“The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.”

—Marcus Aurelius

What we’ve pursued—and measured our worth by—has changed over the years.

What we do. We once measured our worth by the kind of work we did. Your profession determined your value to society. I still remember that ubiquitous question  I was asked as a kid, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” That was important because we wanted our kids to grow up and be productive members of society.

What we own. Over time, we shifted the emphasis to our stuff. What we own gives us the status we crave. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or the guy who fixes the clogged sink at the doctor’s house. It no longer matters where your money comes from, so long as you have money to spend on the right stuff.

Look at our houses; they keep getting bigger and bigger. When I was a kid, a 1500  square foot house was big; now those are  considered starter homes. You want a real house that shows you’ve arrived? Get one that’s at least 3,000 square feet.

What others think. Just look at social media, and you’ll see how society is changing where we look for our perceived value.  So many people get their validation from how many Twitter followers they have and  how many people repost their photo and pithy remark. And everybody wants lots of “likes” on whatever they posted on Faceboook—even if it is nothing more that a picture of the fried Spam they had for lunch.

Years from now, when you’re in the throes of death, when you know your minutes are numbered, which one of these will matter to you? Ask yourself:

  • If my productivity matters, does that I mean I lose my value when I retire?
  • If my possessions matter, do I lose my worth when all that stuff I valued ends up at Goodwill because no one even wanted it at my garage sale?
  • If opinions matter, is my value lost when the fickle winds of public likes and dislikes change direction again?

You know where your value and worth comes from.

  • It’s grounded in what you do for God: loving Him supremely and loving those He places in front of us.
  • It’s grounded in what you possess as a result of God’s grace and generosity: you have His salvation and presence in your life.
  • It’s grounded in God’s opinion of you. He loves you no matter what. However you may have sinned and devalued yourself, He loves you. Faithfully. Consistently. Without hesitation.

So let’s return to that quote from the ever-hip emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. If the true worth of a person is seen in what he pursues, what do you pursue?

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…. I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:8,12).