Imagine for a moment that you own a valuable treasure.
You would, of course, value it highly.
And suppose that obtaining this treasure had cost you very dearly.
You would cherish it all the more.
And suppose you knew that in the future your treasure would become
even greater in its beauty and worth. You would, if possible,
consider it more precious still.
You are all this, and more, to God.
Let’s think a moment, about you.
The Bible admonishes each of us, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3). Discussing the importance of every individual—your importance—is necessary because may of us just don’t think with sober judgment about ourselves. It seems we fluctuate from one extreme to another.
I heard about a man who went to a psychiatrist and complained that his friends were all avoiding him. The psychiatrist asked him to sit down and tell him everything, starting at the beginning.
“Alright,” the man said. “In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth.”
That’s just a story, but there we have the central sin of man-putting himself in the place of God.
At the other extreme there are some Christians who are like the cat who frequently had its tail stepped on. Its self-image was so low that the cat resigned itself to a lifetime of having its tail stepped on. Whenever someone came by, it simply turned and stuck out its tail. Many of us may, deep in our heats, feel just that way.
How about you? Maybe you feel uncomfortable down inside, insecure or fearful or frustrated. You smile as you pass by others and you laugh with your friends, but you know the truth of Proverbs 14:13—”Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” Have you ever put a smile on your face to hide a tear in your heart? Sometimes, as you know, outward bravado simply masks inner insecurity.
Why do we have these attitudes toward ourselves: One reason is that we compare ourselves with others. The Bible says this is unwise. The result is invariably bad: Either we think we’re better than someone else, and so we become proud; or we think we’re worse and become depressed.
We also look at ourselves and others from a mere human point of view. Yet we read in 2 Corinthians 5:16, “From now on we regard no one from a human point of view.” In this chapter Paul was explaining what it means to be a new creation in Christ. He said he once regarded even Christ from a human point of view, but no longer. Now we also can see Christ, as well as each other and ourselves, from God’s point of view.
God is interested in individuals. I like Jesus’ parable in Luke 15 of the ninety-nine sheep and the one that was lost. The shepherd left the ninety-nine and went out until he found the missing one. Jesus was telling us of the importance God places on one person.
At another time Jesus was coming into Jericho. The streets were jammed with people so a short man named Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see him. When Jesus came by, of all the people there he picked out this one little guy and said, “Come down, Zacchaeus, I’m coming to your house today!”
And when Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died in Bethany, Jesus went there. After Martha had spoken with Jesus, she went to Mary and said, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” That is true also for us. The Lord is here and he’s calling for you. It’s not like seeing someone beckon in your direction, and then discovering it’s for someone else. No, the Lord asks for you, because you are important to him.
I can give you three reasons why you are important to God: first, simply because of who you are; second, because of what you cost; and third, because of what you can become.
You are a being created in the image of God. “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
People often ask, “Who am I?” I’ve come to see that the answer to this is impossible without mentioning a relationship to someone else. And the ultimate answer is who I am in relationship to God.
Who are you? You are a being created in God’s image. That means first of all that you have a unique, recognizable personality. You are an original. I like the Gaithers’ children’s song,
You’re the only one of your kind;
God gave you a body and a bright healthy mind;
He had a special purpose that he wanted you to find;
So he made you something special—you’re the only one of your kind.
Not only are you an original personality, but God gave you the power of abstract thought. You can ask such questions as “Who am I?” or “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?”
You also have a moral faculty. You can choose right or wrong. In fact, the concept of right and wrong is built into us. The Ten Commandments are the expression of God’s character, and they are written into the laws of the universe and into the constitution of every human being. That to me is evident by the fact that people are not content just to sin, but they have to justify it. They may go to great lengths to justify their sin, because within them a moral law has been planted.
Three Reasons You Are Important to God:
I. Who you are-God the Father created you in His image.
II. What you cost-Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for your redemption.
III. What you can become-The Holy Spirit’s transforming power can mold you into a godly person.
One of my children, before he was five, was sitting next to me on the couch and looked up and asked me this blockbuster: “Daddy, what makes me naughty?” Not yet five, but he knew right from wrong. God has built that into every human being.
Not only do you have personality, the power of abstract thought, and a moral faculty, but you also have a spiritual nature. We can experience God, and there is something in us whereby we are left empty and unsatisfied until we do experience him. We’re restless until we discover what is beyond us. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we read that God “set eternity in the hearts of men.” Something inside tells us we were made for eternity. A flower blooms and dies; but a person continues forever to be, to think, to feel.
Therefore you are valuable. In fact, one individual is worth more than the whole earth. Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).
