How do you measure the worth of a person?
I read a ridiculous article recently stating that Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was “worth” over $3 billion. Oprah Winfrey is valued at over $2.7 billion. And NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is supposedly worth only a paltry $120 million.
The world has valued these celebrities’ worth by a combination of how much money they have made along with how much they are projected to make in the future. And their fame, of course, is a factor as well.
So…what am I worth? I figure I’m worth at least the amount of money in the penny jar on my bureau plus whatever coins fell between the cracks of my car seats. Throw in a $15 iTunes gift card and that should just about do it.
Seriously, though, how does one determine how much a person is worth? Do you feel valuable? Or do you feel forgotten, misplaced or unappreciated?
Ten years ago, when my wife and I decided to start a family, we felt strongly that we were to start by adopting a child before trying to have biological children. This is not THE way to do things, but it was what we felt God telling us to do, so we wanted to obey. When the reality set in of what exactly it would cost us to adopt a child, we knew we couldn’t do it on our own. The cost was significant, but we kept telling ourselves not to adopt a child based on what we could afford or what was practical. We would adopt because God called us to adopt. He would take care of the rest. Besides, how do you put a price tag value on the life of an orphaned child? When you think of it that way, the cost of adopting a human life is kind of a bargain. God provided all the money necessary, and about a year after we started the process, we met our son in a Moscow orphanage. I’ll never forget walking up to the playpen area where he was sitting and playing with his toys, and seeing him look up at us as Maria picked him up and held him for the first time. He just stared at us with his big, adorable brown eyes and I just about lost it. I wasn’t thinking about all the money we spent, or the hours of paperwork we put into the adoption, of the 11 hour flight, or any other sacrifice we had to make. I just thought about this precious life before us that was now, amazingly, part of our family. My love for him was overwhelmingly overflowing, and our sacrifices paled in comparison to our new-found joy.
A few years later we decided to start a second adoption journey about the same time we got pregnant with our first biological child. This time we were pursuing a little girl from Guatemala. But the relative ease of our first adoption journey, however, would not be duplicated. We encountered several logistical snags too numerous to list here, but I’ll just say that our patience was tested quite extensively. In fact, almost two years after beginning the process we still didn’t see an end in sight, and we were becoming frantically frustrated at all the lies and disorganization being thrust at us. Meanwhile, our daughter was growing up without us and that tore us apart. The elders of our church invited us to a prayer retreat to intercede on our behalf. We left them knowing something had changed in the spiritual realm, and the next Guatemalan business day, we got the call saying we could come get our daughter in just a few days. Just like our first adoption, the cost was significant (actually, the financial requirements had increased!) but we had gathered the necessary resources thanks to the support of friends and family. We arrived in Guatemala, met our daughter, and were now a happy family of five (our first biological son had been born during the waiting process for our daughter). While we were staying with missionary friends from our church in Guatemala, however, Maria got hit with a horrible stomach bug as did another friend who took the trip with us to assist in translating and such. I was mercifully spared.
Spared, that is, until we got home. I was in bed for four or five days straight, and could barely eat crackers. I just couldn’t keep anything down. I heard my daughter running around, giggling, and the rest of my family all having fun together. But there I was, in bed, quarantined from the rest of humanity. After day three I decided to crawl out of bed and oozed into my car so Maria could drive me to get checked out by the doctor. They took a blood sample, and a day or two later I got a call from the U.S. government basically asking where in the world I had been that I could have contacted such a stomach bug. You see, the bacteria I picked up was apparently some kind of evil, microscopic alien from Mars and they apparently were bent on world domination and had millions of tiny spaceships hovering just on the other side of the moon, waiting for a sign that the earth was prone for attack.
In all seriousness, looking back, I can see that we sacrificed much for the children we adopted. And even though I lost 14 pounds in five days (fact) the sacrifice was still worth it. It was nothing heroic. I never gave it a second thought.
But when I think on the price that Christ paid for us, it leaves me humbled and in awe. He paid our price of death and humiliation on the cross, adopting us into His eternal family. Consider the following verse when thinking about the price God paid to adopt us:
Ephesians 1:3-10 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be ADOPTED as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Did you notice that the scripture says that God adopted us, “in accordance with his pleasure and will.” It was God’s pleasure to pay the price. Of course there was pain in the sacrifice that He paid on the cross. It wasn’t that he wanted to go through the pain (he asked his Father in garden to spare him if possible). But there would be rewards lavished upon Jesus forever for his obedience and love for His Father. And we (and our worship) were just part of that reward.
Hebrews 13:2-3 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Next time you’re feeling worthless, or that your life means nothing, consider the price that was paid for you. God could not have paid a greater price for you. It was the most He could do. Had there been no cross, no price paid for your life, you may have always wondered just how much God loves you. Wonder no more. You are worth more than anything. And no one on this planet is worth more than you no matter what Entertainment Weekly magazine says.
1 Corinthians 6:20 states that we were, “…bought at a price.” By diminishing my own worth, and seeing myself as less that what God made me, I am diminishing the price that Jesus paid for me.
Let us lift our eyes to our heavenly Father and give Him praise and thanks that he saw us worth paying such a hefty price for. And let us stand in awe and wonder that it was not because of who we are apart from Him, but Christ who lives in us.
We are adopted into His family forever, and we are now called the children of God, and we receive all the wonderful benefits of such an inheritance.
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.