How do most people tend to view their true worth or value? The amount of money or possessions they have? Popularity or fame? Great accomplishments or success? Can persons who are poor, unpopular, and unsuccessful by the world’s standards still have true worth or value?
Let’s start with the poor. Here’s a parable someone submitted that teaches a moral lesson:
There were poor people in Jesus’ time just like we have today. In fact, these are the kind of people Jesus ministered to. When he began his ministry, he went to his home town of Nazareth, entered the synagogue service, opened the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61), and started reading, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor…” (Luke 4:18-19). At the end of his reading, Jesus announced to the congregation, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” (Luke 4:20-21).
The poor were attracted to the Gospel because it told them how they could discover true value for their lives. For example, consider how Jesus commended the poor widow who put in two small copper coins into the temple treasury. While the rich and the well-off contributed their money because they could conveniently afford it, the poor widow put in her two coins even though she could not afford it. Jesus saw this and remarked, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on (Luke 21:1-4).” The poor who have the kind of faith this woman had are of true value because sacrificial giving is what the Lord seeks in those who follow him (Acts 20:35).
The fact that Jesus always emphasized the need to feed and give to the poor is another reason for their true value. Jesus knew that by helping the poor, the church would be doing the kind of service that would bring a blessing to everyone. He used the poor as an example in his parables (Luke 14:7-14; 16:19-31), in his lessons to the rich on aiding the poor (Mark 10:17-27), and in compelling them to be saved for entrance into God’s kingdom (Luke 14:15-24).
Jesus also spoke of blessings on the “poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 5:3). The meaning of “poor” in this verse is different than the common idea of those who own little or no property or money. The Greek word for “poor” in this beatitude is ptochos and literally means “to crouch or cower as one who is helpless.” It takes in the idea of a beggar or someone totally helpless and reliant on someone else. In other words, one under this condition can find more happiness in subservience and dependency on God than one who thinks he is totally in control and acts independently. Why? Because he is more receptive in attitude, hence, more accepting toward preparing for the kingdom of God. (Cp. Luke 18:18-26)
The unpopular also have true value. In other words, you don’t have to be famous to feel you have value. For example, the greatest heroes are those who are not well known or even known at all. We have “the tomb of the unknown soldier.” Someone who gives his or her life to save others in the name of freedom, love, and unselfish sacrifice is a true hero even though we may never know who that person is. But it doesn’t matter. God knows and so God has rewards for those who give their lives in such a way (John 15:13).
It’s likewise true that true value may not always be the mark of doing the most popular thing but the least popular thing. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you,” (Matt. 5:11-12, Berean Study Bible, BSB). Christians who are trying to live a clean, moral life, sharing the truth of God’s Word with others, and doing their best to follow Christ’s example, are not the most popular persons neither are they treated with much dignity. Doing the right thing often leads to insults, unfair treatment, and even threats upon our lives. Why should we be surprised, though? They did the same to the prophets, the church, as well as to Jesus Christ himself. But our reward in God’s kingdom will be worth it all when we stand before the Lord on Judgement Day (Rev. 20:11-13).
Then there is the true value of those who are not recognized by the world for great accomplishments or success. No doubt, those who are known for finding important cures, or discovering new lands, or constructing beautiful sites, or setting new records are thought to have true value. But what of those who have never done those kinds of things? What about the ordinary laborer that goes to work every day, one who provides for his family, pays his taxes, and gives to the church and his community? Cannot such a person who is quietly going about his own business, doing good for others, going to church, living a good, wholesome life have true value, too? Of course, for this way of life is well pleasing to God. For the Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonian church, “But we urge you, brothers, to excel more and more and to aspire to live quietly, to attend to your own matters, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you,” (1 Thess. 4:10b, 11, BSB). It’s all a part of being “the salt of the earth” and “a light to the world,” (Matt. 5:13-16).
I believe those who have true value know the value of using their time wisely. Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, is quoted, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off tomorrow what you can do today.” The Bible says it this way: “Therefore, consider carefully how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil,” (Ephesians 5:15-16, Lexham English Bible, LEB).
Having true value also means recognizing the true value God places upon those who believe in his Son. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” (King James Version, KJV). True value begins with God’s love and how we accept his love in our lives. Jesus is the perfect example of his love, the One who gives true value to the life we live in him.
When we confess to the Lord, “I need You. You’re all I’m living for,” that’s when we find the true Source for finding true value through him. Here’s Jars of Clay singing, “I Need You”: http://youtu.be/ZHW7ryIAlY8
Good News to You!