Where Your Values Are
Where Your Values Are
If you want to know what you really value—for we can trick ourselves in this matter—then look at your fears.
What you fear will tell you what you value, and how much you fear will tell you how much you value it.
Solomon was wise enough to know this fact, and when two women came to him each claiming to be the mother of a living child, and not the mother of the one that had died, Solomon appealed to their fears to find their values, to find who was telling the truth.
Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” (1 Kings 3:23-26, ESV; emphasis mine)
The woman who feared the death of the child proved, by that fear, that she cherished the child. She valued the little one so much that she would rather the other woman raise the babe than that the babe should die.
What do you fear? Answer that honestly, and you will know what you value. The question can help you dig beneath what you think you value, to find what you really do.
What causes your heart rate to rise, and what prevents you from sleeping at night? Those are your fears. Now you only need ask what your fears are focused on—what is it that you are afraid to lose? That is what you value.
Maybe you are afraid of a meeting you have tomorrow, because you think the person with whom you are meeting does not like you and may say so! You fear the loss of honor—so you love honor. Or, you fear to lose the comfort of earthly peace. So you value comfort.
It is not wrong to value honor, and it is not wrong to like comfort. I suppose we all do. Our problems appear not so much when we ask what we value, but when we ask how much we value them.
You are permitted to dislike that meeting—but God does not allow you to dislike it so much that you refuse to go, if it is your duty to go.
You should enjoy your good health if you have it; but if you do not, or if it threatens to leave you, God does not allow you to despair. That happens when you value good health too much.
When you committed yourself to Christ, you handed over to him the reins of all your emotions, to speed them up or slow them down as he saw fit. You are not at liberty to feel any way you would like. You have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). Now your values must and will change to be like his values; and therefore, in time, your fears or lack of fears will reflect the change.
“If anyone would come after me,” Jesus told you at the start of your journey, “let him deny himself” (Luke 9:23). You may want to react with anxiety or rage when your comforts, pleasures, honors, and securities are threatened.
But you cannot. You must deny those feelings.
You may be tempted to fear when you think of the future ahead of you—what if injustices are not reformed, or what if the social order collapses? What if I lose honor, or never gain it, because of the changing tides of society’s opinions?
But if any of these thoughts produce panic in your heart, or sway you to compromise in how you treat others, then your values are off. You are not yet denying those values as fully as Christ demands; you are trying too hard to save your life—that is, your comfort, your honor, your ease. Jesus warns you that “whoever would save his life will lose it” (Luke 9:24).
But then he woos you with a promise: “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Luke 9:24).
You believe you cannot be happy if you loosen your grip on those worldly things you so much love. How could you go on living if you lost your property, or your wealth, or your prestige, or your family, or your political influence, or your safety?
Yet the fact of the matter is that if you have begun to follow Jesus, you have already renounced all of these things. You have put them on the table and said, “Lord, if any of these good things are too heavy for me to carry as I follow you, then I will lay them down so I can keep at your heels.”
If you want to be free of your anxieties and worries in connection with all these earthly matters, then you must remember the agreement you made at the outset. You must not forget that you have already picked up the plow, and you cannot look back (Luke 9:62). Your values are shifting from what they were to what they must be; let them shift.
Spend your time concerned about God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Be dead earnest about the lost, who need to know the Savior and his salvation. Fear sin. Be excited about prayer. Rage against your evil habits that remain (Rom. 8:13). Delight in the coming of Christ to establish justice on earth (2 Pet. 3:12; Luke 18:7). Weep with those who weep; rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15). Do good to all, and be at peace with all, so far as you are able (Gal. 6:10; Rom. 12:18)
For where your values are, there your fears, your joys, your focus, and your efforts will be also.