The Worth of a Person

By Not Known

What makes a person worthwhile?

An increasingly common approach is to add up what value a person contributes and then deduct from it the costs they impose. These value and costs might be social, economic and such like, but they represent a strictly utilitarian view of human worth. People have worth only so long as they make a net positive contribution on whatever criteria of value is been used.

The Bible knows little of this grim calculus. As a poet put it: ‘high heaven rejects the lore of nicely calculated less or more’. In God's eyes, people have worth for what they are and not for what they do.

Several passages teach this sense of worth. Anyone who sheds human blood will be called to account … for in the image of God has God made man (Gen 9: 6). We are indeed a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned with glory and honour (Ps 8: 5) fearfully and wonderfully made and carefully watched over by God even when in-utero (Ps 139: 13- 16)

The greatest measure of human worth is the price that God was prepared to pay to regain us for himself. God so loved us that he gave his Son that we might not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3: 16). Those of us who are parents feel the force of those words most painfully.

This sense of human worth being bound up with what we are before God has huge implications in all kinds of areas. These include killing in war, capital punishment, abortion, embryonic creation and experimentation, aged care, euthanasia and such like. These are certainly complex issues and our ethical reasoning concerning them must be multi-sided, but a sense of human worth before God is a bedrock Christian Value.

This also has implications for our attitudes and actions towards people with disabilities. Note the term: these are valuable people first, and only then do they have disabilities. God created us with heart, soul, mind and body and it is a sad fact of a fallen world that people can have disabilities in any one of these aspects (or a combinations of them). Indeed, there is a sense in which we are all disabled; the only question is the dimension and degree of our disability. What is your disability?

So let us honour all human life as having great worth because it is from God. And let us do this in deeds and not just in words.