It is possible to get puffed up, to look at yourself and your life and believe you haven’t got any problems and that you’ve got life figured out. That’s a dangerous place to be.

But we take it a step further. Because we don’t want to think to highly of ourselves, instead we get into the habit of thinking too meanly about ourselves. We downplay our achievements and talents. We deflect compliments because we don’t think we deserve them and we don’t want people to think we’re being proud.

God commands us to be humble, but is false modesty the same as humility? No. In the same way, pride and self-worth don’t go hand in hand.

I was talking about worth and value with a one of my awesome Forever Sisters last night, and I started wondering how you can even judge the value of another human being? What we have to remember is that we aren’t the ones who assign value to people. God does that. God says what people are worth. God says that the price of a human soul can’t be measured.

Even so, in God’s eyes, our lives were worth enough to Him that He sent Jesus to die for us.

You can recognize and accept what you’re worth without being prideful. Regardless of what you’ve done or where you’ve been or where you’re going, this fact is still true: God gave His Son for you. God chose to shed His Only Son’s blood to pay the price for your soul. That’s how much you mean to God. Think about that the next time you start beating yourself up or listening to naysayers or picking yourself apart in the mirror.

Your worth as a person can’t be judged by another person, because another person doesn’t have the power or authority to purchase you. God’s the only one who can do that, because He created You. He made you exactly the way you are, with all your funny quirks and strange eccentricities. God doesn’t make mistakes, and there are no such things as accidents.

Maybe the people around you don’t see your worth. Maybe you can’t see the worth of the people around you. That’s okay. You’re not supposed to be able to see it, but just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So stop basing your value to the world and the people around you on your ability to perform, your talents, your looks, your brains. Stop looking for worth based on what you can do or what you know. Instead, understand that you’re worth so much because God paid so much for you. And if God thinks so highly of you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.

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Is God worth my life?

I caught the tail end of a lifetime achievement award celebration for a popular comedian on television the other night. It was a fun show. Lots of laughing. Lots of very kind words said. There were a lot of good causes this comedian was known for–charitable foundations and good deeds and such.

This person had started young, pretty much dedicating his entire life to comedy. Sometimes people do that for their career. For some, it’s music. For others, it’s acting or speaking or competing. That’s the way it has to be if you want to excel at something, right? You dedicate your life to it.

But what is your life really worth? Is a career worth your life? Or a possession? Or even a feeling? Think about that. Don’t be flippant about it. What is your life worth? There’s never been another you. There never will be. You were created unique with your own thoughts, your own perspective, your own will. You are irreplaceable.

So can you really justify giving your one and only life away for a career that will only use you up and toss you away when you can’t do it anymore? Can you really see yourself sacrificing your years of life just for a possession that someone could take away from you?

What does it mean to be worthy? The dictionary definition identifies it as someone or something that has sufficient merit, value, or character. If a cause or idea is worthy, that means it’s worth whatever struggle you must endure to achieve it.

Most people see people or causes as worth living and dying for, and in many instances people and causes are indeed worthy of sacrifice.

But let’s face it. Even if you sacrifice everything you have for someone you love, they’ll still let you down. No, loving and investing others isn’t about what you can get out of it, but what is the point of dedicating your life to someone who ultimately can’t help you? Because at the end of your life, they can’t save you. And you can’t save them. Maybe you can live for that other person, but in the end, you’re both only human.

The same is true of noble causes. Yes, we should work to help the poor. Yes, we should invest in charities that help others. And, sure, maybe dedicating your life to a cause will result in great benefits to other people around the world. But is a cause worth your one-and-only-life if the only difference you can make lasts your own lifetime?

Is anything worth your life?

835971_83229648Today’s verses are Revelation 5:9-13.

And they sang a new song with these words:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
And you have caused them to become
a Kingdom of priests for our God.
And they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.”

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

There’s only one Person who is worth your life, and that’s Jesus. And that’s because He’s worth so much more than all of our lives put together.

You can give your whole life to Christ, and He’ll never let you down. You can dedicate your whole life to Jesus, and He’ll never steer you wrong. He’ll always be there for you, He’ll always guide you, and He’ll always provide for you.

Then, through His power, you can invest in other people without fear, because you’re dedicated to Him. Through His power, you can handle that impossible job. Through His power, you can life a successful life. But none of that is possible–not truly–without His power.

Are you afraid to dedicate your life to God? Are you afraid to turn over control of your life to Jesus (you don’t have control anyway, by the way)? It’s scary, letting go, and overwhelming because our culture tells us that we have to be the masters of our own fate.

But one thing you can know for sure is that God is good. The Bible shows us over and over again that God is truly, honestly, really good–He’s the only one who actually is. And if you can’t trust your life to someone who is truly, honestly, really good, who can you trust it to?

Dedicating your life to God doesn’t mean you won’t have trouble. But, hey, you’re going to have trouble in your life whether you dedicate yourself to God or not. Isn’t it better to be on His side?

I don’t know a lot about investments, but it seems to me that if you want to make a wise choice, you need to invest in something worth more than you pay for it. You should invest in something–or Someone–who can not only help you achieve your dreams but also save you in the process.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

Find a penny, leave it there?

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.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

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.

Hand-painted ornament given to me by a Sunday School teacher, Haven, KS

A gift worth more than it costs

Christmas is one of those holidays that everybody can celebrate, regardless of wealth or status. Growing up, I knew a number of kids my age whose families were much wealthier than we were, financially speaking. All of those families were extremely generous and opened their homes to my brother and me on more than one occasion. But I remember even as a kid wondering about how nice and orderly and symmetrical their Christmas trees looked.

If you come to my house and look at one of my Christmas trees, the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s nothing symmetrical about it. The ornaments don’t match. They don’t follow a color scheme or a particular theme. Most of the ornaments on my tree are handmade and all of them have sentimental value of some kind, probably because I’m a sentimental person. One of the ornaments I love putting up every year is the one in the photograph today. It was given to me by one of my beloved Sunday School teachers. I was in sixth grade at the time, and it’s one of those gifts that I have cherished for years. And I’ll continue to cherish it because of the relationship it represents.

Those are the best kind of gifts, the ones that represent something. They may not be the most expensive gifts on the shelf, but they mean something deeper than a price tag can communicate.

Hand-painted ornament given to me by a Sunday School teacher, Haven, KS

Hand-painted ornament given to me by a Sunday School teacher, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Mark 12:41-44.

Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Our culture would love for everyone to get caught up in the financial strain that is the Christmas shopping season, but I have learned that the gifts people love the most are ones that come directly from the heart. At least, that’s how it is with me. It’s those gifts that people spend time creating or gifts that people expend effort to make possible that stand out to me, that touch my heart in a way that nothing else does. Time is such a precious thing that to use it up for my sake means a lot to me.

When it comes to giving gifts, we need to learn to look beyond the price tag. Like the story recorded in Mark’s Gospel about the widow’s gift. This is one of my favorite stories from the life of Christ. Not everyone would notice a lowly widow dropping worthless coins into an offering box. Such an action would be lost amid the hustle and bustle of the big givers. But the widow in the story gave more than the religious crowd because she gave everything she had. It wasn’t about cost with her; it was about worth. And she believed that giving her all to God was worth it.

How often do we live like that? When was the last time we focused on worth rather than on cost? So many times we talk about counting the cost of following Christ, but do we ever think about what it’s worth to follow Him? My little wooden ornament made by Mrs. Reid probably didn’t cost much, but to me it’s worth more than a whole box of expensive ornaments.

Following Christ can either cost your life or it can be worth your life. There’s a big difference between those two perspectives, and the one you choose will determine how you see God.