Have you ever considered why a few pieces of paper can purchase a car, lunch, house, or other things? How is it that they hold enough value that someone will give up a thing with tangible use in exchange for paper which is already filled – and that with something we already have a copy of?
The study of value is key to an understanding of economics. Our paper money is simply a placeholder, a common denominator used to facilitate trade. Historically, many items have been used for this purpose, to varying degrees of success. A well known example is that of cigarettes during WWII. Is paper money inherently valuable? Not really. How about gold? It has some use as an electrical conductor, and as jewelry, among other uses, outside its value as a common commodity of trade.
These things are given great value in our world, but lets consider further, what makes a valuable person, or otherwise a ‘commoner’? Recently, I heard a man refer to himself, with a degree of bitterness, as a ‘peon’ of the wealthy. In so saying, he indicated that they had a higher apparent value than himself – mostly in monetary terms. In other words, they were considered valuable, because they had succeeded in accumulating a large stockpile of what other people consider to be valuable. As he has not, he finds himself to be of lesser value, or a less-successful person, by this definition.
Value is closely related to scarcity. The less there is of something, combined with the degree to which people desire it (called supply and demand in economics), establishes its value. To increase fuel prices in the US, OPEC may merely decrease the availability to us, as in the 1970’s. So it is with people – a person who has much information or skills which others desire is considered to have a higher value – more people have use for the skills, and so will pay more to get a piece of his time.
In this way, we find a person’s value, as established by the world, to be the sum total of their ability to produce usefulness for the people around them, or otherwise their stockpile of things considered valuable. If we hold this to be true, President Trump is a very valuable person, while Bo the homeless man likely has none.
However, here, we find our discussion of value to take a different turn. While the world may establish value as shown above, God measures it differently. According to Genesis 1:27, God made man in His image – and so the human race is special to God. This is further shown in Genesis 9:6 where He continues in explaining that the punishment for murder is death – because man is made in God’s image. Humankind is not to be valued after the ways of the world, for God has established their value differently.
Though we are all under the curse of sin due to Adam’s breaking of God’s law (Rom 5:12), we were redeemed – or bought back from our just deserts – by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross (Rev 5:9). Although this redemption is applied to only those who believe, according to John 3:16, it is open to all, for Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world.
The value then which we see God places on mankind is not that of money, or of our skills, but rather it is the value which He places on His only Son, Jesus Christ. He valued us such that He came and died on our cross, so that we could have eternal life.
What then is the value of human life? Inestimable, for there is nothing in all the universe worth more than Jesus Christ’s life – and He valued ours enough to die for. Who now has more value, Bo on the street, or President Trump in the Executive Mansion? They are equal, for it is not money, power, or influence which determine our value, but rather the price God paid to save us.
So now my believing friend, for as a reader, I hope and trust you are such, what crime is it to not tell others of God’s salvation? What crime is it to show favor to the man in a rich garment, while putting the man valued by the world into the low place? It is a crime of miss-valuing Christ, and thus your own redemption. We typically enjoy being around those like us, but often forget that whatever good we have came from God! We ought then to try to bring others to be like God. Interestingly, in my experience, those valued least by the world, are those with the greatest degree of humility, and thus most easily brought to the foot of Christ. I wonder how many rich and powerful will fail to enter heaven, not because they didn’t know, but rather because they thought themselves too big to stoop under the doorway of the needle gate, or else squeeze through the passageways along the narrow path.
So, my outcast friend, what is your value? Inestimable, for it was for you Christ died. And you, my proud friend, should you be willing to be a friend to one so mean as I, what is your value? It is no greater than that of your poorest counterpart, and should you reject God’s gift, your perceived value of yourself will cost you all eternity.