What Makes You Really Valuable
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They're just pieces of cardboard, but some of them are worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. We call them baseball cards. Our son got interested in them when he was a little guy, and pretty soon they became a pretty serious investment for him. He knew how to, well as they say on Wall Street, buy low and sell high. Because he watched up-and-coming players, he owned the rookie cards of some players who later became major stars, and there aren't many of those rookie cards out there. Lest we trivialize the baseball card business, realize that it helped pay a significant part of our son's way through college. I remember when he told me as a teenager, "Dad, I know my room is a mess, but there's one thing I take care of - my baseball cards." His valuable ones were neatly organized in plastic folders in carefully guarded notebooks. And the reason most of those cards were high value was very simple. They were rare!
If you're trying to do what's right in an environment where most everyone else is doing what's wrong, you get to feeling kind of lonely sometimes, don't you? And even weird? In fact, the people you work with, or play with, or go to school with may basically tell you that you're weird because you don't do the things they do. And, after a while, that can start to wear on you and even wear down your resistance. You get tired of being "weird."
But if you're basically standing alone, doing the right thing, you're not weird - you're rare. Ask any collector, whether it's baseball cards, antiques, stamps, coins what makes an item valuable is that they're aren't many of them. The less there are like them, the more valuable they become. If you're taking your stand, doing things God's way, that's you. Yes, there may not be many people living by the standards you are. But that doesn't make you weird; it makes you valuable because there aren't many like you!
In His final hours before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father on behalf of all those who believed in Him at that time and all those who would believe in Him through the years. So, when you listen to a portion of that prayer in our word for today from the Word of God, remember Jesus is praying in advance for you. John 17, beginning with verse 15, says of His followers, "My prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world."
"Sanctify them," Jesus prayed. That means "set them aside for special purposes. Keep them special, reserved for God's purposes." Jesus wanted to plant you right in the middle of a dark world to be light there. Which means that, just like Him, you're going to take some abuse, some name-calling, and some rejection for your allegiance to Him. But not because there's something wrong with you. There's something very right with you!
The less virgins there are, the more valuable a virgin becomes. The less honest men and women there are, the more valuable an honest person becomes. The less people there are who say no to what's dirty, what's destructive, what's negative, the more your worth increases. Maybe you've been tempted to cave in. You've got combat fatigue; there's heavy pressure. Don't do it. Not only is Jesus counting on you, but the very people who are pressuring you, desperately need for you to stand firm, or their only light goes out.
Because you're Jesus' personal representative in a dark place, in many ways you aren't like everybody else. But you keep loving them unconditionally. You make them feel important, and doing the right thing without condemning them. You keep doing all of that, and you're going to be, whether they admit it or not, one of the most important people in their life. Because people like you are rare and very, very valuable.