You are also important to God by virtue of what you cost. On a visit to Hawaii we saw quilts for sale for $800. We asked why they cost so much and were told that they were handmade by South Sea islanders who spent seven to eight months making each one. Those quilts cost hundreds of working hours to make—and the value of something is determined by its cost.
Now think of what you cost God: “God so loved the world”—you—”that he gave his one and only Son.” You cost God the best heaven had.
When I was with the Billy Graham team at a crusade in Scotland, one of the reporters covering the meetings was back at his newspaper office where other staff members were criticizing the crusade. This reporter found himself defending Billy Graham. “Why, Billy Graham preaches that Christ died for sinners,” he said, warming to his subject. “In fact,” he said, “Christ died for me.” In that instant he suddenly realized for the first time that Christ had indeed died for him, and he believed and was born again.
Have you seen Christ on the cross for you? That’s what you cost God, and you are valuable to God by virtue of that cost. Peter wrote, “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (Peter 1:18-19).
Don’t ever say you or anyone else is worthless. That is a human point of view. A person may be lazy, or dull, or aggravating, or even repulsive, but he’s not worthless. He was created in the image of God, and he was purchased by the blood of Christ.
You are also important to God because of what you can become under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Another of my favorite verses is John 1:42—”Then he brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).” Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are… but you will be….”
Jesus saw in Simon what he could become under the Holy Spirit’s power: You are Simon—you will be Peter; you are a small stone—you will be a big rock; you are a moral coward at this time—you will be courageous; you are unreliable and unstable—you will be stable and steady. We see what Jesus meant when Peter abjectly denies his Lord, but later preaches Christ boldly to the leaders in Jerusalem.
You may be filled now with hostility, but you can be filled with forgiveness. You may be filled with impure thoughts, but your thoughts can be made pure. You may be fearful, but you can be filled with peace.
A few years ago I received a letter from a businessman taking me to task for something in which I actually was not involved. I could have written to him explaining that I did not have a part in it, but I prayed about it and instead telephoned him and asked if we could have lunch together. When we did, no sooner had we placed the order than his lip began to quiver.
“Lorne,” he said, “I’m sorry I wrote you that letter. I have been filled with hostility for years. My wife and I don’t communicate and we haven’t for years, I’ve driven off my children, I have a war on with my neighbors, and it seems I’m constantly at odds with the people I work for. It pervades my whole life. And I just feel if I don’t get it straightened out soon this will be my last chance.” Then he said, “I need a parole officer, someone I’ve got to check in with.
“If you would like, I’ll be your parole officer,” I answered. “You can check in with me.” He began coming over to my home, and the first thing I got him to do was to memorize Ephesians 4:30-32—”And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
He began to write letters to people he had offended. He apologized to his children, and made things right with his wife. He and his wife began to communicate, the children began coming home, even his high blood pressure came down.
Such is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. You are-but you will be.
You are important to God the Father because of creation, to God the Son because of redemption, and to God the Holy Spirit because of sanctification. In light of all this, what should we do? Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.”
In view of God’s mercy—because he created you in his image; because you cost him the blood of his Son; because his Holy Spirit can powerfully transform you—offer yourself to God.
I once heard a Christian youth leader tell of a conference in which at a closing meeting they were gathered around a fireplace. They were throwing little sticks into the fire as a kind of symbol of what they were committing to the Lord. Then one fellow said, “I’m giving my cigarettes to the Lord,” and he tossed in a package of cigarettes. The youth leader quickly got a stick and pulled out the package before it burned.
Handing it back to the fellow, he said, “God doesn’t want or need your cigarettes. God wants you.”
God wants us to humbly surrender ourselves. I like the hymn “Channels Only.” We are not reservoirs, but channels. We are not power plants, but transmission lines. God has the power, God is the reservoir, and we should surrender ourselves to him so he can work through us.
In the exchange of marriage vows the woman does not turn to the man and say, “I give you my cooking ability.” Nor does he say to her, “I give you my bank account.” (For one thing, they may not have either.) No, in a marriage ceremony they vow, “I give you myself.” That’s what Romans 12:1 is about. It means saying to God, “I give you me.”
God’s best has been given to you. Is your best his? Your best begins with committing yourself totally to him. Then God will have your feet to take you where he wants you to go. He’ll have your ears to listen to those who need listening to. He’ll have your mouth to speak what he wants spoken. He’ll also have your time, your career, your money.
Have you ever said a once-for-all yes to the Lord, like the yes one says in a marriage ceremony? Not only that, but as a living sacrifice are you following the big yes with lots of small ones? I’m convinced this continual surrender is the key to being used by God. That’s what it means to take up your cross daily—a once-for-all commitment to follow Jesus Christ as his disciple, followed by a lot of little commitments and adjustments and surrenders along the way.
In giving yourself, you’re turning over to God the most valuable thing you can give.