For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
We are made in God’s image, not the other way around. We are made similarly to God. In fact, Psalm 82:6 reads, “I said, ‘You are “gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.’” This was such an important idea that Jesus reiterates the sentiment in John 10:34 when facing an angry crowd. “Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods?”
In the Psalm verse that idea was followed by, “But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” So, although we may have great value in God’s eyes, we are still not beyond the need for God’s help in living up to the value that is placed on us. Albert Einstein said, "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
Values are a set of beliefs, priorities, or views that we find most important in our lives and affect the way we act and make decisions. A person who values relationships over anything acts differently compared to a person who values money and material things more than relationships. We are wired to act and react based on our values.
What else does God value? We don’t know everything that has value to God, but the Bible does reveal some things. For instance, in Micah 5:8, we are told three things that are important to God: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
God values what is described as ‘the Church’. This refers to the people who believe in God, love God, and follow the principles of God. Today, that includes the 45,000 Christian denominations as well as the other organized, and some disorganized, religions. There are also millions of individuals who believe in God but choose not to be part of a church building. They are still part of “The Church.” Our Divine Father loves his children, all His children, even the ones who won’t believe in anything outside the world. The believers are the ones whom He can impact the easiest, so they can serve God most directly. All children have equal value, it’s just that some are more immediately useful than others.
God doesn’t value the church buildings; he values the souls inside those walls. He doesn’t value our clever engineering and technological advances; he values the hearts and minds in which those ideas germinate. He is not impressed with our athletic and artistic achievements outside of how those achievements aid, inspire, and serve His children. He places no value on our political structures or leadership skills or scientific discoveries apart from how this benefits His Church … all of us.
Jesus Christ came to earth to show us that what the world offers are just props, costumes, a stage, and a means through which we experience God’s gift of life and love. The world has no value to God except for how we can use it to demonstrate love, kindness, and forgiveness to each other and all of Life. In those terms, what God created was ‘good’. Jesus came to serve the Church, to die for the Church, and be resurrected for the Church. He came to save us from the world and our obsession with the physical plane.
While on this earth Christ demonstrated values that the entire Church, the vast global family of God’s children, can emulate. Generally, these values can be summarized in two thoughts: Love God and love each other.
But specifically, those values can be demonstrated in several ways. One is through generosity. This is the spiritual value of being kind and unselfish. Proverbs 22:9 says: “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” We often think of generosity in terms of money and time, but it can also be in how we share our talents, our real selves with others, share our openness, and willingness to accept, appreciate, and approve of others right where they are. We can be generous with tolerance.
God created all people and created them differently for reasons and purposes from a higher perspective than we can understand. Regardless of how we perceive, they are God's children; we are all part of one family, and it is God's will for us to show respect to everyone. 1 Peter 2:17 says: “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, revere God, honor the emperor.”
God values hope, another powerful principle that Jesus demonstrated through his life. Hope is a confident expectation and a firm assurance in God. From Proverbs 23:18: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Peace is another aspect valued by God. Although it has many meanings, it refers to rest, tranquility, the absence of chaos and fear, and is a gift from God. Romans 14:19 tells us: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
Some values are honored by the world, as well as God, but the world’s perception is … well, worldly. For instance, God values strength as it applies to fending off fear and the temptations of the world. The world looks at strength as the means to control others. We must embrace God’s strength so that we can protect ourselves and others from the ego’s desire for strength and control.
God values our focus and loyalty. When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus answered in Matthew 22:36-40: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The world distracts us and offers many temptations to take our eyes and hearts off God. Jesus singled out the love of wealth as one of those distractions, but the Bible mentions others as being equivalent to idolatry: greed, covetousness, arrogance, gluttony, and pride. Today, if we are not monitoring our thoughts, and fail to control our self-indulgence, our ego can create an excessive attention to material things such as houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, physical appearance, and entertainment. We can develop an unhealthy desire for wealth, power, fame, pleasure, or status. Sometimes normalcy can develop into an excessive devotion and fanaticism to the self, job, hobbies, country, ideologies, heroes, leaders, or even family. Common things can entrap us; things that are not necessarily bad in moderation can become modern-day idolatry if we let them become too important to us.
Another quality God values is being honest and holding to our integrity, rather than succumbing to the urge to deceive through lying, cheating, innuendo, or failing to tell the whole truth. We must strongly resist the temptation to engage in any form of theft, cheating, deception, innuendo, slander, or gossip. Rationalization is a form of self-deception by which we convince ourselves that inappropriate, hurtful, or duplicitous actions are justified to achieve a good result, but this is just another form of dishonesty.
Being humble is valued by God. God places no value on the power-seeker. Humility, or being humble, is being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. Acting with humility does not deny our own self-worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons. Humility is required to live in peace and harmony. It dissipates anger and heals old wounds. It allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God's children.
We all make mistakes. If we say or even think we are better than people we consider to be ‘sinners,’ we are guilty of being self-righteous. This is the opposite of being humble. It is not our right to look down on, criticize, judge, condemn, or try to control other people. Judgment is to be left to God. Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2, Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
We will all hurt someone, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing. We are not perfect, and we are not done on this journey of life. Each of us have lessons to learn, and therefore forgiveness is valued by God. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us: If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. When we refuse to forgive others, we harbor darkness within our hearts. God is merciful and forgives our shortcomings and missteps. In the same way, we are expected to be merciful and forgive other people who sin against us or do us harm.
From the moment we attune our hearts and minds to Christ, Spirit begins to clean us, change us, transform us, and express through us. The Apostle Paul described the fruits of Spirit, which reveal some of what God holds as valuable. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are all valued qualities that come forth naturally when our hearts are attuned to God.
The virtue of joy is a highly valued by God. Philippians 4:4 tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In Nehemiah 8:10 we read: Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The joy of the Lord is our strength.
In Philippians 4:8 we are instructed, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things.” Think on these things. Paul goes on to say, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As we can see, the values taught in the Bible are often the opposite of worldly values: kindness and respect for all people instead of power, disdain, and intolerance; humility instead of status; honesty and generosity instead of deception and greed; self-control instead of self-indulgence; forgiveness instead of revenge. God’s values promote peace and good will among people in accordance with the plans that He makes. What God values, we can value, and when we live those values, we are strengthened, made holy, and the peace of God envelopes us.
It is my prayer that what God holds valuable becomes our core values. God’s values are rooted in love – to love Him and love each other, all people. Yes, we must be in the world, but we don’t have to be of the world. We can embrace the values of Christ while walking this earth, and when we do, we are lifted to that place where Spirit dwells, beyond the clutches of the earth, to where our thoughts and the thoughts of God comingle, and we are blessed.