val·ue noun \ˈval-(ˌ)yü\ relative worth, utility, or importance (Merriam-Webster)
God has been doing some amazing work in my heart in recent weeks, focusing my attention with laser precision on His relationship with us and ours with Him. When I rise before my energetic children in the early hours of the morning, I find pondering all of the insights that God reveals to me breathtaking. A devotional I read the other day during that quiet time got my mind wandering in regards to value.
My musing began by being concerned that I never want to love my work in special needs ministry more than I love the One who calls me to that work. (I wrote about this type of misplaced prioritization at our devotional blog in December.) As I prayed that God would keep my heart passionate for Him first and foremost, my thoughts began to wonder what sort of value I would have if I was unable to do the ministry work to which He has called me. Of course, I knew that my value had nothing to do with what I could do for God, what tasks I could perform or plans I could execute. I surely know after decade of being a believer, “…We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV) We are saved for good works, not by good works. Besides, what could we ever possibly do for the Sovereign King of the Universe that He is incapable of doing for Himself?
Additionally, I know after years of serving those with disabilities, value does not rest upon what the human body can or cannot do. My brothers and sisters who are bound to a wheelchair, who are non-verbal, and who are cognitively challenged hold every bit as much worth as those who have athletic prowess, or who have the ability to speak eloquently, or who are able to think deep theological thoughts. This is surely a major part of the Good News of hope that Christians are called to share with the world.
As I meditated upon this further, I awoke to the knowledge that something has value only because that value is ascribed to it. For example, gold doesn’t create its value in and of itself. It is of such worth because we give it that worth. Following that same logic, each person has infinite value because God has ascribed to us that value. Giving His one and only Son for our eternal salvation is perhaps the most prominent way He has demonstrated how highly He regards each of us. But if we silence ourselves long enough to be quietly in awe, we realize that there are countless other ways He affirms our importance each and every day.
Because of His boundless passion for us, our obedience and ministry service come as a natural outpouring from our hearts. As 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” (NIV) If we let this incredible worth that God gives each of us truly sink in, we can’t help but want to reach others and share such a profound message.
Suddenly, loving the work more than the Work-Giver seems utterly ridiculous. How do we ever dare let ourselves get to the point where our intimate time with the Lord is usurped by the demands of ministry? Nothing we could say, think, feel, pray or do could ever give us the incredible value that our Maker does. And while there is no doubt that being about the Lord’s work is life-giving and fulfilling, settling on that work as the object of our affection is settling for less than God’s best for us. It is merely a cheap substitute for the breathtaking love of our Maker.
Marinate on these thoughts a bit today. Reflect God’s glory in more profound ways by slowing down to bask in Divine intimacy. As Henry Blackaby so aptly puts it, “It is impossible for a Christian to be filled with this measure of love and not to be on mission with God.”* Seek first the Lord Himself, and you will be a most excellent leader indeed.