Read: Genesis 3:8-10; Romans 5:12-21; John 9:1-38
Every spring, we have the alley behind the house sprayed with a heavy-duty product to keep down the weeds. It is very strong, and it is not to touch flowers or garden plants. Of course, it goes without saying that it must be applied carefully and isn't to be swallowed by either animals or people. The parameters of its purpose are well defined, and using it correctly is safe.
I believe that the same thing could be said about words. They are a precious gift given to us by Creator God. Yet, James says that they can be set on fire by hell, James 3:5-6. Even so, the writer of Proverbs 15:1 says that it is likely that a soft answer will turn away wrath. No wonder Proverbs 18:21 boldly states that both life and death are in the power of the tongue. Like strong weed killer, words do what is good when the Lord leads and restrains us and can harm when they are carelessly spoken, Proverbs 12:18.
As I considered words, I thought about two similar word pictures that don't express God's heart toward human beings. Worth less and worthless. Let's first look at these two thoughts in pictures that don't describe people. Many years ago, we purchased a chest freezer. When it was delivered, it was noticed that the lid was dented. The seal was not broken, but it had an obvious flaw. The representative offered to knock money off the cost of the freezer. We took the deal, and we paid less than we might have because the freezer was truly worth less.
I don't have to go far to find a picture of what is worthless. Right now, in the garbage, there are egg shells that no longer protect the egg, used tissues and used bandages. There is also torn up mail that offered nothing of interest even prior to the time when it was discarded. Each of these items is right where it belongs. Worthless things belong in the trash.
How differently God sees people. We learn very early in the book of Genesis that God took special care when He created Adam and Eve. We are told that He made them in His image, Genesis 1:27. That is never said about the animals and plants as amazing as all of His creation is. Human beings were special from the get-go. In God's eyes, being made in His image and likeness keeps each person from being worth less or worthless.
I love the way the New Testament fleshes this truth out. It is there in Matthew 9:35-38 where we read of Jesus' compassion toward the crowd that surrounded Him. He healed and taught them because He saw them through His eyes of love. They were like sheep who had no Shepherd. They were helpless and harassed. No wonder, because He valued each one, the Savior told His men to pray for workers to go into His harvest.
It is noteworthy what we don't read in these short verses. We don't know anything about the individuals who make up this crowd. Not their appearances, their economic statuses or even their gifts and talents. We know their value because of the way Jesus looked at them. None were worth less or worthless.
There are so many instances in the scriptures that show the value Almighty God places on human beings. Let's look at just a few of them. One from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. We are barely into the Genesis account before we read a precious reminder of how God values people. We don't know how long it was before Adam and Eve took the serpent's bait, causing sin, death and shame to pollute Eden.
However, we know the immediate results. Instead of Adam and Eve walking with God, they hid from Him, Genesis 3:8-10. Where there had been innocence, shame and blame barged into their lives. God could have deemed them to be worthless because of their sin and all that He knew would be a part of the world because of it. He could have let them alone to live in their regret. Isn't that how people treat the ones who have let them down? As worth less or worthless?
How differently the Lord handled His children. He didn't ignore their sin, and He didn't despise them for it either. Instead, He promised the Remedy, Genesis 3:15. The Promised One would come and Satan's power would be broken. His unconditional love never waned. He didn't discard Adam and Eve nor hold them at a distance. The consequences their sin unleashed were beyond what they could understand, but God's love was even more encompassing and amazing, Romans 5:12-21.
In John 9:1-38, we meet an unnamed man. We call him the man born blind because we don't know his name. As we first encounter him, Jesus' men have asked a question that shows us how the Jews of Jesus' time on earth viewed folks with disabilities. They wondered whose sin had caused this man's blindness. Already, it appears that the general belief was that this man was worth less because of whatever or whoever was the cause of his blindness. It must have been surprising when the Master said that his blindness was so that the glory of God could be displayed. Already, even prior to Jesus' doing anything for him, this man was able to see a bit of His worth before God. God could be honored through his life. No longer was his difficulty some kind of a consequence or punishment. No. It was for the honor of Almighty God. Jesus didn't stop there. He made clay with saliva and dirt and placed it on the man's eyes. We don't have any evidence that Jesus was asked to heal or have mercy on this man; yet, when he obeyed Jesus' command and washed in the pool of Siloam, he came up seeing, but as the saying goes. ‘There's even more!’
In John 9:35, we read one of the sweetest verses in this story. This unnamed man had been thrown out of the synagogue by the religious leadership because he dared to speak up favorably about what Jesus had done for him. It is after we read this that we learn that Jesus found him. What sweet words. It wasn't enough that Jesus had healed his eyes. Jesus found this man and made Himself known to him. A miracle that shows the worth Jesus ascribes to people. Unbidden, He first did the lesser miracle. He healed the man's eyes. Second, unbidden, the Savior found this man and opened his eyes so he would be saved, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. God in flesh came to him to tell him Who He was. Though this man had been discarded by the religious leadership, Jesus knew he was neither worth less or worthless.
What a challenge for us. Do we ask the Savior to give us His eyes as we look at those we see? Do we look at some as worth less because of one of many possible reasons that are a part of our thinking? Or do we even see some as worthless because of something they have done? If we find ourselves straying into these opinions of others, thankfully, we aren't expected to drum up some syrupy feeling for them. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit within us so we can yield to God's love instead of our own feelings, Romans 5:5. I am thankful we can ask Him to exchange our point of view for His own.
Lord, the world both values and devalues people using a standard so different than Yours. Please give us Your perspective and Your power to receive it as we live out each day. Help us show people that You neither see them as worth less or worthless. That is why You took their punishment on the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:21.