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You Are Worth Much! / Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 10:5a, 21-33

Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.

The other day I was visiting a man about forty-five years old in the hospital. He was not a member of our church, but I was informed that he had a spiritual problem and that he might appreciate visiting with a minister.

He did have a spiritual problem, one that we all can have at times. You see, the man had been in an automobile accident a few days ago. He was “out with the boys” one night. Something he rarely did. He was feeling pretty good behind the wheel and eventually rammed into a tree while turning down the street toward home.

The accident left him with a neck and back injury, which at this moment makes his ability to work in the future somewhat of a question mark. His spiritual problem was one of self-worth and it attacked his mind in two ways. How could someone be worth very much when he gets damaged through such a foolish accident? And how can a forty-five-year-old man be worth much to himself, to his family, or God when he might possibly be unable to fulfill his role as breadwinner anymore?

The whole incident caused me to think about how important it is to feel that you’re worth something. There are very few burdens more difficult to bear than the feeling that you’re not worth very much. In this situation and in many more, God has some good news for us. Maybe you’ve come today with no particular excitement in your heart. Maybe all this week you’ve pretty well taken yourself for granted or felt that others were. Maybe you feel especially frustrated about messing things up this past week. Perhaps the awareness of your own sins and spiritual failure is pressing on your heart this morning.

If any of this is the case, then God has a cheering word for you and me. To me, God says, you are worth very much! That’s it! No outstanding achievements needed. This morning our gracious and loving God lays good news on us, news that gives us a fresh start, news He wants us to share with others, news that can make us stand tall and live without fear. Let us speak about this glorious theme together: God says, “YOU ARE WORTH MUCH!”

This is definitely something to cheer about, especially when most of us consider our past performance. Have you ever had one of those days when it would have been better to stay home in bed? Everything goes wrong. In fact, because of you some things may have actually gone backwards. Or maybe you’ve had days when sin seemed to get the best of you. There wasn’t a thing you could say that wasn’t hard or cruel. Sometimes it seems that the devil takes over and we rush headlong into pet sins, or allow emotions of hatred, or disgust to rule us. I say, in view of our own past performance, it may be hard to believe that God values us highly.

We may also doubt our worth to God in view of our small, individual position in a vast, teeming universe. This is an on-going spiritual problem for many. How can I be worth much to God, how can He know me and place a worth on me when I consider my passing place on this earth? The writer of Psalm 8 asked a question something like that, when I look at the heavens and everything you made, O God, what is man that You keep him in mind; who are we mortals that You should pay us a special visit?

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do! God has so many children! How is it that I have a special value for Him?

But this is the cheering word of Jesus today. Perhaps it is surprising, but that’s why it’s news. We’re worth much to our God. This word is told clearly and dearly to us in the cross and rising of Jesus Christ, God’s son and our Savior. For you see, the eyes of Jesus Christ do not meaninglessly gaze on the world in general. His eyes focus and zero in upon you. You are worth very much to him. He has not only numbered the hairs of your head. He once had His own hair stained with blood from the crown of thorns. No greater love has anyone shown for you, for Christ laid down His life for His friends, and you are His friend. You have been bought with a price.

In the suffering of Christ God has demonstrated that He places a very great value on you. You matter very much to Him. Your sins and past performance may suggest otherwise. Your small place in the world and this universe may stir up doubts. But today we hear this unique and cheering word that in Jesus Christ you are worth much to God.

This, now, is the good word which we as Christians need to tell each other and all others. One thing is sure, the world will not tell you what you’re really worth. In fact most of the time the world suggests that we’re worth very little. We ask about someone, how much is he worth?, and all we want to know is how much money stands behind a name. The world wants to know how young you are. How much do you match the prancing glamorous images that the world creates for you to emulate in TV commercials and beauty pageants? If you don’t come near those standards, you’re not worth very much! No, the world won’t tell you as a Christian what your true value is.

So, God can use you and me to tell each other what we’re really worth. Let’s get used to the idea, then, of telling one another that we’re worth very much to each other and God. Sad to say the encouraging word is not always to be found in the Christian community of believers. Criticism and judging among fellow church members is not our calling. We are here to build up one another and to emphasize our value and worth to each other and God, not our disgust with one another.

Many persons, every honest Christian really struggle with their own sins and spiritual failure, sometimes in an intense way. It’s wonderful to hear the cheering word from a fellow believer in that context! To hear someone actually tell us that we are worth something, that Christ forgives us, that we can start again with our heads held high.

In our Christian community we need to bring this, uplifting message to senior folks and the elderly especially. In making visits with the older folks of the church I  often hear expressions like this; every day, I ask God to take me. I’m not doing much good here anymore. The question is really being pressed, What am I worth to God or anyone? Today we can be sure that if God keeps us here it’s because He has some things for us to do. His estimate of our usefulness may be different from ours. So, we need to be speaking and sharing this message among the elderly, that they are worth much to us and even more to God.

You are worth very much to us and to God. I hope parents are living this kind of a message in your homes, so that it goes down deep in the minds and hearts of your children. Christian parents cheer their children with the reality that they are valued, loved and that they have resources within them that can make them great souls and give them meaning in life.

Why do we have an increase in crime and delinquency among young people? Why the frittering away of life and time and opportunities among many youths today? Some would say it is because we don’t have enough laws or rules or because they aren’t stringent enough anymore. But a large part of the reason, I fear, is that many parents tell their kids in effect that they’re not worth much and most likely won’t amount to much. And their children believe that and follow through!

Here in our Church, we pledge that this will be the aim and the message of Christian education to bring out the best in your children, to have them discover the gifts that God has given them, to proclaim to them the everlasting love with which God has loved them in Christ.

Oh, what a cheering message! What a message to cast out fear. What a message to give us courage for this new week. What a message to send us off today with joy in our hearts. Jesus says it here, Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.