Terms and conditions

Read: Leviticus 1-3, Matthew 24:23-51

If you’re reading along in your Bible, you will have started Leviticus today. It’s a slog. Unless you’re really into the macabre, there isn’t much exciting about the first three chapters of the book. There’s a lot of killing of animals and gore. And some baking at the end. Don’t forget the salt.

We, having been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, have no need to make animal sacrifices in order to atone for our transgressions. So what is there for us in a book like Leviticus?

Let me explain.

Say you have an item of great value for sale. You’ve done your research and have had it appraised. You set a fair price and the item goes on the market. Someone approaches you and offers you an insulting price. They want to pay you half of what it’s worth. You immediately decline. But this person argues. They really, really need the item you have. You’re not convinced. The person making the offer becomes upset. Who are you to tell them what they can and cannot pay for an item they require? It’s not fair! It’s unjust! You shake your head. It’s your item, after all, and you have every right to decide it’s price based on fair market value. Heck, you can even decide to charge double fair market value if you want. It’s yours! The buyer continues to argue and you try to walk away. They chase after you trying one argument after another. The more they argue, the firmer you are in your decision not to sell to this person even if they ever decided to pay the price you set.

It all sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? When you’ve set the price on something you own, you are under no obligation whatsoever to accept anything but that price.

So why would we ever think that God should be required to accept anything less than what He’s required for the payment of our sin?

The book of Leviticus is God’s terms and conditions. They apply. Since He is the one who offers forgiveness, He is the one who gets to set the price. For those under the old covenant, some very specific sacrifices had to be offered in very specific ways. For those of us under the new covenant, it’s Jesus and Jesus alone who can (and already has) made the sacrifice for us.

John 14:6

There is only one term: Jesus. One condition: our acceptance of him. Anything else would be like the buyer offering half value. Since God is the one in possession of what we need, He is completely within His right to set the price and, if we truly want what He has to offer, we must accept His terms and conditions.

No more. No less.

Read: Exodus 29-30, Matthew 22:1-22

As humans, we want to put a price on everything. On everyone. You may have heard it said that everyone has a price. Whether intentionally or not, we put labels on people. We value them based on their station in life, their skills, education, and sadly, skin colour or nationality—some or all of these to a greater or lesser degree than another.

Some jobs pay more based on experience or expertise while others pay next to nothing, devaluing the person working it. We raise some people higher than others simply because they were born to the “right” parents and we debase some for the very same reason.

God has also put a price on all of our heads. But it is the same price for everyone.

God delivered His chosen people out of slavery so that He could dwell among them and be their God (Exodus 29:45-46). So that they would belong to Him, there was a price that had to be paid.

When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.

Exodus 30:12 (NIV)

In order to be kept in the count, each man over the age of twenty had to pay a price. The same price.

Exodus 30:15

No matter what tribe a person came from or what their station was, all lives were of equal value when it came to the price required to pay their ransom.

RANSOM: A transaction involving the release of an item (or person) in exchange for some type of payment.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

Atonement cannot be made without payment. The price we must pay is no longer a half shekel, but a blood sacrifice. Jesus’ blood. And it his blood and his alone that can complete the transaction. No more. No less. That price is the same for everyone.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Acts 10:34-35 (NIV)

In the eyes of God, we are all valued exactly the same. There is only one price to be paid and only method of payment. The price has already been paid, we need only to accept it. And, once accepted, that price puts us all on equal footing in the kingdom of God. No one is worth more. No one is worth less. But we are all of great value. Great enough that only another life could purchase ours.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NIV)

Let’s argue this out

Without even realising it, there are things that we do that render the value of grace to nothing. Without thinking, we say things that nullify the single greatest gift that has ever been offered to us.

One way to reduce the value of grace is to impose rules and regulations on Christians as a part of church membership. Women must wear their hair long. Men must always wear a suit and tie to church. Children must be seen and never heard. A youth cannot pierce their ear. Jesus never forced any of these things on his followers. Rather, he freed them from all those laws.

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT)

Another way to devalue grace is to insist that people “clean themselves up” before coming to Christ. By saying that they must first overcome their vices before they can receive grace, what we are really saying is that God’s grace is great, but not that great.

Yet another—and probably the most grievous—way that we can take away the value of grace is by saying that we ourselves aren’t good enough to receive it.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

The entire point of grace is that none of us—no matter how good or bad—are really worthy of receiving it. Its value is based entirely on the person who receives it and what their freedom in Christ is worth to them individually. If we put rules and regulations on grace, it is no longer grace at all, but something that must be earned—which grace cannot be.

So we can argue this out, but both Paul and Isaiah have done a pretty good job of it. Grace is only grace when it is completely free. For only grace that is completely free can set a person completely free.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 1-3, Galatians 2

Valuable

What determines the value of your life? Is it how much money you make or how much stuff you have? Is it the quality of your education and the job you have? Is it how much you give to the poor and needy? What is it that makes life worth something if it is even worthy anything at all?

