It’s evident where we place value. On one hand, we will devote unquestioned time, energy, and resources based on what is needed. On the other hand, we will predetermine what we’re willing to give and stop when we reach the limit. My husband worked many years in the corporate world to support his farming habit. Even now, in “retirement,” he puts hours into planning, research, making purchases, using software and strategies in addition to actual field work. But when it comes to livestock, he has limits. I am the opposite.
That illustration applies to much of life. Each of us rearranges and changes our life based on what has the most value and what we find attractive or good. What I say is reinforced or denied by my actions.
Jesus said, “I love you” and His actions are proof: He gave up the wonder and glories of Heaven–of being face to face with His Father–and took on human flesh. He lived a life of earthly poverty, suffered an excruciating death, and bore the wrath of God for your sin and mine. Jesus’ actions are evidence that you and I have more value than Heavenly comfort, more than Jesus’ physical life, reputation, respect, admiration, or aspiration. He willingly gave up everything to purchase our sin-cursed souls.
An individual who says “I love you,” but has limits on what he is willing to do or give, loves something or someone else more.
Each of us makes time, gives resources and energy to what is most important, or valuable. How you live is evidence of what you desire regardless of what you say or what you want others to believe.
A commitment to church, community, social needs, work, or an organization is not bad–until it takes the place of something with greater value. This is why many abusive individuals “look” so good. Others see the value they place on helping others, and assume** they do the same at home. The truth is quite the opposite. These individuals value their reputation, appearance, and admiration of others more than anything else. If they sense that caring for people at home wins them brownie points in public, that’s where they put their attention. If they sense that following the rules earns appreciation and acknowledgement, they will follow the rules. If they value money and possessions, that’s where their time and energy will be spent. If it’s control, they move Heaven and earth, doing ungodly things, to maintain their own standards. Any obstacle to their desires results in anger, frustration, and outbursts.
In other words, what you see is not what you get. It’s a heart issue. Until you move beyond behavior and appearance, until you remove the sheepskin from the wolf, you don’t know what’s underneath. And if you are on the outside, if they want to impress you or knock your socks off, they will. And you’ll never know.
That’s why it’s so important to listen to the people who aren’t valued; the ones who pay the price, who are neglected, misused, and abused. An individual can fool most of the people most of the time, but those they live with know, see, and experience the reality of priorities and value.
There is a biblical principle that if I am willing to sin to get or keep something, it is an idol. Unfortunately, there are those who are willing to overlook deceit, oppression, and sin in order to keep or maintain marriage. The answer is not to “stop deceiving” or “stop hurting” others, but to want Jesus more; to want God and His righteousness more than marriage, more than a husband or church’s reputation, more than keeping score. Some say that is impossible, that God and marriage are synonymous; that God and a husband’s “right” to sex are synonymous.
I beg to differ. I agree with Jesus. “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)