Valued by God

I’ve never participated in a blind auction, unless you count the lucky dip at some amusement arcade back in the 1970s. And I’m not sure that you would have considered the results very lucky. Certainly not as fortunate as one man who bought a lock-up for $100 in a blind auction. When he opened his acquisition he found that it contained the Lotus Esprit from a James Bond film. Having never seen a James Bond film, he didn’t realise the value of the car. He put it on the back of a truck and as he was driving it away, passers by recognised the the vehicle for what it was and radioed its new owner to tell him. Afterwards, he put the vehicle up for sale, with a price tag of £650k.

Value. What makes something valuable? How valuable are you?

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus devotes some of his teaching to the theme of God’s provision. Matthew 6.25-34 records some of His teaching on provision. We don’t need to worry because God is our provider. If He provides for the birds of the air and the grass of the field, how much more will He provide for His children?

Jesus’ point is not so much that God provides for us because He is so powerful. Listen to what He says in verse 26:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6.26)

God provides for us, Jesus says, because we are valuable to God.

Many people would have no problem answering the question “Does God love you?” “Of course”, we would reply. And the same would go for questions about His willingness to provide for us. However, the question “Are you valuable to God?” might be met with a moment’s hesitation before a “Yes” is forthcoming. Many people struggle with the truth that God values them.

Why is that? There is no short answer to that. There can be all sorts of reasons. The following, however, often block our sense of value in God’s eyes.

Some people don’t see themselves of value to God because they have been devalued by others. In some cases it’s not so much that they have been devalued, it’s just that no-one has ever seemed to value them.

If the early years of your life have been lived in a broken, dysfunctional environment where your value wasn’t recognised, then to be told that you are of value to the creator of the world can come as a bit of a shock.

Other people devalue themselves.

Sometimes we devalue ourselves because we take to heart what others have said and measure our own worth by the negative estimations we have been fed in the past or that we are currently being fed.

Past failure and the ensuing shame can also cause us to devalue ourselves.

And of course religion devalues us. Perversely, it doesn’t take much of a brush with religion, in any shape or form, to reduce our sense of value to God.

How can we begin to see that we are valuable to God?

The man who found the James Bond car in his lucky lock-up wasn’t convinced of its value until he went home, rented out The Spy Who Loved Me and saw his purchase starring with James Bond. He had to see the vehicle in it’s original glorious context before he could realise how valuable it was.

We were originally created for God’s glory, but through sin we became damaged and the glory obscured. Jesus however has restored glory to our lives. When we see ourselves in light of the original purpose for which God created us and which is being brought about in our lives through Christ, then we begin to see how valuable we are to Him.

God doesn’t just provide for you. He provides for you because He values you.

The power of because

Harvard psychologist, Ellen Langer, conducted some research about the power of the word because. She had someone approach the person at the front of a queue of people waiting at a photocopier. The person simply stated that she was in a rush and asked if she could use the photocopier. Sixty per cent of the time the person at the front of the queue complied with the request. She then repeated the experiment, only this time the person asked if she could photocopy because she was in a rush. Amazingly ninety-four per cent of the time the person at the front of the queue complied with the request. What is even more amazing was that when the experiment was repeated again and the because changed to “because I need to make photocopies”, the request was successful ninety-three per cent of the time.

Research like this never can be absolutely perfect. The huge difference, however, between the results attained when because  was used and when it was not used, tell us something about the power of having a reason for our actions and how that can influence others.

There are becauses all over the Bible – about 1586 if you search for because in the NIV search engine on BIble Gateway!

In Luke 4.43, Jesus says:

‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’

The research mentioned above demonstrated the power of because in influencing others. However, sometimes the person that we most need to influence is ourselves.

Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. He did what He did for one very clear reason: because that is why I was sent. His life and ministry was rooted deeply in His sense of being sent by the Father.

Why are we doing what we are doing? Why are you serving God? Why are you following Jesus? What would stop you serving? What would stop you following?

They’re not the sort of questions that should preoccupy us. Being continually perplexed about our motives is not a godly thing. Even Paul said he didn’t judge himself (1 Corinthians 4.3). Occasionally, though, we need to ask ourselves the tougher questions that do challenge our motives. The only good reason for serving, living a godly life, for prayer, study, etc., is Jesus. It is all about Him. Yes, there are other good reasons. But the primary reason that we live the way we do is – or at least should be – because of Jesus.

Feeling like quitting? Feeling things are a bit tough? Disillusioned? Disappointed? Wondering if it’s worth it all? Strengthen your because.

I’ll leave you with Peter’s quote from king David:

David said about him: ‘“I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken. Acts 2.25