September 16, 2018
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the theme for Sunday school this year, Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
If you’ve ever watched the Antique Roadshow or Pawn Stars, you know how quickly people’s hopes can be dashed against the rocks. The shows have different clientele, one takes place in clean hotel banquet rooms, the other in gritty Las Vegas, but the premise is the same. People bring in objects they think are valuable to have an expert validate their opinion. Sadly, for them, yet entertaining for us, it usually doesn’t work that way. What they thought is worth five thousand dollars is worth five hundred. Something that appears incredibly rare is the opposite. And regardless of the owner’s hopes, the opinion or the knowledge of the expert determines the value. Does it work that way with people? What gives you value? Is the opinion of others? Is it your own opinion? How do you know what you’re worth?
Modern society determines your value on who you are and what you are. If you’re a fetus, many say that you have no value. Unborn children are parasites or part of a woman’s body or an inconvenience. It doesn’t matter that what they’ll become or who they’ll be because right now they’re worthless. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, so bear with me if I have. A report from last year claims that Iceland has almost completely eradicated Down’s Syndrome. It hasn’t been achieved via medical breakthrough, it’s been done through abortion. Almost one hundred percent of children diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are killed in the womb. In the United Kingdom, ninety percent are aborted. In the United States over sixty seven percent of Down’s babies are aborted, up to ninety percent in some states. It’s a horrible lie that these children won’t contribute to society or that they’ll only be a burden on their parents and others. It’s a horrible lie that any unborn child is worthless.
It’s not just the unborn who are seen as not having value, the elderly are also viewed as worthless. If you’re elderly, I know that none of you are, it is said that you’re used up, that you’re a drain on Social Security and resources that would be better off used one someone younger, someone more valuable. In some nations, doctor assisted suicide is available to the elderly who don’t want to live anymore. How long do you think it will take before the decision to die is taken out of the hands of the person or that they’re pressured to take their own lives to spare others? It’s already happening! It’s a horrible lie that just because you’re older, just because your old, you have no value.
It’s not just others that put a value on us, we do it to ourselves. We look at our lives, our sins, our failures, and we think that we’re worthless. We consider ourselves to be too young or too old to be contributors and that we have nothing to offer. Our lying hearts tell us that no one would miss us if we were gone. There are as many reasons for suicide as there are for people, and yet in the end, many simply see themselves as worthless garbage. Advocates of assisted suicide use the argument that the people don’t want to burden their families, but if you have value, you’re not a burden. It’s when you see yourself as worthless that you see yourself as a burden.
It’s no secret that bullying is a real issue. It’s always been an issue, but it seems to be getting worse. When you’re treated badly by others, when they demean you and your achievements, they’re taking away you’re value. But again, what they think doesn’t matter and your value isn’t found in the thoughts of others. On the other hand, if you’re treating others like they’re worthless or when you tell them they’re worthless, you’re devaluing and possibly confirming what they already think about themselves. Remember James’ words from the Epistle? “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life.”
Antique Roadshow and Pawn Stars exist because people don’t know the value of what they have, they need an expert to tell them. So also, you need an expert to tell you how much you’re worth. And you’re worth a fortune. Your value is beyond estimate. You are priceless! And how do you know this? Ask the expert – God!
Our Rally Day theme comes from Psalm 139, where we’re told, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You’re made by God and He doesn’t make mistakes. When we say that we’re fearfully made, it doesn’t mean we should be afraid of our Creator. It means that we think “Wow!” look at what God created in me! You’re not a chance of science or biology, rather David says that God formed your inward parts; He knitted you together in your mother’s womb. Before you were even born, God knew what your life would be. He determines how long you live and as long as you live you have value. From conception to death, you’re worth more than you might realize.
Maybe you don’t see your value. Maybe you look at your life and see your mistakes, your sins, your failures and you see someone who is worthless. Don’t listen! Listen to the one who has made you fearfully and wonderfully. As Paul puts it, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” People are sinful. Their hearts are sinful. Their logic and reason are sinful. Our hearts are sinful. Our logic and reason are sinful. That’s why we don’t base our value on what we or others think! Get your value from God because He doesn’t just say you’re valuable, He proved it.
He proves your priceless worth by sending His Son. Jesus took on human flesh for you. If you weren’t important, if you weren’t worth anything, Jesus would’ve never come. He wouldn’t wasted time on worthless things. Instead, He became our brother, He became one of us. And we see the value He places on us when we listen to how He healed the young boy in the Gospel. We see our value when we see how much time Jesus spent with sinners, prostitutes, the outcasts, the sick, and the handicapped. If God really felt that you had no value, He wouldn’t have bothered sending Jesus. But He did! His Son came for you and He became worthless for you. God doesn’t care if you’re young, old, sick, handicapped, healthy, or wherever in between. He made you, He sent His Son for you. That’s how you know you have value! And nothing, nothing will ever change the fact that you are worth more than anything else.
My sermon for today isn’t a motivational talk, it’s not intended to help you achieve positive self-esteem. I’m not telling you that you have value as a weapon against bullies. I’m telling you the truth, God’s truth. Look to Him for your value. Don’t trust others and don’t trust yourself. Thank God that He has put a value on you that cannot be bargained down or called into question, because He promises you that because you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are absolutely priceless.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen