What are you worth? Has that statement ever bothered you? It bothers many people. Worth for many people is attributed through what we earn when we have performed certain actions and gives the perception that we are worth something. Sometimes the people you are expected to associate with can define what people say about your worth. It can be your job performance. It can be how much money you have. It can even be the stereotypes people assume about you. I want to show you that God has a different standard when He sees your worth. It’s very surprising. The way you have always assessed your worth is going to be questioned and you are going to find that God has a vision for you that far exceeds what the everyone else might be saying about you and to you.
To set the pace of our conversation, we have to work with a definition of worth. The one we will work with today is that worth is the level at which someone or something is valued or rated. Read Mark 2:13-17 before going forward.
You are worth saving
The first thing we should talk about is that you are worth saving. In much of Christian culture, it is taught that no one is worthy of salvation. In a sense that is true. The Bible teaches in Genesis 3 that we rebelled against God, so one can say that we have no claim to a good relationship with God. The passage we just read, however, shows us that Jesus must think that humanity is worth saving. He even called Levi, a tax collector, to be one of His followers. Just in case you didn’t know, tax collectors were despised even more than they are here. Sounds impossible, but its true. What made people hate them so much is that they were stealing money on top of the taxes owed. To make matters worse, they worked for the Roman government, whom the Jews thought of as evil people who stole Israel from them.
This is what Levi was to many people: a thief and a traitor. Jesus comes by, sees this outcast who had probably been cursed at all day and says, “Follow me.” Jesus was a well known Jewish leader by this point. It was improper of Him to call this kind of person to be a follower. Yet not only did he call Levi, but we also see that many so-called sinners followed Him. (Mark 2:15) Jews taught that God was angry at these people, yet God incarnate was showing that He loved them.
Many people have bought into the idea that there is an angry God who has no interest in getting you to join Him. They think that God is the great being in the sky waiting to strike people with bolts of lightning and it’s up to us to join Him or get hurt. Yet, we see in Jesus a God who has a party with people, teaching them to follow His way and take part in a better life. When the real God sees His creation, He still sees that they are good and beautiful creatures and wants to celebrate them (Gen. 1:27-31a). He wants to save them and wants to journey with them back to what He made them to be. No matter how bad you think you are, God has a plan for you that will take you out of the stereotypes that people have wrapped around you and He will make you free in the salvation He has offered you.
You are worth healing
You are also worth healing. We can’t have a conversation about salvation without having a conversation about healing. They are closely related. I’m not just talking about physical healing, though that is very possible and will ultimately be reality for everyone one day. God includes emotional and spiritual healing, which are important to God. Some of us have experienced things that have broken us. People may have hurt us verbally, physically, and psychologically. Whatever your case, you experienced a powerful moment where wounds were created inside of you. These are wounds that no one sees. Wounds that have come to define your own views about your worth. Levi was not the only one in this crowd who had received these types of wounds. Many people who were labeled as outcast were with Jesus and Levi while the house party was going on. How many of those people do you think were beaten up inside by family members and former friends who saw what they had done? Many things are said to people with bad reputations. Most of them are meant to shame. Shame is a deadly tool and will always leave scars that can last a lifetime. But see what Jesus says in Mark 2:16-17. The God of heaven is the God who wants to heal those wounds. God never made someone a sinner. As far as he is concerned, there is potential in each and every human to be whole and to live a life that brings worth to people. This God who some teach is obsessed with striking down is actually the Great Physician who binds wounds and leads to restoration. He removes the things we cover our own wounds with to bring healing. He takes off the masks of shame. He brings to light our true beauty and worth.
As a side note, there are some people who would still rather show us a God who is always angry and out to catch us in our sins in light of this verse. They would rather trap you and bring you to a god of guilt, shame, and bondage. If this sounds wrong to you, or if this is a reason you left the Church, I thank God you are here. You were not leaving God, your were leaving a person’s skewed opinions about God that were not based on Jesus. God is so much better than that. He wants to set you free and give you worth for a purpose.
You are worth sending
That purpose is the next point. You are worth sending. God has made you worth sending to carry His message to the World. There are many people who after experiencing salvation and healing feel as if they are not worthy of being sent into this world. We can be tempted to carry the shame that keeps us from our true worth in our faith. Levi, who was also know as Matthew, was defined by others as a shameful human being. He was also one of the twelve disciples. The twelve disciples were key to Jesus’ ministry on earth and they were also some of the most crucial individuals in spreading the good news of Jesus around the world. Most of them were young men who had either been turned away by other leaders or never even considered themselves worth being disciples. Regardless of any of the history that Jesus followers carried with them, they carried His message into the world.
If you are struggling with your old life not letting you live the life God made you for, remember that God loved you so much that He proactively offered you salvation and healing. Our worth does not come from anything we did, but from His seeking us out and offering this great gift to us, whether we accept it or not. Our calling as a result of His love towards us is to spread this love to others. It does not matter what our past says about us. God’s love overrides any effect sin has on us. Even when we were deciding to be His enemies, He still loved us as friends. There are still many people in this world, who are part of a system that opposes God’s love. They are trapped by people telling them they are worth nothing. God wants us to deliver His message of liberation to them. Our story will make it that much stronger. We are an example of God’s love. We are an example of His giving us worth before we every tried to seek worth.
You were not made to earn your worth. You were made to celebrate and use the worth you were given. God is not perpetually angry with you. He wants to use you to spread His love to the world. And He believes you are worth everything. Failures and brokenness do not have to keep you from God’s purpose for you. You have worth.