Valued vs. worthless - there are many factors which determine each. One of the things you may not know is the origin of the word "value". In terms of accounting, a coin was minted with a certain weight - this weight giving it the "value". For example, if it was a brass coin weighing one-half ounce, it had a value, but not as significant as a coin minted from gold weighing the same. Since coins were kept in pouches and circulated in payment for goods purchased, they would lose a little of their original weight because in the process of being circulated, they "wore down". In time, the original value of the coin was not the present value. You know, there are a lot of things in life I have considered to be of such high value at one time or another, only to find out as I look back on them now they just don't hold the same value to me anymore. Whether it was the job I worked, the position I held, or the things I "owned", they just don't have that same value as time has allowed them to "circulate" through my life! Rarely do the things we hold so dear at one time continue to hold their value, let alone increase in value. Things are subject to wear and tear, supply and demand, etc. Each plays a factor in determining the present "worth" of the object of our affection. I collect older coins, not as a serious coin collector, but just because they are old. I don't even know what they are valued at today - but I know to some collector they might just be worth more than the nickle or penny value they were given when minted. To me, they are just neat and I throw a few here and there in a drawer. I don't live for the "value" they have, I just enjoy finding a rare treasure among the common! I kind of think this is how it is when we serve Jesus - we get to the place of enjoying finding those rare treasures among the common!
But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life. (Philippians 3:7-11 CEV)
We often come to a place in life where value is not determined by some external force in our lives, but by what we come to treasure in our hearts. Maybe this is why scripture so often asks us to consider what it is our hearts are "in tune" to at the moment. What our heart comes to treasure will soon become a driving force within our lives. Given enough time, the process of allowing the process of "circulation", the things we considered so important of a focus often don't hold the same value in the end. There is only one thing which "holds value" and in fact, you might just say it increases in value over the course of time - when our focus is held fast on Christ Jesus and his grace within our lives. Grace is actually a "multiplying" thing. In time, the value of grace is realized for the extent it is "added to" over and over again. It doesn't decrease with time, but increases! In fact, grace increases anyone it touches - for it is impossible for grace to decrease the value of anyone or anything!
As we examine what Paul was saying as he penned these words to the Philippian church, we find several key things he says about what adds value to one's life:
- Knowing Christ: Value is added by the relationships we keep (as well as those we shun). The determined heart will make room for the very best of relationships - not being greater than the one we maintain with Christ Jesus himself. When he is our "center", no other relationship quite measures up, but all receive increasing value because he is the center. It is kind of like he "adds to" every other relationship.
- Knowing we belong to him: Something is often determined as "valuable" because it is appreciated by the one who has it. I have those coins stashed away here and there - they have a "finders" value to me - I found the rare among the common and this was a treasure I claimed in the "find". The true collector of coins might actually give a different value to the coin - such as telling me the penny was worth four dollars in trade because of the collector's value in adding it to his collection. In considering our value in terms of belonging to Christ, I think our value is kind of like the value of my little coins - Christ finds value in "finding our hearts" among the "common" and making our hearts something of great "value" to him. We may not be "collected" by him, but we are treasured by him!
- Realizing there is nothing we do to "add value" to our lives: Christ does it all. When we realize this, we cease all the "worthless" effort of trying to "be" right and allow Jesus to actually "make us right". The very presence of Christ adds value. The grace he gives adds value. The change he makes in our self-directed, hardened hearts adds value. The closeness he provides in bringing us near to his Father in heaven adds value. All Christ does within us adds value. We are like a minted coin when we live our lives apart from Christ - one value at minting, but deteriorating in value the more life "circulates" us. But...when we are the "treasure" he takes hold of, our value changes entirely! All the "devaluing" of our lives through the things which have "worn us down" doesn't matter to him - he sees the original value in our creation - the value of being his child!
We don't determine our value - God does. We don't "live up to" our value - Christ within is what gives us increasing worth. Just sayin!