What things are considered valuable today? The most valuable athlete in the world is Floyd Mayweather who recently took home $275 million in a boxing match against Conor McGregor. The most valuable home, dubbed “The One”, is a mansion in the posh Bel Air hills overlooking L. A. and is selling for $500 million upon its completion. It boasts 20 bedrooms, 5 elevators, 7 pools, a private night club with its own VIP lounge whose walls and ceiling are made of jellyfish aquariums, and a full-scale in-house beauty salon. The most valuable gem, a red diamond (there are less than 30 in the entire world), sold in 2011 for $8 million. The most valuable car is a 1963 Ferrari GTO, one of only 36 made, which sold for $70 million dollars to a private collector this past June. I often wonder how the astronomical monetary value of the items on this list were established. How can a boxing match be worth $275 million or a house $500 million? I don’t see how an event, a house, a gem or a car could be worth THAT much!
The psalmist warns us in Psalm 49 (vv. 16-20) to remember that wealth accumulated on this earth cannot be taken with us when we die. Our sense of value and accomplishment must be taken from a different set of criteria than that of the world. Oddly enough, the story of Cinderella illustrates what the Bible teaches. Cinderella's father had married a proud and haughty woman, who relegated Cinderella to servitude after he died. The "wicked" stepmother repeatedly told Cinderella that she was "common" and of little value but when the prince enters the story all that changes. The extent of the prince's love for Cinderella compels him to search the kingdom high and low until he finds her. His persistent love demonstrates her value and he goes to great lengths to be reunited with her. Jesus told a parable about the same kind of love in Luke 15 (vv.3-7). A shepherd with a large flock has lost one of his sheep. Rather than leave it in the wilderness to succumb to the elements, the shepherd searches out the lost sheep and brings the little wanderer back to the fold. This is a picture of God's love. He has gone to great lengths in expressing His love for us and demonstrating our value to Him (see Phil. 2:5-8).
The greatest pitfall to emphasizing the monetary value of things (or people) is that it truly distracts us from what really matters in life. Jesus challenged His followers to consider two examples from the world around us- the flowers of the field and the birds in the air (Mt. 6:25-29). While each needs the basic necessities of food and shelter, neither stresses over those needs the way we do. Jesus reminds us that God sees to the needs of His creation, and therefore He sees to ours as well. Instead of striving to achieve value in society’s eyes, it is more important to strive for those things God values (Mt. 6:30-33). In light of His love for us and the extent to which He expressed it, our perspective on earthly value should be drastically changed. The author of Ecclesiastes understood that labor and the things we gain from it are only valuable if we keep our focus on the Lord (Ecc. 3:9-13) and Jesus also stressed that if we lose sight of our spiritual goals because of our need for profit and value, we lose something far greater (Mk. 8:36).
In times of economic uncertainty it becomes easy to fall prey to calculating our value in terms of our earthly possessions and accomplishments as my friend on Facebook did. Maybe you have been having similar feelings. When those doubts come up, remember, God so loved you, that He sent His Son to save you (Jn. 3:16-17). The world and its value system may lead you to believe that you are common. That is not true! The Prince has traveled throughout the kingdom to find you. The Shepherd has searched the wilderness to bring you home. There is no greater value than that.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre