Recently, I was standing in line waiting to be checked in for an appointment to have some allergy testing done. There were several people with the same plan, and the process was taking way too long. Some were becoming impatient. By the time they reached the check-in desk, the sound of their voices had reached a level that reminded me of a car engine operating on more than 8 cylinders. One person asked the young woman, “What’s taking so long, and why are you so slow?”
When it was my turn, the young woman looked at me with a stare that seemed to scream, if you breathe too loud, I will spit dragon fire on you. I smiled and said, “You are doing fine--you are supposed to be here because they knew you could handle the nonsense.” She lifted her head higher, smiled back at me, and responded, “Thank you.” The side effect of my words may have been encouragement, but my intent was to show the young woman she was of value.
We often speak of encouraging a person, but what is more often needed is acknowledging them as a gifted, talented, one-of-a-kind person who without him/her there would be a big hole unfulfilled, at work, at home, at school, in the classroom, at church or any number of settings.
To encourage is to inspire hope, instill courage and strength, and inject new zeal into a person or a group of people. Value places a degree of self-worth on the person or thing. Giving value to a person says a particular individual brings something to the table that no one else can at an exact moment in time. It suggests something has worth, is precious, and is something you will care for, protect, and treat as treasure.
There is a story in the Bible about a man named Zacchaeus who had less than a stellar reputation because his occupation was tax collecting. Not only did he collect taxes, but he supervised the collections and then obtained his personal wealth by pocketing unfair charges. He was a social outcast within his community. He was also a very short man and had to climb a tree to see someone passing by. One day he was summoned from his tree and asked to host dinner at his house for one of the most famous people in the community. An amazing thing happened following the invitation. Zacchaeus asked forgiveness of all those he cheated and gave half of his possessions to the poor. To others, he was a “loser,” a nobody. But the invitation expressed his value. It was not anchored in his behavior or reputation, but on the worth within him. It identified him as he truly was.
Jean E. Syswerda, a contributor to a Bible devotional, writes Just Call Me Ma! It is based on the Proverbs 31 Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character. She says that multiple times a day, her family calls her “Ma” when they need something like clothes, supper, a ride to the football game, etc. She ends her reflections by expressing the value of her place in the family:
“My children may never rise up and call me blessed. But I’ll settle for “Ma!”
You can take great joy in knowing that you are Divinely created with priceless value in love. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and personalized with specific talents, abilities, and excellence to fulfill your purpose. God never hiccups or makes a mistake about your worth. You are an original, patented by Him, protected from being imitated.
There is no need for envy or jealousy. Focus on the value that you contribute to yourself and others during your life journey, and I guarantee your cup will run over with your treasure.
1 Syswerda, Jean E. Just Call Me Ma!, NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, Prov. 31, (Grand Rapid’s Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990, 1994), 725.
I recently saw a headline: How Much Money Do You Need To Be Wealthy In America? The writer of this article probably was pleased with the number of readers and responses to this piece. Being wealthy, “living like the other side” and living like the rich and famous is always an appealing possibility to most people. Even though I was tempted to read the article, I didn’t.
Money is the Goliath that challenges spiritual truth. The foundation of this country is rooted in dollars and cents. It’s based on an economy that rewards you for having financial means to take care of you, your family, and others when called upon. Your bank account contains a comfortable slice of the economic pie. You are a mortgage-carrying member of the “American Dream.” Your children attend a private school, and you own several material possessions that shout prosperity – luxury car, expensive jewelry, a boat, membership to an exclusive country club, et al.
To accept a standard of truth, we need proof it is the real thing. We want convincing evidence we can reap long-term benefits from it, not weak or feel-good ups and downs. Money, according to economic standards, is a calculated truth.
Anything that leads to accumulating money (job, business, stocks, bonds, investments) is evidence of this worldly truth. When we have abundance, all is well. We keep plugging away for money so our proof can stay real. There is no need to rely on spiritual truth because we are comfortable and have everything we need.
But what happens when you don’t have money? For example, you become ill, you or your spouse are diagnosed with a terminal illness, your kids have to attend a public school, fire destroys your home and belongings, the stock market fails, or you lose your job or business. Do you stress out and lay awake trying to figure out how to get more money, or do you turn to the alternative choice…spiritual truth?
You search your brain trying to find any logical reason to consider relying on this alternative without seeing proof of its existence. You can’t help but question its reliability since there is nothing verifying it is true. It seems hidden behind a tall mountain. But instead of going over the mountain, spiritual truth goes right through it. The answer to this seemingly impossible task is found in the heart.
The heart is the center of mankind, both physically and spiritually. Unless you have a high tech medical scanning device, you can’t see the heart, but you have proof it is working because you are still breathing, standing, and thinking. Spiritual truth is found in the heart. Though not visible, it gives you a Divine personal connection which mere money is unable to equal or duplicate.
Unlike money, genuine/spiritual truth does not shift positions; it remains constant. There is no competition, no luck, and no betting. All of the resources, long-term benefits, and fortune are promises of Divine favor. God knows everything about you, loves you forever and promises to never fail you or leave you in the junk pile. (Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:5) He boldly declares and repeats those long-term benefits: success, prosperity, and health. (Joshua 1:8; 3 John 1, 2)
So, why not change direction and choose to believe spiritual truth rather than worry.
Let’s do a quick comparison:
Money challenges spiritual/biblical truth. As Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to salivate to the click of a musical device, we are conditioned to respond to strive for money and things. On the other hand, spiritual truth is believing that everything you need or ever will need has already been provided for you through His one-of-a-kind guarantee that lasts forever. If you embrace this reality, you will know who is telling the truth.