Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, don’t tell that to the city assessment person of Sparta Township! Tis’ that time of the year again. This past Tuesday in the mail we got a postcard telling us how much (or how little) our house is worth. Some rando, who has barely walked the perimeter of our yard, tells us how much value my house has. What a crock?! He doesn’t step inside. He doesn’t look around. He doesn’t recognize all that my house has to offer. A quick glance, a swift judgement, and a proposed number with a dollar sign in front. To be sure, he doesn’t see the quirks or inconsistences on the interior. This is a good thing I suppose. But this also means he hasn’t seen the upgrades or improvements we’ve made over the past three years. He is clueless to the ways we’ve enhanced the value. Mr. or Mrs. City Assessor looks at the exterior, peruses the surface, and thinks he/she knows all they need to make an accurate assessment of our home’s value. I’m sure they have some tool or tracking device. They probably have magical method in their computer system. They undoubtedly have some fair market value algorithm. But at the end of the day, it is all on a surface level, based solely on outward appearances.
Ironically, the same day we were told how much our house is “fairly” assessed at, we also received a mailing from local realtors telling us how much homes similar to ours are selling for. Of course, they are looking to drum up business for themselves. But it is clearly a sellers’ market. No one purchasing a home seems to care about what Mr. or Mrs. City Assessor has to say. Homes are selling for far more than what they appear to be worth. I have no doubt that if I put my house up for sale today, it would sell instantly and at a price far beyond what that flimsy white postcard told me.
So where am I going with this? I’m glad you asked. From a worldly perspective, so much of a person’s worth today is determined by external factors. What is your salary? How big is your house? How powerful is your position? How happy is your marriage? How well-behaved are your children? How wide is your influence? How successful are you? How good are your grades? This list can go on and on. But the common thread in these questions is an emphasis on the external, an obsession with the superficial, a relentless mindset on materialism. Our criteria-gripped culture has become so fascinated and fixated on stuff and success. From this quick calculation, they (and we too at times) will place people into categories. They will determine our value. They will label our worth. Very rarely will the world slow down, to look beyond the proverbial front door and window shades, to see the hidden value of people.
God functions differently. Thank goodness! Our hidden value, which really isn’t hidden at all, is found in who God has created and redeemed us to be. I’m valuable and full of worth because God declares it. You are valuable and full of worth because God declares it. Not because we’ve earned it, acquired it, or even lucked out. We are each valuable and of incredible worth… because God in His goodness looked at us and said, “I created you. You are loved. You belong to me.” The Bible tells us that in the eyes of God we are precious, honored, and loved—even and despite all our internal and external quirks, inconsistences, and imperfections! Perhaps you have heard these words of the Lord before, spoken to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) The Lord’s point, at Eliab’s expense, was that He doesn’t measure value and worth in the same way the rest of the sinful world does. It doesn’t matter what type of clothes you wear, how many jewels adorn your head, or the size of your entourage. God is not impressed by such external means; thus we dare not put too much weight into them. Our value and worth should not be assessed by anything other than this—that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I’m sure most of you already know and believe this. This is not breaking news. Afterall, this is the beautiful and timeless message of the Gospel. But it is a reminder we all need to hear from time-to-time. It feels good to bask in the love of the Creator. It is soothing to soak in the presence of a God who loves you. So perhaps I should say, “Thank you Mr. or Mrs. City Assessor.” Not for the FMV of my humble abode—but for the opportunity to use that now-trashed postcard as an instrument to preach God’s great love for us all. It can not be measured by a formula. It cannot be ascertained by simple or complicated equations. We are of infinite and beloved value to the Creator. Period. It’s an uplifting reminder to say the least. This is a message our world desperately needs to hear. Older people need to know that their value doesn’t age. All people need to know their value isn’t contingent on other relationships or job success. Young people especially need to hear this. The worth or our children and grandchildren is not dependent on how hard they can hit a baseball. It is not determined by how many A’s they can on their report card. It is contingent on their popularity. To each and every one of us, the scriptures declare, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Chosen. Holy. The Lord’s own possession. Now that’s an assessment worth plastering and proclaiming all over the place. Spread the word, take it for yourself, and rejoice in your value to the Creator. Put that on a postcard and mail it!
“Don't undervalue yourself. God loves you. Your worth is what you are worth to God. Jesus died for you. You are of infinite value.” (Nicky Gumble)
“Be kind to yourself. God thinks you’re worth his kindness. And he’s a good judge of character.” (Max Lucado)
“Jesus thought you were worth dying for. How rude not to agree with Him.” (Mark Lowry)
Pastor Steve Vera