What’s it worth?
I asked the question of an expert, someone who transacted in these areas. It was my grandfather’s timepiece, his pocket watch, from a collection that he had accumulated over the years. I had no intention of selling it, but I was curious about its real market value. He informed me that it was of little value based on its condition, but I remember in that moment understanding how wrong he was in his assessment.
This watch was invaluable. It belonged to my grandfather. That’s a value, a worth, that money can’t quantify.
How we derive value in the world is an interesting study. I can tell you from my first-year economics class that, in a free market enterprise, value is determined by supply and demand. We see it in real time today. Inflation is historically high due, in part, to a disrupted supply chain. Your 401(k) probably looks like a 301(k) based on market losses of the last year. And housing values that were at an all-time high are now plummeting due to a drastic rise in interest rates.
What’s it worth?
We are constantly asking ourselves and others this question, not just about timepieces or investment portfolios or houses, but about time and effort and people.
Is a Masters Degree worth the time and money and effort? Will it get me the job that I want?
Is this relationship worth the emotional investment? Will it end in marriage or in ashes?
Is having children worth the stress and financial output? Will it take away my freedom?
These are questions that people are asking everyday. All of these questions can be summed up in this: Is it worth it?
Worth is in the eye of the beholder.
As human beings, our worth lands on a spectrum of values.
We find our worth in what we do well, what family we come from, and how much money we have to our name. We find it in who we love and what we love and how we love.
But in the midst of all of this, there is a nagging reality to find our value in our performance. Every last one of us feels unworthy of love and that we have to prove our worth. We all ask this nagging, existential question: Am I enough?
Every one of us.
David Letterman is one of the most successful late-night talk show hosts in American history. Here’s how he articulated the pressure of performance in regard to his own value:
“Every night you’re trying to prove your self-worth. It’s like meeting your girlfriend’s family for the first time. You want to be the absolute best, wittiest, smartest, most charming, best-smelling version of yourself. If I can make people enjoy the experience and have a higher regard for me when I’m finished, it makes me feel like an entire person. If I’ve come short of that, I’m not happy. How things go for me every night is how I feel about myself for the next 24 hours.”
This insecurity is not derived from our environment. If anything, the world around us reinforces it. But it is something that was with us long before, that is built into our DNA.
We struggle with self-worth. We wonder if we will ever be enough.
This past Sunday, I preached one of the hardest messages I have ever given in all my years of ministry. I told the story of my own broken sexuality, and unpacked how humanity, since Genesis Chapter Three, has experienced and lived out our brokenness in this sphere of our human existence. God’s intention of sexual expression, clearly defined in Scripture as one man and one woman within the bonds of covenantal marriage, has been distorted and misused. And one the main arenas of misuse is this one: we use sex to feel value.
Every last one of us.
How many boys feel like men because they’ve “scored” with a girl? How many girls feel incomplete because they don’t have a boyfriend? And how often do these themes continue to haunt us, well into adulthood? I have counseled countless men who still act like boys by binging on porn or sleeping with multiple partners. My wife has counseled innumerable women who continue to make the same mistake, chasing men who manipulate them instead of love them well.
All in the name of value. All in an effort to feel some measure of worth.
Which is why my grandfather’s pocket watch provides valuable insight into the discussion of broken human sexuality. Why?
Because the value is not based on the watch but instead based on who owned it. It is invaluable to me because it belonged to my grandfather. And in the same way, you and I derive our earthly (and eternal) value based not on who we are but on whose we are.
First Corinthians chapter six clearly delineates this worth. Paul is writing to a church steeped in sexual immorality. It is a letter to the followers of Christ in Ancient Corinth, but could be applied to any church in our modern context. After laying out the case against sexual immorality, Paul writes these words in verses 19 and 20:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
So what was the “price” that Paul is referring to?
The life of Jesus Christ. He purchased our redemption with His very own life, with His very own blood.
There is nothing that will convince you of your value apart from the revelation of God’s worth that you possess in belonging to Him. Everything else will simply be a temporary appraisal, quickly losing its value and leaving you feeling more impoverished and worthless than before.
This is the good news of the Gospel. You are not your own, meaning that it is not up to you to discover, establish or prove your value. Instead, you carry immeasurable worth because you bear the very image of God and belong to Him. And as you yield your life and heart and soul and rights to HIS Lordship and leadership, you find value far beyond that which you could have ever imagined. You discover that, because He is enough, you are enough.
And we, in turn, honor Christ with our bodies. Because He redeemed us with His.