The deepest longing of the human soul is the desire to be worthy, the desire to matter, the desire to be loved.
However, popular culture has prescribed material flourishing as the end goal of our lives. From a young age we’re taught to get a great job, make lots of money, and retire comfortably.
As a husband, father, and provider, this hits me in the throes of life’s greatest struggle. And, as I continue to talk with people from all walks of life, it seems to be an epidemic plaguing our culture.
Wealth versus Worth
The world would tell us that the first equals the second; if we’re wealthy, then we have great worth. However, loneliness and misery plague the rich and poor alike.
In religious circles, you may hear the opposite. Verses like, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” give us the picture that wealth is bad or unimportant. We hear, “Just trust in the Lord and don’t be afraid.” Trusting in the Lord and not being afraid is great lip service, but when you have bills to pay and responsibilities to keep, it’s easy to see which we choose.
So often, when we don’t feel the worth that we long for, we settle for the pursuit of wealth as a cheap replacement.
I know. I’m guilty as charged.
Just this morning, I was packing for an upcoming trip to Nashville where I will have the opportunity to connect with some accomplished authors and speakers. I found myself in an interesting position. I would be the new guy. The desire to impress and the desire to belong is very real in my mind. I caught myself thinking about my clothes, making sure my best shirts were clean and pressed.
Maybe if I dress good enough, look sharp enough, they’ll think I’m worthy.
Do you ever feel this same pressure?
There’s a great story from the book of Luke that gives us a clearer picture.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kind of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
We all know that guy, right? The one who pipes up in a crowd and asks the asinine question. In some cases, the question is completely off-base and the rest of us roll our eyes, but in some instances, the guy takes the words right out of your mouth. In this story, I think the latter is true.
Jesus is teaching a crowd of many thousands, so large that they began trampling each other just trying to get close to Him. As the crowds listen intently to His words, Jesus begins to speak. Just before He’s rudely interrupted, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of the things that can kill the body, but rather, things that can kill the soul.” He continues, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than sparrows.” (vs. 4-7)
Jesus is speaking to these people about worth. The kind of worth in which fear disappears and your value is found in the eyes of your Creator.
Then, that guy pipes up.
Rabbi, all of this worth stuff is great, but will you tell my brother to give me my money.
This man, not understanding true worth, begins asking about wealth.
When the desire for worth is questioned, we immediately go to our next option—attention. Most notably found in material possessions.
I dare say this internal struggle fuels the majority of overspending in our culture today. And it’s an epidemic that we need to vaccinate.
Jesus gives us the cure.
We are to see ourselves with His eyes.
Blankets and Love
Each one of my boys has a blanket. It’s a small, diamond-shaped, love-worn piece of cloth with an animal’s head at the top. MJ has his bear, Wyatt has his bunny, and Greyson has a dinosaur. These boys know their blankets. Even in the pitch black of their room, if you hand them the wrong blanket, they know.
Heaven forbid we ever lose a blanket. Nap time and bedtime are contingent upon the presence of this treasured, sacred, ten-dollar accessory. There have been times when we have driven home from date night, turned over furniture, and dug through the floorboard of our minivan to find, a blanket.
And here’s what you’ll never understand. To you, it’s just a blanket. However, in the eyes of the one who loves it, the blanket is so much more.
I believe that’s how it is to God. Oftentimes we fail to see ourselves through the eyes of the One who died for us. We fail to remember how valuable we are to Him.
In other parables Jesus speaks of lost coins and sheep and the pursuit to find just one.
Settling for some other form of attention or flattery is like trying to give my boys the wrong blanket. It’s a far cry from the real thing.
So, I believe the solution to solving the Wealth versus Worth epidemic we face is to begin seeing ourselves through the eyes of the One who loves us.
We don’t have to choose, we’ve already been chosen.
“You are worth more…O you of little faith…seek His kingdom…and these things will be given to you as well.”
QUESTION: Have you ever felt trapped in the wealth vs. worth struggle?
CHALLENGE: How can you help someone see their worth today?
This post is part of the Surviving Saturday devotional series at MattHam.com. If you found it helpful or encouraging, please consider sharing it with others.