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September 13, 2017

What do you value? Think about that for a moment. It is a very important question. The question of what we value has far reaching implications for it determines how we will think, what we will say and then what we will do. What we value, what we place value in, is the bedrock on which we anchor our lives. It is the ground floor of the house we call our lives. What we place value in becomes such an important issue in our lives that our eternal destiny is affected by it. So what is valuable and how do you determine what you value?

There is an intrinsic value that is held by every living thing that does not change. There is also a perceived value which changes based on the fickle nature of man. The difference between the two is simple. Spirit will accept the intrinsic value of every living thing as is. ‘Self’, in its inherent pride however, says that it is the final determiner in what is valuable. The scale ‘self’ uses is completely arbitrary for it uses value to ‘self’ as its only plumb line. If something does not bring comfort to ‘self’, benefit to ‘self’ or do obeisance to ‘self’ then it is determined to be worthless or valueless. On the contrary if something brings great delight to ‘self’, like comfort, wealth, fame, lust, or pride, then it will be assigned great value.

Determination of value is the process we go through in the wilderness where God slowly helps us understand the intrinsic value of living things. Because we are raised to accept the perceived value ‘self’ uses it takes a great deal of effort to get past the perception to see reality. Once you begin to make the change in what you value your whole life will change accordingly.

Now how does one determine what is perceived value and what is intrinsic value? Since you have the ‘self’ nature, as all people do, you are completely biased. Your spirit and ‘self’ are at war within you. Spirit will tell you that all life has a certain intrinsic value while ‘self’ will tell you that value is only in what you can get. Take a look at the interaction between Boaz and the kinsmen redeemer when they were talking about Naomi’s land and Ruth. “And Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city and said, Sit down here. And they sat down. And he said to the kinsman, Naomi, who has returned from the country of Moab, has sold the parcel of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to let you hear of it, saying, Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then say so, that I may know; for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I am [next of kin] after you. And he said, I will redeem it. Then Boaz said, The day you buy the field of Naomi, you must buy also Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the dead man, to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest [by marrying a Moabitess] I endanger my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Ruth 4:2-6. Do you see how the kinsmen redeemer valued the land and not Ruth? Boaz, however, saw value in Ruth, which was the point of the whole transaction. ‘Self’ and spirit will look at the same situation and both will have a different view of it based on their opposing sense of value.

We have found that the walk of faith is a continual clash of values between what ‘self’ perceives as valuable and what spirit knows is valuable. In many ways the clash between the two helped strengthen our resolve to give up everything in this world that is not valuable to gain Jesus who is the most valuable. Each attack against our faith was an assault on the value we saw in Jesus. Every time we would be hurt but even more determined that the path we were on must be true. By showing His love and care during these trials Jesus continually strengthened His intrinsic value to us. In the same way these trials also completely undermined the perceived value of stuff that ‘self’ had promoted.

When we were at the Smith’s Motel in Pennfield we had such a clash of values with Wanda’s brother-in-law. By withholding funds that would have kept us inside during the winter this brother-in-law believed he could manipulate us into abandoning our faith walk and come back to family. What he perceived as valuable, however, was not valuable to us. Since our faith walk with God was far more valuable than our temporary comfort we easily said “No” to his manipulation. Many times in our wilderness we encountered the same type of challenge. People would think that we carried the same perceived value that they did, based on ‘self’ and not spirit. They thought that they could control us by withholding that which they considered valuable but since we saw little value in what they valued we easily walked away. In these instances, the intrinsic value of God always trumped the perceived value by ‘self’.

In the wilderness the faith we grow into is not the faith of the head. It is a living, breathing faith that is tried and tested. Once we accepted Jesus as the most valuable living being many attacks came to frustrate our faith in Him. Each time when satan tried to minimize the worth of Jesus in our eyes the more we pressed into Him. Doubt was a constant threat as satan tried many times to convince us that Jesus was not worth the suffering, hardship, misery and homelessness we endured. Each time, in ever strengthening faith, we said, “NO.” His value to us increased each time and now there is nothing we would not give up to have Him. Nothing. Value led to faith which led to greater value which led to greater faith.

Learning value based on spirit and not ‘self’ has been, and will be, an ongoing journey. We have found God continually tests us in this area as we walk with Him. His goal is not to break us but to test what we value. By applying pressure to us and testing what we really believe and value He will expose what comes from ‘self’ and strengthen what is found in spirit. When we let ‘self’ determine what is valuable we will find that God will remove those things ‘self’ values one by one to show us how worthless they really are. When we let spirit accept what is valuable, Jesus, His truth and His creation, then He will confirm and strengthen our resolve to hold on to Him.

Paul summarized it best in Philippians 1:9-10, “And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble].” Real value is Jesus. Once you accept that, truly and wholeheartedly, you will begin to understand why we gave up all to follow Him.

What or, better yet, whom do you value? Think hard about that. Your future depends on it.