What Has Real Value?
Possessing something of real value can be exhilarating. But what could that be? A large sum of money? Expensive or exotic jewelry? Fame and prominence? Many people highly value these. Having them can provide sustenance, make life more meaningful, or satisfy an inner need for recognition and achievement. Are we striving to acquire such things, hoping that they will fulfill our goals and aspirations for the future?
FOR the most part, people value something based on how it fills their needs or satisfies their personal desires. We hold dear things that elicit a feeling of well-being and hold out the prospect of a secure future. We treasure things that bring immediate relief, comfort, or recognition. Yet, assigning value based on our changing desires or interests is shallow and shortsighted. In reality, true value is determined by what we perceive to be our greatest need.
What is our greatest need? Nothing has any value without one primary ingredient—life. Without life, we do not exist. King Solomon of ancient Israel wrote: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all . . . There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [mankind’s common grave].” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) If death overtakes us, we are forced to relinquish everything we possess. Our greatest need, then, is to procure something that will preserve our lives. What will do that?
What Will Preserve Our Lives?
“Money is for a protection,” stated King Solomon. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) With enough money, we can obtain food and a comfortable home. Money may enable us to enjoy the pleasure of traveling to distant places. It can supply our necessities when we can no longer work because of old age or infirmity. Many are the advantages of having money. Yet, money cannot preserve our lives. The apostle Paul admonished Timothy: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.” (1 Timothy 6:17) All the money in the world cannot buy life for us.
Consider the experience of a man named Hitoshi. Having been brought up poor, Hitoshi had a strong desire to be rich. He believed so much in the power of money that he thought even humans could be bought with it. Then a man came to Hitoshi’s door and asked him if he knew that Jesus Christ had died for him. This question made Hitoshi curious because he felt that no one would die for a person like him. He attended a public Bible talk and was shocked to hear the admonition to ‘keep the eye simple.’ The speaker explained that a “simple” eye is one that is farsighted and focused on spiritual things. (Luke 11:34) Rather than toiling for money, Hitoshi began to put spiritual values first in his life.
Material possessions can also bring us a measure of stability and security. Having an abundance can relieve us of anxiety about our daily needs. A nice home in a desirable neighborhood may give us a feeling of accomplishment. Stylish clothes and a fine automobile can bring us the admiration of others.
It is a blessing to ‘see good for all our hard work.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:13) And having a surplus may enable our loved ones to ‘take their ease, eat, drink, and enjoy themselves.’ However, material things have only fleeting value. In a warning against covetousness, Jesus Christ said: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15-21) Possessions, regardless of the amount or value, cannot guarantee us life.
Liz, for example, was married to a financially successful man. She relates: “We had a beautiful home and two cars, and our financial situation allowed us freedom to enjoy anything the world had to offer in the way of material things . . . Oddly enough, I still worried about money.” She explains: “We had so much to lose. It seems that the more you have, the less secure you feel.”
Fame and prominence are also highly valued by many because they may bring praise and honor. In today’s world a successful career is an accomplishment that is envied. Cultivating unique talents or skills might help us make a name for ourselves. Others may praise us, highly regard our opinions, and be anxious to win our favor. All of this can be exhilarating and satisfying. In the end, however, it fades away. Solomon had all the glory and power that a king could have, but he lamented: “There is no more remembrance of the wise one than of the stupid one . . . Everyone is certainly forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 2:16) Life is not the reward for fame or prominence.
A sculptor named Celo came to appreciate something far more valuable than fame. Being gifted, he qualified for schooling that enhanced his skills. Soon his work received praise in the press and from art critics. Many of his sculptures were exhibited in major cities of Europe. Celo relates: “I must admit that for a time art was the most important thing in my life. However, I came to realize that for me, continuing to pursue my career would be comparable to trying to serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) I was convinced that the most important thing I could do was preach the good news of God’s Kingdom. So I made the personal decision to give up my work as a sculptor.”
What Has the Greatest Value?
Since nothing has any meaning or value without life, what can we acquire that will guarantee that we keep living? All life originates with Jehovah God. (Psalm 36:9) Indeed, “by him we have life and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28) He bestows everlasting life as a gift on those he loves. (Romans 6:23) What must we do to qualify for this gift?
Receiving the gift of everlasting life depends on our having a close relationship with Jehovah. His favor, therefore, has greater value than anything else we could possibly possess. When we have it, we have the prospect of genuine and everlasting happiness. Without God’s favor, however, we face eternal extinction. Clearly, then, anything that will help us to achieve a good relationship with Jehovah is of immense value.
What We Must Do
Our success depends on our gaining knowledge. The source of accurate knowledge is Jehovah’s Word, the Bible. It alone tells us what we must do to please God. We therefore need to study the Scriptures carefully. A diligent effort to learn all we can about Jehovah God and Jesus Christ results in ‘knowledge that means everlasting life.’ (John 17:3) Such knowledge is a treasure to be cherished!—Proverbs 2:1-5.
The knowledge we gain from God’s Word equips us to take the next step—exercising faith in Jesus Christ. Jehovah has decreed that all who come to him must do so through Jesus. (John 14:6) Actually, “there is no salvation in anyone else.” (Acts 4:12) Our ultimate survival depends, not on ‘silver or gold . . . , but on the precious blood of Christ.’ (1 Peter 1:18, 19) We must demonstrate our faith by believing Jesus’ teachings and following his example. (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:21) And how valuable his sacrifice is! The application of its benefits determines the everlasting future of all mankind. When it is fully applied in our behalf, we are given the truly valuable gift of everlasting life.—John 3:16.
Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Loving Jehovah means that “we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) His commandments require that we keep separate from the world, maintain upright conduct, and loyally support his Kingdom. That is the way we “choose life” instead of death. (Deuteronomy 30:19) If we ‘draw close to God, he will draw close to us.’—James 4:8.
An assurance of God’s favor is worth far more than all the world’s treasures. Those who have it are the wealthiest people on earth! May we, then, strive to acquire the treasure of real value—Jehovah’s approval. By all means, let us take to heart the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper. Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life.”—1 Timothy 6:11, 12.
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What do you value highly? Money, material possessions, fame, or something else?
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We need to study the Scriptures carefully