A close friend and brother (that I love and very much respect) said something that struck me this week.
“As of today, I am most valuable here, not there. When I am most valuable there, I will be there.”
It really got me thinking about the perspective of value.
It begs the question, “Who places your value?”
We are just the jars of clay, formed and created by the Potter. Do we get to decide that?
If we aim to please God, isn’t it the Owner who gets to choose what articles are in His house? It’s really only up to us sometimes to choose which vessel we will be in this life. I can choose either to be a fine China gravy boat, useful in pouring out the Message, hot and spicy, transforming the otherwise bland into bliss, or I can be the trash can in the corner, useful only to hold and take out the garbage. Wesley puts it this way, "Yet a vessel even of gold may be put to the vilest use, though it was not the design of Him that made it."
When it comes to value, that’s for His glory to decide, not ours.
I wonder, where and when did Paul think he was most valuable?
Early on, I’m betting it was it when he was dragging Christians out of their homes, persecuting any man, woman or child in the name of the Law. He was top of the class then, a real go-getter, filled up in his flesh.
As Paul held the coats of the men who were stoning Stephen, I imagine our Masterful Creator looked over at this man and thought, ‘I will draw you to Me. I will transform you. You think you are wise. I make fools of the wise. You think you are stomping out the Christians, but you will write half of my New Testament. Millions will come to Me because of you. You will lose everything because of me, and then, then my little vessel, you will be valuable.’
To Paul, he was probably as scholarly and educated as he thought he’d ever be, busting at the seems to finally put all that learning to use and make a dent in this world, that is until God re-educated his entire perspective of faith and Jesus Christ... in the space of a few seconds.
Suddenly, this scholar who’d learned under the best teachers in the world, would go on to later count all of that as worse than rubbish, a waste, just for the greatness of knowing Christ. He realized late in life, but not too late, that it wasn’t about where he felt he was most valuable, it was about Who considered him to be of value, and how available he was to Him.
After he came to that notion, the man was recklessly abandoned. He would’ve gone anywhere, anytime, for Jesus. He gave up everything, all that was of value to his former life. His list of credentials flipped, from man’s perspective, to God’s:
‘Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.’ 2 Cor 11
I dare you to put that on your next resume. To even consider that an accomplishment! We strive for success, for recognition, for a measure of profit. For security and financial legacy. We aim for dollar signs and status. We measure in vacations and automobiles. We need to see the pot filled with treasure before we can call the day a win...and being busy, well, that’s our badge of honor. We wear it proudly, being so occupied that we’re out of breath when someone asks about our day...yeah, feels good to be so.....so.....necessary. So valuable!
Maybe it was while he was clinging to some driftwood, shipwrecked in the middle of the Mediterranean, that he came to understand that God’s economy was completely different. Maybe as he was being obedient to the point of being whipped and beaten, wholly available and ready to die for the Gospel, God was smiling down at him, saying “Look at my treasure. Look at the value of my boy! There are many articles in My House. Some are noble, some are not. But just look at this one, would you just look at my child! Good Job boy!”
Our value is not based on anything but the valuable price of Jesus Christ on the cross, for without His triumph we could never amount to anything. Without His victory we are bankrupt. Without His sacrifice, we labor and toil in vain.