What determines value? How is the importance, worth, or usefulness of something or someone determined?
Last week Mark, Kayla, and I went on yet another mini vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, where we swam, hiked Mount Major, and ate a lot of ice cream!
We also spent a day on the coast of Maine. One option the small coastal town had to offer besides stores selling merchandise, was a lobster boat ride.
As we cruised off shore the lobstermen told all about lobstering, and as they checked their lobster pots we learned about the value of lobsters. We learned that lobsters have different types of value. Not every lobster pulled from the lobster pot was valuable to the lobstermen to sell for food. We learned there are some lobsters that are valuable for other reasons; the lobsters that were too small needed more time to grow, the lobsters that were too big were considered good breeders, and the lobsters carrying eggs all needed to be thrown back into the sea. But then a lobster with no claws was pulled from the pot. This one had no value for sale or for future generations and probably became the lobsterman’s lunch.
When the lobstermen pulled their lobster pots up out of the water they were filled with lobsters, some with value, some with future value, and some with no value.
Watching this procedure reminded me of these verses in Matthew 13…
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus chose every day life situations to be examples of spiritual life. The people of His day knew the procedure of casting nets and pulling in whatever was caught. They knew there would be good fish and bad fish mixed together within the nets. They understood the importance of separating the good from the bad. The good fish would provide money and food, they were of value to the fishermen. The bad fish were of no value, they couldn’t be sold for money or used for food. They were useless, and so thrown out.
Jesus used this example of value from every day life to explain the value of people in God’s eyes.
Reading through another story Jesus told I find He defines the difference between wickedness and righteousness…
With his pockets full of money, the inheritance he received from his father, the prodigal son set off in search of things that he considered valuable. His father’s fortune was the answer to all his desires and dreams and they were about to come true!
And so he enjoyed himself as he spent his money on the things he placed value on; pleasure, friends, food…
Then there came a day when the money ran out. With no more money those things that had been so valuable began to fade until they were gone completely.
When all of the things of this world were stripped away he came to the end of himself.
All that was left were his memories.
Memories hold within them the power to determine what is truly valuable.
Along with the memories of his pleasure seeking, the prodigal son had memories from his father’s house.
As he began to think about his father’s house he realized even the life of a servant held more value than what he had there in the pig’s pen.
And so, with those memories, those thoughts in his mind, he decided the things in his father’s house, even the role of a hired servant, were of greater value than the things of this world, and began his journey back.
What we value will determine our actions!
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:20-24
The father’s response is a picture of what God values.
Even though his son had rejected him, placed no value on the things he provided, and squandered all he gave him, the father welcomed him with open arms.
The father valued his son and he valued his return.
His son’s return and his confession showed the father that he had changed what he valued; he turned from the deception of the world to the truth of His father.
And that was what made his son so valuable!
This is what made him righteous so he could wear the finest robe, it made him worthy to wear a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, and it was this new life that brought out the fattened calf and began the party of great celebration!
Like the prodigal son we all have within us the desire to value the things of this world. Since Satan was cast down from heaven he has deceived mankind of what is truly valuable and has stolen man’s value with his lies.
But God so loves us that sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the high price of salvation so that when we come to the end of self and see that this world has nothing of true value, we will come to Him and receive His embrace, be clothed in His robe of righteousness, and enter into His house forever.
That is where true value is found!
Take a moment and ponder these stories of Jesus. Ask God to show you if perhaps you are putting too much value on things of this world, and if so, remember, He is waiting for your return and will greatly rejoice when you choose to value Him above all else!