“What You’re Worth”
Pastor Tom Millner
Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:16-17; Romans 8:38-39
We see web sites and TV programs that focus on enhancing your net worth. Secrets of saving and investing are promised to be shared for a contribution to the person who is offering the keys that unlock the secret so that their financial net worth can be increased at your expense. Of course they would tell you that the money you send them is really an investment in your future. There are many of us who have relied on the calculation of assets minus liabilities is equal to our net worth. Some of us have seen those numbers go down over the last few years at a rate faster than they went up. Is our worth really measured by our net assets? What about our name or reputation?
My lovely Grandma use to tell me how blessed we were to have been born into the family we were. She would go on about how upstanding and almost righteous we were in our family history. Bless her heart, she had a short memory of history of family. Her husband died after catching pneumonia following a drunken binge leaving her with eight young girls to rear on her own on a tobacco farm in rural NC in the 1920’s. Yes the family could trace it’s lineage to pre-revolutionary America, but that was no solace to a struggling family of women ages 6 months to 15 years. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t count my Grandfather as worthless. My mother idolized him and recounted numerous stories of his playing the violin as the family sat around the hearth in winter. None of the things that Grandma or Mom counted as worth, however, amounted to a hill of beans in God’s eyes. The good news is that all of Grandpa’s failings were not held against him either, by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Grandpa was a faithful believer!
Worth often translates to value in our way of thinking and behaving. I led a corporate change initiative for the subsidiary of a large chemical company I worked for in the 1980’s. The entire three day workshop focused on getting every person who was involved with the business, without regard to department or function, to a place of recognizing that she or he was a part of the process that ultimately brought value to the customer. We taught that the customer does not buy a product or service only, but rather the customer buys value as the customer sees value. Every person who comes in contact with the offering has the potential to add value to the customer. Every person along the value chain, as we called it, had the opportunity to bring additional value for the next person along the process. Ultimately, the consumer was the beneficiary of value to self, family, and community because of enhanced health. So it is with us here. We go where we see value to us in going. We do the things that we perceive as giving value to us in doing. We hang around with people whom we believe add value to ourselves. We wear the cloths that we believe show value to our appearance and we seek to please God in a way that will make us more valuable in His eyes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing these things, but the motive is totally off base. There is nothing that we can do, nothing that we can say, nothing that we can give, buy, or sell that will make us more valuable than we already are in the eyes of our Creator. If we truly understood what we’re worth in the eyes of God, we’d never do or say anything that would not honor the worth of every one of His precious creations!
Science is uncovering more and more of the “how” of creation. In that discovery we’re learning more about the awe of His universe. The one thing science cannot tell us is the “why” of creation. Why was the universe set in motion? Why is there complexity in the human that transcends the neural pathways of cells in our brain that can actually understand beyond its own boundaries? Scripture gives us a clue. According to 1 John 4:8, God is love! That God who IS love said in Genesis 1:26 “Let us make mankind in our own image, in our likeness.” Another way of stating this is God created us to reflect who He is. Problems arose shortly thereafter when mankind decided that the reflection (image) could be equal to the real thing. History was set on a downward spiral from that point. Seems like we’ve tried to outdo God ever since! You see, God created us as a perfect reflection of His love and when we tried to improve on it, we cracked the whole mirror so that the reflection was distorted and disjointed. God allowed us a history of trying to repair the damage, but we kept on making it worse. In fact we compounded the problem by making laws, rules, and regulations that led us further away from the true reflection we were created to illuminate. All of our wrangling then and even now can’t make us more worthy than the one who created us. We keep trying to see Him through our eyes instead of seeing ourselves through His eyes! So God, full of love that pours out in grace and mercy, did something that said this is what you are really worth! We’re worth the life of His very own Son. Through His eyes we are as pure as new fallen snow; as clear as fresh water from the spring; as bright as the fresh morning sun. Through His eyes we are fresh from the cleansing that has not only scrubbed us up, but also made us new within. What is it that distracts us from seeing the image of God’s love in ourselves and thus in others?
We look to our insecurities and each other instead of Him! God’s WORD is filled with the message of God’s grace to “measure” us up in His sight. We have a plethora of resources that help us understand His Word; modern translation tools, commentaries from Biblical scholars, and texts in modern terms. About the core message of God’s grace and mercy, the translators agree. Some self styled interpreters, however convolute the message of grace with conditions for grace that render grace not grace at all! We often don’t have a clear reference to grace in our lives. We view discipline as punishment and rewards as recognition for good behavior. Grace has nothing to do with discipline or with reward for good behavior. Grace has to do with the giver, not the receiver! Because grace has to do with the giver, we don’t need to worry ourselves about preconditions, stipulations or even post conditions. What we do need to do to enjoy the true depth of grace is to learn how to live in the light of that grace and let it be shown back to the giver. Notice I didn’t say we must do that or grace will be taken away or denied… Grace is not conditional. What God wants us to know is the fullness of His grace that enables us to live with a heart loving Him and each other because we see a grace filled self. God’s grace has nothing to do with circumstances around us. We buy the lyrics from The Sound of Music stating “I must have done something good” because “here you are standing here loving me!” God is standing here loving me not because of what I’ve done that’s so good, but because He is so good and full of love and grace! Exodus 20 gives us the account of God delivering His commandments. He says “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. [therefore] You shall have no other gods before me.” He didn’t say that they were to have no other gods before Him and then He would bless them, He showed His sovereignty and power and then said “now respond in kind.” God doesn’t hate, contrary to the assertions of a love impoverished church… God can’t be who He isn’t! We can’t be who we aren’t either, that’s why we need grace to cover us as we become who He died to free us to be.
It’s time to stop living as though we’re graceless. It’s time to start living outside our insecurities and outside our efforts to fill our deficiencies. It’s time to live in His love that is manifest as grace and mercy in our lives – not earned, not worthy, but loved to Him with grace filled arms. Don’t worry about that grace going away. He won’t love you any less – He’s already loved you with His very best! Be reminded daily that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”