Is it Worth it?
As human beings we are constantly appraising value and worth. On a mundane level we do this in a grocery store when comparing sales. We do this when ordering food for our children at a restaurant. We do this when purchasing new shoes. Our minds are constantly computing the value and worth of items and experiences. We want to know if this or that is really worth it.
Moreover, there is a sense in which we weigh costs morally. Recently, I saw a picture that featured an expensive new vehicle with the words, “I hope she was worth it,” spray painted across the side of the once waxed car. Clearly, the victim of infidelity had asked the question of moral worth. Perhaps the cheater should have appraised the sin more thoroughly. Still, we automatically calculate worth. Many ills and evils are avoided because the punishment or consequences are just not worth it. Otherwise, just imagine the road rage, the retribution, and the altercations we would certainly be more likely to commit if it was worth it!
God clearly wired us to be appraisers of worth and value. But are we good at it? Do we value things that have eternal value? Or at the end of our lives will we find houses and storerooms full of cheap junk, lemons (as in vehicles not fruit), and buyer’s remorse? Take, for example, the church in Laodicea. Laodicea was a church in Asia Minor and was the recipient of an important message from Jesus Christ, penned by his servant John. Pay attention to what Jesus has to say: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).” Do you see what’s happening here?
These people thought they had money, prosperity, and that they were taken care of. But they completely miscalculated the value of their status and income. What they appraised as worth it, Jesus appraises as not worth it in the least. In reality, their figures had been so off that their true status was pitiful and destitute! This ought to get our attention. It is completely possible that we think we are good bargain hunters in this life when we are merely settling for tin foil while there is gold being offered! In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see (Revelation 3:18).”
I have the opportunity to preach in a different venue this coming Sunday. I’ve chosen Matthew 13:44-46 as my text. In one stroke it is both a breath taking promise of reward and an accurate redress of our struggles to value the worth of a worthy God.
In the parables of the Treasure and the Pearl, Jesus presents us the following: two men, each finding one item of immense value, and both men owning nothing in the end but that valuable item. In the parable of the treasure, Jesus depicts a man who seems to be digging around in someone else’s field (perhaps as a tenant farmer). He unearths a great treasure and, in his elation, goes and sells everything he has to obtain the field in which the treasure lies. The second story is similar with only one noticeable difference – the merchant in the second story is seeking great value whereas the digger in the first story seems to have stumbled across his treasure. Nevertheless, both the stumbler and the seeker give everything they had in order to secure their prize.
Here’s the amazing thing: their prize was the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom means being under the rule and dominion of the King. The Kingdom means an alternate culture as influenced by this King. The Kingdom means transferred citizenship with all the rights and privileges of citizenship conferred. Just to have all the benefits that come with this Kingdom, these guys denied themselves land, homes, other riches, and sources of income.
Earlier I asked the question – are we good at appraising value? In our frailty and brokenness, we often place too much value on that which is not worth it. In the same way, we put too little value on that which is infinitely worth it – the Kingdom of God. So then, may we take hold of the salve that Christ offered to the Laodiceans that our eyes would heal and we would see our lives, incomes, and pursuits through the lens of one question: Is it worth it?