A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a £20 note. In the room of two hundred, he asked, ‘Who would like this £20 note?’ Hands started going up. He said, ‘I am going to give this £20 to one of you but first, let me do this.’ He proceeded to crumple the £20 note up. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ Still the hands were up in the air. ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. ‘Now who still wants it?’ Still the hands went into the air.
He went on to say, ‘you have all learned a valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth £20.’
In your life, you may have felt dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt. It is easy to feel completely worthless. Our present circumstances in lockdown can reinforce such feelings. The sense of isolation for many, the loss of work for others. It may be that you are naturally negative about yourself anyway and if something goes wrong you point the finger back at yourself. Circumstances and events appear to reinforce that view of yourself. But - remember the £20 note? However it was treated, its value didn’t change. Neither does your value.
Every human being has value. When you hold that tiny baby in your arms you know he or she has the same value as somebody who has gone on and done great things in life. We all have a God-given, intrinsic value.
I’m sure in this lockdown some have taken the opportunity to have a good clear out of any unwanted clutter. Imagine you find in your loft an old painting that has been passed down through the generations. It is covered in mildew, cobwebs and dust. You leave it out in the back garden, exposed to the weather, waiting for the opportunity to throw it into the skip. A neighbour is out for a stroll with his dog and he happens to know a bit about art. He spots the picture, and his curiosity is aroused. He knocks on your door and asks if he can take a closer look. Imagine your surprise when he announces that this could be an extremely valuable painting by a famous artist - in fact you could be looking at millions of pounds! Your attitude to that painting would change in an instant. It certainly wouldn’t stay out in the garden leaning against a wall! You would send it off to get it cleaned up and valued.
The Bible tells us that we are God’s workmanship. We have incredible value, but it goes wrong when we fail to recognise our value and make decisions based on how worthless we feel. Like that valuable work of art, we need cleaning up. It always amazes me to see the intricate, painstaking care that the experts take when they restore a work of art. God wants to work in our lives to give us a fresh start, to change our thinking, to restore our relationship with him. He valued us enough to send His Son to reconcile us to himself. If we accept God’s valuation of us, commit ourselves to him for his work of restoration, we can go into this New Year, whatever it holds, with confidence and hope.