Friday, November 14, 2014

What Determines your Value?

It's easy to question how much I matter in life.  Do I matter more or less now that I'm a Father?  As a loving husband?  Because I've succeeded?  Because I've failed?  Maybe you can relate with the feeling, comparing yourself to others, wondering if you're worth as much as someone else.

We do it with our pay, our relational standing, our athletic prowess.  What's your value?

I think most of us have a sense where our own self-worth fluctuates between all of these things.  If I performed well, I value myself highly.  If I didn't perform well, I value myself far less.  If it's in the middle, I feel like I'm not living up to my potential.  If people love me, I feel valued.  If people critique me, make fun of me, or give me the slightest feeling that I've disappointed them, my sense of worth plummets.

The problem with this is we miss the fundamental question:  What determines your value?

I have sold a few things on ebay over the years, mainly old baseball cards and other collector's items.  At one point, I was selling two VERY different items:  an autographed baseball by Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, in pristine condition, with a certificate of authenticity (guaranteeing it was actually signed by him), and the other object being a toy from the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, with the stickers peeling off, scratches all over it, and the electronics in it busted.

I thought I'd make a killing off the baseball, and I really just wanted to get rid of the toy.  So I put them up for auction.  And the ball did fetch around $30.  A nice night out with Heather.  But the toy, that's what surprised me.  Someone paid $80 for a beat up, broken little toy from an obscure kid's show!  I learned a very valuable lesson then: value is determined by how much is paid.  It doesn't matter how much I thought it was worth.  It matters how much some one is willing to pay for it.

So what's your value?

I Corinthians 6:19-20 says this:  "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price..." 

Paul argues that we are not our own.  That we were once like slaves, but no longer!  We were bought out of slavery, and we were bought with a price.  What price?  The blood of Jesus.

What does that mean?  It means that your value is not determined by your self-esteem, your self-worth, what other people think of you, what you've accomplished throughout the day, or whatever other things you use to evaluate yourself with.  Ultimately, your worth is measured by your purchase price, and the blood of Christ is invaluable.  If you're a Christian, your worth is priceless.  You're a son or daughter of the King, so we no longer have to give in to the whims of what other people think of us, the feelings we feel when we do or don't accomplish anything, etc.  Your self-value matters no longer, because you have the value of Christ.

And because of this, Paul finishes v. 20 this way:  "So Glorify God in your body."   Because you are worthy, you can glorify our great God and King.  Not because you were worthy on your own, but because you were bought with the precious blood of Christ.

In His Grace,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weak Knees, a Heavy Heart, and a Thankful Spirit

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

There are seasons for everything, and the past year or so has been a season where I just haven't had the time nor the joy in keeping up my blog.  Between the birth of Shane, to the blowback from a post I wrote back last December, and an increase in work responsibilities, I've found that I've often just not wanted to put in the effort to write.  Part of it has been a legitimate struggle to consider what to write, another part has been fear.  "What will people think?" or  "What if they don't like it?"  I'm prefacing this post like this because, I think in a lot of ways, ever since November 6th, 2013, I still haven't quite recovered from the shock of how my life changed all in one fell swoop.  

Now, I don't mean to say "recovered" as the fact that the birth of my son is a bad thing.  Aside from my salvation in Christ and my marriage to Heather, Shane is by far the greatest gift I have been given.  He has given me peace at times that I never thought a child could, insights into my Heavenly Father as I see the genuine delight in his face when I play with him, and insights into my own sinfulness as he is just beginning to demonstrate hints of disobedience.  

I love him.  But he has constantly revealed something in me, and God has reminded me of this once again: I am weak, and cannot move on my own.  

Last year, before Shane was born, I remember reading 2 Corinthians 12 and wondering what it meant to really be helpless.  If I didn't know before, I knew when I was in the delivery room, where I truly was helpless.  I couldn't help my wife, I couldn't help my coming son, all I could do was pray.  And I prayed.  And I prayed.  

And God answered.  

Shane was stronger than the doctors expected, progressed faster than they thought, and by Thanksgiving he came home.  It didn't change the fact that I really couldn't do anything.  God had to do the growing, the molding, the changing.  

Fast forward a year.  Two weekends ago I purchased a small devotional by Spurgeon, often known as the "Prince of Preachers."  I thought, "Maybe this can be a useful tool in my morning devotions."  Yesterday morning I opened it up to find 2 Corinthians 12:9 at the top.  Here's what he writes about the verse:

"A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. "  

I've had an increase in my responsibilities at home, and at work.  I'm far more aware of my fears and failures than I've ever been.  And I'm even more aware of my limitations now than I did when I was a young, arrogant, insecure 22-year-old missionary.  (I guess I'm now an older, slightly less arrogant, slightly less insecure 28-year-old missionary.)  And maybe... that's just where God wants me to be.  In fact, if we're honestly looking at what the bible says, God commands that we come before Him weak and helpless.  "He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6, I Peter 5:5)

We need weak knees, ones that fall on the floor in submission and desperation to the God who can move mountains.  

We need a heavy heart, both to see the pain and suffering in the world, as well as the inner turmoil in the souls of our fellow man.

We need a thankful spirit, thankful for what we have, what God has done, and for the hope that is to come.

The more days I live, I realize how much more desperate I am for Jesus.  For the past year, desperation has often been the thing that has driven me to pray.  And for that I'm thankful.  And I'm thankful that every November 6th, I can easily remember my need for Jesus as I look into the eyes of my son.  

In His Grace,