Monday, September 5, 2011

A LIFE OF VALUE

"And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the Lord, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.”"

1 Samuel 26:24


A Life of VALUE

Is there anything worse than feeling worthless?  Have you ever felt as though your life was of no real value to anyone?  Undoubtedly this is one of the most uncomfortable and devastating emotions we can experience.  Maybe you have never struggled with this.  Most, however, have known to some degree the pain, the tears and the crushing effect this feeling of worthlessness can produce.  Industries aimed at alleviating these thoughts are both profuse and profitable.  Everywhere we turn we find advertisements from chemistry to counseling which promise to restore a person’s sense of value and well-being.  These have a place.  I do not wish to undermine the sincere efforts or to minimize the serious suffering endured by those who benefit from them. 


The verse at the top of this page got me thinking about what makes a life truly valuable.  The words are those of David who had been fleeing for his life from King Saul.  David had the chance to kill his enemy, but he would not do so.  And when David had retreated to a safe distance he cried out these words to Saul: “...as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the Lord, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.”  What David had done for Saul, in sparing him, he now desires the Lord to do for David.  David valued Saul’s life.  He calls upon the Lord to value his life.


From these words I draw this conclusion:  there is such a thing as a life that is valuable to God.  We find this taught elsewhere.  The Lord, speaking of Israel, says “you shall be a special treasure (i.e. valuable) to Me above all people (Exodus 19:5).”  Scripture speaks of a ‘precious’ life.  Since you were precious in My sight” said the Lord through Isaiah the prophet.  Jeremiah speaks regretfully of a people who were once “valuable as fine gold (Lamentations 4:2).” 


All of this, I suppose, raises the most important question in the world:  Is my life valuable to God? 


This verse from 1 Samuel 26 sheds some light on the subject.  In this text I find some things that help me to understand what we might call: The Valuable Life.


I.       First, the text implies that there is a difference between a life valued by men and a life valued by God.  Notice David’s words.  He did not say:  Saul, I valued your life.  Now I want YOU to value my life.”   Rather, he said (as it were): “Saul, I valued your life.  Now I want the LORD to value my life.”  There is a difference.  It is one thing to have a life valued by men.  It is another thing to have a life valued by God.  We may be valued by men for many different reasons.  Sometimes people value us simply because we are useful to them.  Sometimes people value us because we provide them with security or pleasure.  But God never values a man because He needs him.  We cannot be “useful” to God in the same way we might be useful to our employer.  Our value in God’s eyes is not based upon what we can do for God, but rather on what God is doing in us.  Maybe we could put it this way:  We become more valuable to God when God becomes more visible in us.  There is, therefore, a vast difference between being “valuable” to men and being “valuable” to God. 

              

II.      Secondly, these words express to me this:  :  It is better to have a life valued by God than a life merely valued by men.  David valued Saul’s life and spared it.  But in return David looks for something more.  David asks for a life that is valued by the Lord: “so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the LORD.”  When is the last time you or I prayed that prayer?  “Lord, more than anything else, grant me to live a life valued by You.  Empty my world of those things that are worthless.  Purge from all my plans what is profitless.  Rid my soul of all that rubbish I too often relish.  Lord, make me useful and valuable to You, regardless of what people may say.  Father, what good is my life if it only charms the eyes of men but does not delight the eyes of my God?”

            I write this as an encouragement to those who, in striving to be worth something to God, have felt they are worth nothing to this world.  Paul knew this feeling.  He writes to the Corinthians “we have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (I Cor. 4:13).”  Paul knew what it was like to feel “worthless” in the eyes of the world.  But for him, being valuable to God was worth it.  Christ Himself was rejected as worthless by the world.  Peter writes of Christ: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious (1 Peter 2:4).”  Christian – you may feel at times utterly useless to the world – but you are “valued much in the eyes of the Lord.”



III.       Finally, I think this verse tells us, in part, how to live a life that is valuable to God.  Do you want to live such a life?  Are you ready, if necessary, to make changes to the way you have lived so far?  Are we ready to re-evaluate all of our priorities and goals so that right now it might be said of us:  This life “is valued much in the eyes of the Lord?”


The verse concludes with these words, and I think they give some helpful direction:  and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.”


A.        A life valued by God may be a difficult life to live.  David speaks of “tribulation.”  This means trouble.  Maybe that isn’t what you wanted to hear.  But for those trapped in troublesome trials you need to know that a life can be VERY valuable to God that is loaded with troubles on earth.  Let me say that again.  A life can be VERY valuable to God that is loaded with troubles on earth.  David’s was.  And that means you don’t need to wait for your troubles to go away before you become valuable to God. 


B.        A life valued by God looks steadily at the Lord for deliverance and help.  David said “let Him deliver me.”  Note:  God doesn’t value our life by OUR strength, but by our dependence upon HIS strength.  That is the truly valuable life.  More than anything, that means first and foremost looking to Jesus Christ to deliver you from your sin.  Let Him deliver me!  Yes…yes…dear reader…let Him deliver you.  No life is truly “valuable” to God that does not first look to Christ for deliverance.  And then, having done so, a valuable life looks steadily and faithfully to Him for help.  Are we ready to simply wait upon God in the midst of our problems?  Too often our response is anger with God for our troubles, rather than humble submission to His purposes.  A life valuable to God says “not my will but Thine be done.”  What trial is in my life today, for which I need to trust God more for deliverance?  The key to a truly valuable life is not worldly success but submission to God.  When He wants, and not before then, let “Him deliver me.”  That is what a Christian should say when confronted with trials and temptations:  Let Him deliver me.  When confronted with sorrow and loss:  Let Him deliver me.  When overwhelmed by temptations and defeat:  Let Him deliver me.  Christian, is that your cry and mine?  Oh the value of that cry in the ears of the Lord!  Full surrender and submission to the Lord in all things…that is a life “valued much in the eyes of the Lord.” 


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