Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What are You Worth?

A couple days ago a woman told me that she lost $25,000 due to the one-day record drop in the American stock market. I was imagining what it would be like just to have $25,000 to lose. For various reasons we Americans live in uncertain financial times. There is plenty of blame to go around in these turbulent times.

While reflecting on the current economic crisis and how we all are being influenced by it (psychologically, theologically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.), I asked myself some questions: "What would I do if I lost everything? As many others have experienced already, what would I do if I lost my job? What if I had no savings, no investments, no money? How would I provide for my six-member-family?"

As John Henry Jowett wrote, "The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money."

This prompted me to ask myself: "What am I worth? Financially, if I lost everything, what would I be worth?"

What are you worth? If you lost everything, what would you be worth?

These questions probe beyond the surface of our lives and expose the deep-rooted conceptions that we have about ourselves and conceptions others have about us in relation to our sense of personal value or worth in correlation to how much money or "stuff" we own. Does your worth depend upon how much money you have? Must one have money in order to have personal dignity and worth? Sadly way too many people judge their own worth and the worth of other people based upon what their net worth is.

Scripture guides us here: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)

On the one hand, it is possible to be rich with worldly possessions yet be bankrupt spiritually. On the other hand, it is possible to have little or no earthly possessions yet be filthy rich spiritually.

It is far better to be poor with Christ than to be rich without Christ (see Proverbs 28:6). I had rather be a garbage man with Christ than a multi-billionaire without Christ (see Psalm 84:10). My personal convictions are expressed in the famous hymn:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

So, what is my answer to my poignant questions: "What am I worth? If I lost everything, what would I be worth?" By God's amazing grace, limitless love, and enduring mercy, I am extravagantly rich--and always will be--not because of what I have done but purely because of Jesus and what He has done on my behalf. My sense of value or worth is tied to Jesus Christ and His relationship to me--and nothing else.

Thankfully, God does not value us based upon what we have or don't have. God does not love us based upon what job we perform, whether we own or rent a house, whether we own several vehicles or none, whether we have fat banking accounts or none, whether we are formally educated or not, whether we are married or single, male or female, older or younger, or for any other reason one can fathom, except Jesus Christ. In fact, God loves us and Christ left heaven and came to earth, died on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended to heaven for us because we are sinners and need Him as our Savior and Lord. He loves us for His glory and for our good.

So, what are your answers to the personal questions: "What am I worth? If I lost everything, what would I be worth?"