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Paul considered all but three years of his life to be worthless—the only years that held value were the ones he used to obey the call of God on his life.

Like Paul, we’ve all been given the same assignment—the Great Commission as described in Mark 16:15. But what about everything else? Not everyone can (or should) go into full time ministry. How do we know what else to do with our lives to make them worthwhile? How do we know what to do to give our lives worth?

Who else can we get advice from than the man after God’s heart? David certainly knew where guidance came from.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalm 25:12 (NLT)

God’s call on our lives doesn’t simply appear out of thin air the moment we accept Christ as Savior. It takes time. It takes a relationship. It takes trust.

Our value and worth in life are derived from our relationship with God and our obedience to His leading. My call isn’t your call and your call isn’t your sister’s call. While we’ve all been given certain instructions as Christians, the how, when, and where may vary. Determining those factors can only come through your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is where trust and dependence on God comes in.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.

Psalm 25:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 25-27, Acts 20:17-38

Worthless

Where do you find your worth? Do you feel as though you have any worth at all? If you don’t, where do you go looking for worth?

These are all huge questions we all face every day whether we realise it or not. And, the fact of the matter is, most people are looking for worth in all the wrong places. Our worth isn’t in our perfect weight or appearance. It’s not in our work or our family. It’s not in our friends or relationships.

Our worth is found in our worship. What you worship will determine your worth.

They rejected the laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshipped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They followed the examples of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

2 Kings 17:15 (NLT)

There is a very valid reason why God wanted Israel to completely annihilate the previous residents of the Promised Land—He knew that His people were easily swayed and that, if any evil remained, Israel would fall prey to it. So what did Israel do? They let a bunch of the previous residents stay. And what happened? Israel fell into the worship of pagan gods and idols. Their worth dwindled as they drew away from God.

Today, we all search for worth. Who doesn’t want to be valued? So we dress up, do our makeup, work out, find the perfect man or woman to walk beside us, dress up our kids so they make us look better, work at the high class job and drive the nice car. So why do we still keep searching for worth? Could it be that all those things we worship as good and valuable really hold no value at all?

We can only find our true worth when we set our worship on the only One who is worth anything at all.

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NLT)

Your own search for worth can begin and end with Jesus. Nothing else that you can focus your attention on can fulfill your need to be something or someone. It’s all empty. Worthless. But who could make you feel more valuable than the one who created you?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT)

Nothing is more precious to a craftsman than his own masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece. In His eyes, you are valuable. You are worthy. You are His creation. You are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 15-17, John 6:1-21

John 3:16

For many believers, John 3:16 is the first scripture we learned and committed to memory. Many of the things that have been in our memory for a long time can lose their meaning and relevance. So let’s take a deeper look at this well-known verse. Each word is there for a purpose. By defining each one, we can see an even greater value in having this scripture close to our hearts.

For God so loved [regarded with affection, on account of some qualities which excited pleasing sensations of desire or gratification] the world [mankind; people in general] that He gave [exposed; sent forth; pledged; bestowed; transmitted from himself] his only [this and no other] Son, so that everyone [each individual of a whole collection] who believes [having a firm persuasion approaching to certainty] in him will not perish [die; lose life in any manner], but have eternal [without end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; immortal] life [eternal happiness in heaven].

John 3:16 (NLT)

Definitions derived from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 21-22. John 3:1-21

Great Value

As soon as I typed the words Great Value, I’m almost embarrassed to say that my first thought was Walmart. For those in countries where Walmart exists, you’ll know that Great Value is their house brand. But I don’t want to talk about Walmart today. I want to talk about great value. Something valuable.

VAL’UABLE, adjective. Having value or worth; having some good qualities which are useful and esteemed; precious.

While Walmart’s house brand might be useful, I’d hardly go so far as to call it precious.

Jesus points to a gift of great value in Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poo as she is, has given everything she has to live on.

Mark 12:43-44 (NLT)

I know what that widow felt like. I’ve dug through my wallet and dropped literally every last penny (well, nickel, since we in Canada no longer have pennies) into the offering bucket.

From a monetary perspective, the widow gave the least, but from a perspective of need that widow gave the most.

Too often, we withhold a gift because we don’t believe it is valuable enough. We’re ashamed at how little we have to offer. But the true value isn’t in the price of the gift, it’s in what it costs us to give it.

In Mark, those who gave much could have given much more. They didn’t need what they put in the offering. The widow, on the other hand, could have used those last two pennies to buy her next meal. Instead, she gave all she had on faith.

God isn’t looking for us to wait to give until the monetary value is what we think it should be. He just wants us to give. Period. I know of people on welfare who keep a pocket full of gift cards just in case they come across someone who may be in greater need than they.

To God, great value isn’t in the price tag, it’s in the attitude of the heart.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 8-10, Mark 12:28-44