How much are you worth? What’s your first thought? I’m priceless? Cynics would say we all have a price. Judas for thirty pieces of silver sold his beliefs and his friend (not to mention savior), Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup, politicians sell out for campaign endorsements, and we sell out to peer pressure all the time. But if you had to stop, think about it, and put a price tag on yourself, what is your worth?
I can’t say I ever gave much thought to it until the other day. Here is what shook me up.
“I found him!” Angie told me. She was obviously upset, but I had no idea who “he” was, so I asked. “The guy who gave me AIDS! At least I think it was, because he was there for treatment the same time I was.”
Empathizing is not the difficult part of my job, but sometimes comprehending is. What would it be like A) to know you have a deadly autoimmune disease, and B) to see the person who give it to you? I honestly cannot begin to imagine what is going on in her heart, mind, body, or soul… all I can do is love her, listen to her, and “mourn with those who mourn.”
“The woman at the desk saw that I recognized him. She said ‘he’s been getting treatment for a while.’ But I know him! He knows he has AIDS and what he’s doing, Steven. He buys a different girl every night!!
“I talked to my case worker about it and she said I should report him… it’s a crime. So, pray for me, cause I’m going down to the police office to report him. I’m so scared, but someone has to do it so no one else gets sick by him. Those girls have no idea; they were just like me. They don’t know that for $10 they are being killed… a long, lonely, painful death.”
$10… I heard very little after that. $10? All of this, the AIDS, the prostitution… all of it is new to me, but $10?! If it was $100 it wouldn’t make it any less sad and terrible. But you want to believe that someone’s body, life, safety, health, and dignity are worth more than $10.
This really changed things for me, because Angie and I have been talking for a long time. One thing that nearly always comes up is her value. To be honest, it's a conversation I have with every battered man and woman I meet. “Whatever you have been told or made to feel, you have value! I value you, and more importantly, God values you, enough to give His Son for you. You deserve better than the life that you’ve had.” I mean these words, every fiber of my being is committed to this belief and to convincing these precious children of God of this truth… and yet it often seems to fall on deaf ears. The reason for this finally hit me. In her mind, Angie is worth $10.
What would you have to go through to lower your worth to that price? That, my brothers, is the true cost of sin. Satan robs me of my worth and leaves me with the guilt and the pain. But, Christ offers forgiveness, He makes me new, He makes me a joint heir, He exalts me from my humble, miserable state, strengthens my weak knees and helps me to stand.
It may take a long time for Angie to experience that, for her to see herself as a precious, beloved, child of the King, but that is why it’s important for someone to commit himself to giving as much time as it takes. This is why it’s important for her to be greeted with love rather than reproach, with a smile instead of a scowl, a prayer and uplifting word in place of a curse, and the love of Christ instead of the judgment of the self-righteous. It is a tall order for someone who has had the luxury of being sheltered from this world must of his life. But Jesus didn’t turn from the woman caught in adultery, he didn’t reject Levi, or Zacchaeus, the tax collectors just because he had never done the things they did. He connected with them in their suffering. He saw their worth, just as He sees Angie’s. I can’t take her pain away but I can sit with her in that pain. I can show her the love she shows me, and our Lord shows us both.
“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4 ESV).