Our lives matter. The lives of those around us matter. We all know this intuitively. But do we know why lives matter beyond that intuitive feeling? And do we understand just how valuable our lives really are? I think that most people don’t know. And I get the feeling that they don’t care, either. But knowing why your life is valuable will do you good. Here are six reasons that life is valuable.
First, we were created in God’s image. In the garden, God made Adam and Eve. The Bible says that God decided to “make man in [His] image, after [His] likeness.” (Gen 1:26) That statement, “in His image”, says so much about our creative, social, rational, and governing capacities. But the implication of the statement “in His image” that I want to focus on is that our lives have a very high inherent value. The value is so high that later in the book of Genesis, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Gen 9:6) God created man in His image and because of that, our lives have such value that if one of those lives are killed, God considers it a great offense.
There is Someone who is not a likeness of God as we are, but who is His exact image, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Heb 1:3) That Someone is Jesus. And because He is the exact representation of God (He is God), and because He chose to live among us, our lives have an even greater value. His coming, living, dying, and resurrection were all for the purpose of restoring the broken image that we bear and making us whole again. That fact, that hope, shows how valuable we are.
Second, we were created with a purpose. I’ll quote a few verses and you can see a recurring thought in Scripture.
God said, “…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:6-7)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1Co 10:31)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col 1:16)
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psa 57:2)
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psa 138:8)
We all were created by God, for God, with a purpose. And that purpose was His glory. Having that purpose stamped on our very being gives us inherent value.
The thought of having a purpose becomes even weightier when we consider something beyond a general “purpose,” or “calling.” Our lives have a specific purpose and we are moving at a specific trajectory. We who know Jesus and are known by Him will certainly, unquestionably “be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rom 8:29) This is the ultimate purpose of our lives and it goes beyond (but is connected with) our vocation, who we will marry, where we will live, etc. Our purpose, our destiny, is that we will one day be made like Jesus. Do you feel the weight that adds to our value?
Third, our lives are connected to others. John Donne wrote a poem that expresses this beautifully. I’ll include a couple of lines.
“No man is an island, Entire of itself”
“Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind,”
No man lives completely isolated from others. We are all connected to one another such that if one person hurts or dies, it affects us all.
The Bible has a slightly different way of expressing it, but the idea is very similar.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1Co 12:12)
This primarily speaks of a believer’s unity with other believers, but I believe that it implies our unity with all men, although that universal unity is much weaker.
Because we are united to all men, our lives have significance and value. If one death negatively affects all men, then there is value in one life.
The unity of all men is a beautiful thing. But the unity that believers share is more intimately connected and is even more beautiful. And more beautiful still is the unity that all believers have with Jesus.
Jesus said, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (Joh 17:23) The value of our lives is beyond our capacity to understand if Jesus is making us one with Himself.
Fourth, God does not rejoice in death. Here is a quote from Ezekiel:
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Eze 33:11)
We can hear the fervency in this verse. God does not take sadistic pleasure in even the wicked dying. He points out to Israel that there is an alternative to death. His question “why will you die?” seems to be asking why they are bent on dying.
If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, we can infer that He does take pleasure in the life of all. And if He takes pleasure in our lives, then our lives are valuable.
It is good to point out that God is not reveling in the pain, suffering, and death of anyone. It is also good to point out that because of God’s attitude toward life, our lives have value. But we can go beyond that. It is His purpose to one day completely destroy death. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1Co 15:25-26) If He purposes to do it, it will be done without fail. If His love and valuing of life is so great that He will one day destroy death, we can enjoy a glimpse of that value here and now.
Fifth, God is mindful of man. Out of the vast universe, out of everything that is, God is aware of and concerned about human kind. The thought is staggering. I don’t think it can be said better than this:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psa 8:3-5)
If there is a nearly unmeasurable universe to consume God’s thoughts and He is not only aware of us, but His attention is fixed on us, that should tell us something. It should tell us that our lives are of value to Him. Out of all else of creation, our lives are valuable and precious to Him.
Even those who do not love Jesus can look into the night sky and have an overwhelming feeling of the insignificance of man and imagine that they are pleased with the thought of the big-ness of God. But to have a true appreciation for the bigness of God and His thoughts toward us, something has to be happening inside of us. We must know the “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Php 2:13) And this only happens in Christ. If God is working in us for His good pleasure, doesn’t that escalate how valuable our lives are?
Sixth, God is the giver of life. In the beginning, God breathed life into man. And He continues to give us breath for as long as we live. The fact that He originated and daily maintains life speaks to us that He valued and continues to value life.
We can all appreciate the gift of life. But there is an aspect of living that not all experience. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1Jn 5:11) We may have not just life, but eternal life. Life is so precious that He has made a manifestation of it that will endure forever at such a quality that we can’t understand. If life one day will never cease and be of incomprehensible glory, the n life now has value.
Life matters. All lives matter. And they matter to a degree that we don’t consider well every day. Don’t waste your life. And don’t be content to see those around you waste theirs. Your ultimate purpose, everyone’s ultimate purpose, is to live the life that you have been given to the glory of God. Are you doing that?