We think of value in concrete terms. We measure it with numbers, or money, or other hard metrics. But in reality, value is a relative concept. It’s relativity can be observed across a variety of situations. For instance, what is valuable to one person, may not be valuable to another. A person who has been without water for three days while stranded on a desert island will leave a backpack of gold unguarded if he thinks he can make it to the only rumored freshwater spring on the island. His life might depend on it, and the value of the gold diminishes in gradations relative to his thirst. An intelligent homeless man in a metropolis will guard a bag of gold with his life, and won’t trade it for a glass of water. The water’s abundance in the city diminishes its value relative to the bag of gold and the potential it can offer the homeless man. Another man will trade his bag of gold in a week’s time for a hit, a rock, or a needle and some heroine.
Value is also relative to the abundance of an item. A thousand dollars has little value to a billionaire who donates it. But $80 donated by a man who only has $100 to his name is of very great value (Luke 21:1-4). Even greater is the value to him of the thing for which he was willing to give such a large portion of all he had. Value is also relative to our perception of what we possess. If we don’t understand the worth of what we own, we will often trade it for something of lesser value, as was the case of Esau giving up his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34).
In a story of value, Jesus was once invited into the house of a pharisee to eat with him (Luke 7:36-50). Pharisees were considered upper crust, proper, and above the commoner. A common sinful woman invites herself into his house when she learns that Jesus is there. She washes the feet of Jesus with her tears and hair, then anoints them with an ointment that she probably cannot afford to lose. Her behavior would have been seen as outrageous. But she saw the value in Jesus and invited herself in to be frowned upon in order to gain the greater worth of being next to him. Ironically, the religious pharisee did not see the value of Jesus, and doubted his worth as a prophet (Luke 7:39). He had misevaluated the greatest of all prophets.
Have you correctly evaluated the worth of Jesus? Are you inviting yourself to go where he is, and to worship him in outrageous ways? Or have you misevaluated Jesus? In so doing, are you missing out on what he has invited you to do? What is the value of Jesus to you? What is his value relative to the things in your life?