How is Value Determined?

Value is something that we are intimately familiar with. Now, I'm not talking about value in the sense of the "values" that you hold, as in moral framework. I'm talking about what something is worth to you. Nearly every day we are faced with the question of what something is worth. For many of us, the value of motorized transportation is greater than the price of a gallon of gas. That is, we want to get somewhere bad enough that we will pay whatever the going rate is for fuel (I hesitate to put a dollar amount on it as it fluctuates on a daily basis). This concept is most obvious in our monetary transactions but it can be seen in other areas as well. How we spend our time is another way we can understand what we value in this life. Do we choose to spend time with family when we have the chance, or would we rather do something that only we are interested in, never-mind the rest of the family?

This brings up the question of how we determine value. Economically speaking the answer is fairly straight-forward. It either has to do with what people are willing to pay for an item/ service, or how saturated the market is with said item/service. Usually, if the demand is high and the supply is low then the price will be high. Diamonds, for example, have been given a high intrinsic value because they are hard to come by and people are willing to pay high prices for them. Since I am no economist, I'm going to leave this as it is for now before I make some grand error in judgment.

As you may have suspected, my point has little to do with economics and supply and demand. If so, you are correct. The other evening my wife and I had the great pleasure of attending the annual banquet for our local pregnancy resource center, the PRC of Stanly County. This is a ministry that we believe in and choose to support in whatever way we can because it deals with the foundational issue of life. This year the speaker for the banquet was Shawn Carney of the "Forty Days for Life" Campaign. While his entire presentation was powerful and moving he did make one statement that was more thought-provoking than the rest for me. In, perhaps a terrible paraphrase, he said  this:

We have a problem when our will determines the value of human life.

He preceded this comment with a tragic story of a young couple who was trying to have children and found out they had been successful in conceiving. They were elated and soon discovered that they would not be having one child, but two. As they continued to make preparations for their new arrivals they were told that one of the children would be born with Down's Syndrome. The decision was made to abort the Down's baby. Much to their horror, and the horror of the doctor, the wrong child was aborted. In their grief they elected to go ahead and abort the other one as well. This sent the doctor into a state of mental breakdown which lead to his residency at a mental institution. Why? We were told that his explanation was that "I killed a wanted child."

There are many, many things in this life that we get to determine the value of. We get to decide if going somewhere is worth the price of gas. We get to decide if buying the 2 carat diamond ring is worth the thousands of dollars that we will spend on it. This past Easter my wife was going to buy an Easter outfit and asked if I would like one too. I told her, "No, I have plenty of clothes and there are other things I would rather have than a new tie." I have every earthly and heavenly right to make that value call. However, there are some things, the things that are ultimately precious, that we have no right to determine the value of. The foremost of which is life.

God alone, being the Author and Giver of life, has the right to determine how valuable one is. Let's look at some of His own words on the matter.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them...God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good." Genesis 1:26a,27,31a.

You'll probably recognize this one.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

God thinks that humans are valuable enough to create us in His image, number our hairs, care for us more than any other created thing and, most stunningly, send His Son to die for us. This is the worth that God has placed on human beings and He is the only One who has the right to do so. You see, as we have discussed, value is determined by an agreement between the seller and the buyer. Think of cars, the dealership puts a price on the vehicle and the prospective buyer comes in and makes a counteroffer. This goes on until both parties reach an agreement. Here is what we need to understand about life. God is both the "seller" and the "buyer." Like General Motors or Ford does for cars, God carries the sole responsibility for the creation of life. Look at what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:13-14;

For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.

Like the potential car buyer, God also has paid the price to redeem human life. He was willing to pay the highest price imaginable to heal the wound of sin. That, my friends, is how valuable each and every human life is to God. We run a serious risk when we begin to devalue what God has said is of utmost value. While our personal tastes, dreams and desires are fine ways to determine the value of some things, they are absolutely inappropriate when it comes to determining the worth of a human life. That is God's territory and He has spoken clearly and loudly on the matter. All life is precious because it is a creation of the will of God Almighty. Human life is even more precious because we have been created in His image, fearfully and wonderfully, and we alone can say that the breath of God has given us a soul and spirit.

We must be very careful. The issue of life is foundational and it is clear. If we miss it on this issue there is little hope that we will get it right on any of the other issues. Sadly, the raging debate over life shows the depths to which we have sunk in our society. If we can't figure out that 2 + 2 = 4 we have little chance of grasping the more complicated subjects of algebra and trigonometry. Furthermore, we have just participated in the National Day of Prayer and the bulk of the prayers that were offered revolved around asking God to bless our nation. What right do we have to ask God to bless us if we so wantonly disregard His will and commandments on something as simple as life? We can rest assured that there will come a day when we will be held accountable for the low status that we have given the "least of these" in our society. God will not be mocked and His patience, though long, will not last forever.

Let me close with the theme verse for the PRC banquet this year;

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, be obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him... Deuteronomy 30:19-20a.



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