“Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
I’ve lived in Florida for nearly three years now. The only way my wife and I moved (and by that, I mean “escaped”) from Minnesota was due to God’s extraordinary grace in answering our prayers and a wild housing market. A crazy housing market. An unbelievably wild and crazy housing market.
When our Minnesota house went up for sale in the early spring of 2021, Jeanne and I were down in Naples, Florida. We were on a mission from God, looking for new digs after the Lord clearly showed us it was time to move on from the congregation I was pastoring (love you, Issachar Community!) and relocate to the climate of our dreams. (I’m so thankful my nostrils never freeze together anymore.) We were stunned when our realtor emailed us the report about our weekend open house a few days into our Florida scouting mission. Ready for this?
Our home had 127 showings and 25 offers in one weekend.
Yes, you read that right. Did I happen to mention that the housing market was wild and crazy at the time?
The best offer came in at fifty-thousand dollars over our asking price. $50k! We were shocked. Now, I know we spent some dineros improving our home over the seven years we lived there – we renovated three bathrooms, replaced the A/C and furnace, installed beautiful new gutters, repainted the house, updated the landscaping, and the like – but we never thought we would see that kind of return. Ever.
And we didn’t. We chose the second-highest offer because we loved our family-oriented neighborhood and felt the couple that made that offer would be a blessing to our neighbors. So far, we’ve heard excellent things about the new homeowners.
But in Naples, Jeanne and I were on the other side of the wild and crazy housing market. Florida was exploding, with over a thousand people moving into the Sunshine State daily. We would tour a house, step out for a few minutes to work up an offer, and then return – only to find out that the couple behind us had already locked up the sale with an outrageous cash offer far above what we could ever ask or think.
Thankfully, the Lord intervened in our three-week reconnaissance tour. On the second-to-last day, the day before we had to fly back to a home that we now had three weeks to vacate, I saw a townhome in a beautiful community that had been listed for only 18 minutes.
Jeanne and I looked at the pictures (5 minutes). We studied the price, square footage, and other details (5-10 minutes). We called our realtor and asked, “How much should we offer?” You got it. Sight unseen, save for the pictures. After three weeks of schlepping us around and trying to shoehorn us into anything he could, the realtor flippantly recommended that we offer a few thousand over asking. Frankly, I was stunned. In that insane market, no sane seller would accept such a weak offer. Ridiculous! But we were heading out of town, and nothing else was available. So, we said, “Do it.” And we waited.
My lovely wife and I were at dinner with my dad and step-mom that evening when we got the call from our realtor. Fully resigned to hearing bad news, I answered the phone. All I heard was,
“You are now officially Florida residents. Start packing.”
No way! No way! No way, no way, no way, no way (ad nauseam).
But the truth is it was a very big “Yes way.” Three weeks later, we tipped our hats to the Land of Ten Thousand Taxes and, sadly, loads of wonderful family and friends and headed south.
I learned two lessons from that exhilarating and tense experience. 1) A thing’s value is set by what someone is willing to pay, and 2) The Lord is totally in control.
The word “worth” in Old English means “value, price, price paid; worth, worthiness, merit; equivalent value amount, monetary value” (etymonline.com). In other words, a thing’s worth is what a person determines as the equivalent value of something else. In our U.S. economy, value is denoted in our fiat currency, as in “This and such are worth so many dollars.” Both parties must agree on the equivalent amount of dollars to exchange two things to make a deal.
What a thing is worth is highly subjective and is settled by what the prospective buyer is willing to pay. You can ask $5,000 for a vintage Beanie Baby stuffed animal (the chameleon is cute), but that market has long gone bust. The buyer may only be willing to give you five bucks for the cheap chameleon. Too bad for you, but the faddish item you bought for $500 is worth only what the buyer is willing to give. (For an interesting read on the Beanie Baby fad, check out How the Beanie Baby Craze Came to a Crashing End at www.history.com/news/how-the-beanie-baby-craze-came-to-a-crashing-end)
Here’s a quote from an interesting video titled The Value Of Things - How Do We Determine It? “There are no goods of fixed value. They are valuable as long as people value them, and only to that extent” (youtube.com).
Along these lines, I found an intriguing list while surfing the web. It’s called “10 Worthless Items Sold for an Insane Amount of Money.” Yeah, I have too much time on my hands.
Anyway, the article says, “Nowadays, the strangest and most random items can go from worthless to worth millions overnight. All they need is the right buyer at the right time…This list includes ten of those items, seemingly worthless pieces of nonsensical junk that found the right person at the right moment and sold for absolutely insane amounts of money” (listverse.com). Let’s look at a few.
“In 2017, a diamond known as the Pink Star was sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. A company named Chow Tai Fook Enterprises bought the rock for $71.2 million…Perhaps it’s the rock’s massive size, 59.6 carats cut (that’s only 11.92g or less than 0.5 ounces), that drew a buyer. Perhaps it’s the rock’s stunning color—a brownish, muddy pink.”
Crazy, right? But to the willing buyer, it was worth what they were willing to pay. To me, it just looks like a piece of glass in costume jewelry for which I would be hard-pressed to shell out a few bucks. No thanks.
Now, another example. Let’s turn our gaze toward Andreas Gursky’s photograph, Rhein II. According to the article, “It’s certainly a handsome photo with nice color and good framing, taken at the Rhine River near Dusseldorf, Germany…how much you would pay for a copy of the photo? No, not the original, just a copy. Chances are your answer came just a hair under its actual sale price—a whopping $4.3 million” (Ibid., italics author). $4.3 million? For a copy? Are you kidding me? You could probably find a different copy on a .99 postcard or for free on a Google image search, which I did. Check it out.
Again, insane, right? But to the willing buyer, it was worth what they were willing to pay. Now, another example. This one’s going to be hard to swallow – literally.
