Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Value or the Cost?

This is probably not the best of times to invest in the Euro.  Our 'friends in need' in Ireland are discovering that there is a big difference between knowing the cost of something and understanding its value.  They went headlong into the 'Green Tiger' economy, splashing and splurging their newly minted wealth, whilst failing to realise that the value of their shiny new 21st Century goods was pretty low whilst their cost would turn out to be immense - more in fact than they were able to pay.  And who will be the next?  No doubt other major Western economies are shivering in their designer shoes just now.

But am I guilty of making the same mistake?  Do I know the difference between value and cost?  I think not, and here's why.  The things that I really want in life, and value as 'success', do not have the same price tag on them in God's economy as in mine. For instance, I value being well thought of, and approved by the people who know me.  The Bible tells me that all I do ought to be done for the acclaim of an audience of One.  His 'well done good and faithful servant' should excite me much more than the idea of being a Christian celebrity or a famous preacher and conference speaker. But does it?  (Don't think I am going to tell you!! Aw - shame!)

And then there is that frightening verse in James chapter 1. 'Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.'  Now that is a problem.  I don't value pain, struggle, suffering and trials.  No way.  Those things bear a very meagre price tag in my store.  But hey - God says I am to 'count it all joy' (AV) when such things come my way!  Charles Spurgeon said of these verses, 'James teaches us in our struggles how to count.  He sets before us a different kind of measure from that which carnal reason would use: the shekel of the sanctuary was very different from the shekel in common commerce, and so is the counting of faith far other than that of human judgement. Write down the testing process as pure gain and instead of being sorry about it, count it all joy.'

So what does God value in me?  What precious commodity is He trying to bring to the surface?  One thing I do know, is that the very process itself cost Jesus everything.  To Him, the price of my redemption was worth paying because He uses heaven's unique value system.  And that is not measured in Euros or in pounds or in dollars, but in love, sacrifice, perseverance, faith and tears.  Are you willing to pay that price tag?  Am I?