Passing on What We Value
What is value, and what does it mean? The dictionary has many definitions for the word value. Here are a few:
As you read these definitions, there is a common thread. They typically point toward money or things. When someone thinks about the value of something, they typically think about how much it is worth in a monetary sense.
We teach this to our kids as they learn the meaning of the word value. How much is this worth? Is this valuable? Who decides its value? We teach this to them by our words and by our actions, which is how they learn most things.
We all like nice things, myself included. We find satisfaction in having something that is valuable or seems worthy. We feel happy and important when others think we have value or own something valuable. Perhaps it’s a collection of something: a house, a new car, the clothes we wear, our job, the people we know, etc.
I propose we work hard to teach our kids what is really valuable. What does God count as valuable and why? Let’s consider some men and women in the Bible and what they found valuable.
Consider Abraham in the Old Testament. Abraham was definitely someone who valued obedience and faithfulness to God. In Genesis 12, we see where God told Abraham to go. Out of obedience, the Scripture tells us that “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him” (Genesis 12:4 ESV). He would never see the blessing that God was telling him about, but he obeyed. We see this same obedience In Genesis 22 when God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. Once again Abraham obeyed God and was faithful.
Ruth in the Bible valued loving others. She showed selfless and loyal love to her mother-in-law as she chose to stay with her. “Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you’” (Ruth 1:16-17). Throughout the book of Ruth we see compassion, honesty, honor, kindness, and respect displayed and valued in her life.
Let’s jump to the New Testament and think about the life of Paul. The first thing that comes to my mind to value in the life of Paul is the transformation in his life because of the gospel. Paul was a wretched man before he came to faith in Christ. But God, through the blood of Jesus, changed him. The passionate letters Paul wrote to churches also display the value of teaching and telling others about Christ. Paul went to great lengths to make sure others understood what it meant to follow Jesus.
There are so many other examples in Scripture that teach us about what it is we should value. As you think about those, let’s consider some things we might want to pass down to the next generation. How are we showing them what they should value?
Here are my top picks of things I long for the next generation to value:
I could add many more things to the list such as forgiveness, loving others, humility, faith, grace, kindness, honesty, and compassion. All these are fully displayed in the life of Christ.
Let’s help the next generation know what it means to value eternal things—the things that matter most. Let’s help them to know the truth found in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Our children are the next generation of the church—the next pastors, doctors, neighbors, moms, dads, police officers, teachers, business owners, and more. But most importantly, they are the next generation of disciples of Jesus Christ that will display his love to those around them. Let’s help them to value what matters for eternity. Let’s be prayerful for ourselves and one another as we strive to raise them up to know and follow God to the fullest.