“In 1994, Florida resident Diane Duyser made herself a grilled cheese. Then, she says, ‘I went to take a bite out of it, and then I saw this lady looking back at me.’ Duyser and her husband quickly determined that the lady on the grilled cheese was, in fact, the Virgin Mary… in 2004, Duyser auctioned off the chosen cheddar on eBay. The hallowed Havarti went for $28,000.”
$28,000? $28k? 280 Benjamins? Why? Because it was worth what the buyer was willing to pay.
So, let me cut to the chase.
What are you worth?
You have a price, did you know that? A brief perusal of social media reveals some people will sell themselves for fame, often at a meager and degrading price, I might add. Some sell themselves for romantic relationships (Tinder, for example). Some sell themselves for financial security (workaholics). Some for both reasons by using romance to ensure income (sugar-daddies or sugar-mommas). Those are the big three reasons people sell themselves – the gold, the glitter, and the gals/guys.
Sadly, it’s always at too cheap of a price.
Only a born again believer knows their immense worth. Well, some do. Even fewer truly appreciate it. That’s why I’m sharing this thought.
Apostle Paul drops the truth bomb on us. “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of people” (1 Corinthians 7:23). What is this price Paul speaks of and why was it paid?
In ancient Israel, it wasn’t unusual for an impoverished person to sell themselves to a fellow Israelite to serve as an indentured servant (Leviticus 25:39-43). It wasn’t a bad gig. It helped cover daily provisions (three hots and a cot) and was designed to lift the bankrupt person from their poverty over time. Plus, the Lord put strict conditions on how the master treated his servant – with care and compassion.
However, in some cases, an impoverished Israelite may choose to sell his services to a non-Israelite (Leviticus 25:47-49). Although allowed, this was not the best situation because the non-Israelite may mistreat his Hebrew servant well or even abuse him. Therefore, the Lord included a clause in His Torah/Law that provided a way for a close relative of the Hebrew servant to step in and pay off his relative’s contract to the non-Israelite, thus restoring his kin to freedom and his family.
That’s called redeeming a person. Redeeming is repayment to release and restore.
Every last human being on earth has sold themselves off into slavery. To enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, we’ve sold off our eternal future with God and left His family to become embittered servants of the anti-god neighbor, Satan.
Paul makes this clear. “Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). Yup. We’re born into slavery to death. We need a close relative to step in and pay the price for our release from servitude and restoration to God’s family.
That’s why Jesus is regarded as humanity’s kinsman-redeemer. He came to earth as a human being so He could qualify as a close relative to every person on earth via a shared human nature within God’s family. He did so because His Father wanted Jesus to pay a redemption price, a repayment for our debt, so we could be released from spiritual slavery and restored to our place in the Father’s family.
The Good News is the price has been paid. Anyone who receives God’s offer of redemption through Jesus will receive instant release and restoration.
Here’s where we realize our ultimate worth. May you be stunned as this sinks in.
Jesus’ disciple, Peter, tells us, “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb” (1 Peter 1:18-19, italics author). How does Jesus’ blood pay the price for our life?
Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (NKJV). Jesus’ blood represents His life for yours. Jesus’ life atones for (pays for and erases) sin, so we have no more debt to pay.
The payment for selling ourselves off to sin is death (Romans 6:23). The only way we can escape our servitude to death is for another to step in and pay the redemption price with their life. An equivalent value is needed to make the transaction, remember? No human can do that because every person is caught in the same trap.
Except for one human being. The perfect human being. The God-Man, Jesus. Only His life qualified to pay the price because it was sinless. His sacrifice was so powerful and all-encompassing that if every person on earth came to Him, everyone would be released without diminishing the payment one iota.
What is God’s life worth? Such a question is incomprehensible. God’s life is of inestimable value, for there’s nothing like it inside or outside creation. God’s life is everything. It supports everything. Without God’s life flowing through creation, no creation would exist.
And neither would you.
What are you worth? Jesus’ life.
Judas valued Jesus’ life at a paltry 30 pieces of silver. Ultimately, Judas threw away his investment and life like a cheap, devalued Beanie Baby.
But Jesus’ life is worth far and above anyone can ask or think. In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, it is the greatest price ever paid in the universe or ever will be.
What are you worth? Far more than you can ever ask or think. Remember, a thing’s worth is equivalent to what is offered in exchange.
You are worth Jesus’ life.
When we partake in Communion, one of the things we’re celebrating is the price our Father was willing to pay for each one of us. It’s an outrageous price for what we return to the Father. But our Father doesn’t think so. He’s not looking for a return. He’s looking for our return. Many preachers have pointed out, “Even if you were the only one left on earth, the Father would have still sent His Son to pay His life for you.”
What are you worth? Whatever the Buyer is willing to pay for you. The buyer sets the price, not the thing being bought. Houses, diamonds, copies of paintings, and grilled cheese sandwiches? The principle is the same. And nothing in this world or beyond can beat your worth to your Heavenly Father.
If you struggle with feelings of worthlessness, stop setting your worth and reflect on the price paid for you. Given the cost that was paid, your worth to God is immense.
If you haven’t committed to God, now is the time to call out to your Redeemer. The debt’s been settled. Claim it, and let Him lead you back home.
If you have made that commitment, thank and worship the One who paid the highest price ever for you.
Long, David, 10 Worthless Items Sold for an Insane Amount of Money, listverse.com/2021/11/12/10-worthless-items-sold-for-an-insane-amount-of-money.
How the Beanie Baby Craze Came to a Crashing End, history.com/news/how-the-beanie-baby-craze-came-to-a-crashing-end
The Value Of Things - How Do We Determine It?, youtube.com/watch?v=VpuEDsPvEBA
Shining the Light of God’s Truth on the Road Ahead
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts