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Christian Values vs. the World’s Values

Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.

Years ago, I watched the hostess of a popular talk show gasp in horror at finding out that even 17- year-old models had their "imperfections" airbrushed out of professional photos. Her response was, "if someone so young is not perfect, how can the rest of us measure up?" In these days of social media, filters and alterations have become the norm.

In the drive to become thinner, more gorgeous, more prosperous, and live the high life, we can lose ourselves. Some of us look to celebrities and social media influencers to determine what we should wear and how we should appear. Many influencers seem to be skinny 30-somethings with no grey hairs in sight. Rich, successful people are put on a pedestal. Many people see their value as based on what is on the outside and not what is inside.

What the World Values

In my search for self-worth, I began to explore the things that God values and realized that they are not the same as what the world thinks are important. These values fall into several categories.

Youth and Beauty

The world will honor beautiful people, even if brains do not come with the package. A few years ago, a TV program did an interesting experiment.

They asked an attractive young woman, who I will call Shawna, to walk down a busy street. She would ask people for change and then ask them for their help picking up some books she had dropped. When she walked like her thin, pretty herself, people - especially men - fell all over themselves to help her. They offered her money, carried her books, and were very kind.

The next time Shawna went out, she wore a kind of “fat suit” that made her appear twice her weight and wore makeup that downplayed her looks. People ignored her bigger self and turned her down flat when she asked for help.

The world is obsessed with youth and beauty and spends untold millions on plastic surgery and other measures to live up to its impossible standards. Some men pursue pretty women half their age to boost their egos. Women spend a fortune on makeup and weird procedures to look young. On the other hand, older people and seniors are despised and put away.

Money and Position

I have worked in administration offices at service organizations, art galleries, and museums where I have had contact with wealthy patrons. I was amazed at how my co-workers treated these people with an almost god-like reverence. My co-workers would be very careful how they conducted themselves around the patrons.

The staff and volunteers went out of their way to avoid potentially offending a patron, whether it is by offering a plum summer job to the wealthy patron’s unskilled teen or being careful about their wording in memos on exhibits in the family’s name.

We usually look up to wealthy people, even though we may be more educated, have a better sense of style, and are more intelligent than they are.

Intelligence

We admire smart people. I experienced this with my gifted daughter when she was young. When I tell people how advanced she is in her studies at school, people had more respect for my kid and me because of it.

A Great Career or a Successful Business

People are also valued by what they do for a living. For many years, I worked as a temporary secretary and did some writing on the side. I eventually started my own publishing company and became the editor of several publications. If I told people I was a secretary, I got less respect than when I said I was an editor and publisher, even if temping was doing a better job of paying the bills.

A Winning Personality

Some people are not that beautiful or rich, but they have attractive personalities. They are outgoing and know how to put people around them at ease. They are confident and witty and are valued as the life of the party.

Fame

Many people envy the acclaim and notoriety of the famous. Some are trying to get on reality shows or aim to be the next “American Idol.” Whenever a reality talent show holds auditions, tens of thousands show up. These people long for the applause, accolades, and money that go with fame.

A look at Solomon – The Guy Who Had It All

Our world highly regards virtues like those listed above. Yet, these so-called values seem very superficial when looked at objectively. If any Biblical character had everything going for him, it was King Solomon. He asked God for wisdom and got it (1 Kings 3:5-14).

God gave Solomon great wealth, power, and a peaceful and prosperous kingdom. Solomon was so famous that the Queen of Sheba came to Israel to check him out. She was “breathless” because of all she saw there (1 Kings 10:1-10 9:3-8).

All Solomon’s riches and power became a snare to him. He took many women as his wives, and some influenced him to worship other gods. Solomon seemed to have a perfect life, yet he said that everything was meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1).

How God’s Values Are Different

There are major differences in what the world and God think is valuable.

God Wants Us to Put Him First

Seeking the world’s values separates us from the Lord. Solomon had lots of stuff, but his things and many wives led him away from God. We cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

God Looks at the Inside, Not the Outside

God looks at the heart, not an outward show (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus was not impressed with the external display of piety the Pharisees put on. He saw the corruption inside them and called them hypocrites.

Jesus is often portrayed in movies as a gorgeous guy with haunting eyes. However, the prophet Isaiah described Jesus as a plain guy who: “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, (and) nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2-3). Jesus was able to slip away from the crowds for some alone time during His ministry. He could not have done that if he looked like Brad Pitt.

God values qualities such as humility, godly character, and a love for Him and their fellow man. He loves people who recognize they are sinners, are repentant, live by his commandments, and seek to do His will. He wants to have a close, loving relationship with them like a father has with His children.

God Wants Us to Treat Everyone Equally

There are many verses in the bible that show that God is no respecter of persons (1 Peter 1:17). James 2:1- 9 tells us we should not hold onto the faith of Jesus Christ with partiality.

These verses give an example of how people should be treated. A man in fine clothes and gold rings and a poor man in filthy clothes came in. The host seated the rich man in a good place while the poor man was told to sit by the host's footstool or to stand. The preferential treatment of the rich man dishonored the poor man and was sin.

The Things of This World Do Not Last

Jesus taught that we should store up treasures in heaven instead of the world’s wealth (Matthew 6:20-22). The world’s wealth can be destroyed by vermin and moths or stolen by thieves. People can get fired and lose their status, wealth, possessions, and loved ones. Beauty fades over time.

Jesus warned us to be on guard against all types of greed and said that life does not consist of having a lot of possessions. He told a story about a rich fool who had such an abundant harvest that he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones (Luke 12:13-20). The rich fool told himself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” He ended up dying that night, and as the old saying goes, he could not take it with him.

God Commands Us to Value Older People

We Christians are aware of the commandment to honor our parents. God wants us also to respect and look up to older people and seniors as well (Leviticus 19:32, Proverbs 16:31). We should seek their wisdom and learn from their experiences.

The things that the world values are transient and will pass away. If we delight in the Lord, He will give us the things we desire (Psalm 37:4). God’s promises of blessings and eternal life are reliable and permanent.

Reference:

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version


© 2022 Carola Finch

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