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December 2016 Brief: Volume 23, Number 36

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The Worth of a Person


By Jerry Hopkins



There are questions that we have to consider. One that all of us face has to do with what we are worth. Have you ever seriously tried to determine what you are worth? I’m not referring to what you own or how much you possess in wealth. I’m raising the question of what you yourself are worth as a person. There are some questions that we ought to associate with the worth of a person. Why do we surround our children with love? Why do we try to protect them and insulate them from evil influences? Why do we teach them and encourage them in doing right and good? Isn’t it because we see in them remarkable, even exceptional, value and worth? How much would you take for your child? Would you exchange your 40-pound daughter for a 400-pound gorilla? Even to ask this kind of question seems ridiculous because anyone knows that a precious child is worth far more than a gorilla.


Have you considered the value of each little child that has been sacrificed in the act of abortion? What is the value of all those little ones? What is the value of just one little baby? What a tragedy that so many little lives have been destroyed, all their value lost for the present and future. Think of the millions that have been sacrificed on the altar of personal pleasure or callous rejection. Each time we argue for a moral value, we raise the question of worth. We do not set moral values for mice, but we do for men. Every time we build a hospital, a school, a library, or a church, we are raising the question of human worth and value. We are arguing that a person is of more value than the beasts of the field that Jesus talked about. He said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or . . . drink; or . . . what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-29). It is a question of value and worth. God values His creation, particularly human beings. We are to value one another and respect one another.

Many years ago, I heard a businessman talking about this as “a dog-eat-dog world.” Now when a dog eats a dog, we don’t think very much about it; but when a man eats a man, it is another matter entirely. We get concerned about that because we value a man. That is why we sell cows, not men, in the markets. This is why people are valuable; there isn’t a price that we can put on human life. This is all related to the image that we bear. We were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Nothing else in the world is said to have this particular image. No other creature has the image of God the Creator. This is why Jesus asked, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Man has value. Jesus presents that fact in this powerful statement of worth.

When man rebelled against His Maker in that ancient deed, long, long ago, the human race sold itself to sin. God thought we were worth a great price, such a price that He had to pay it Himself. For this reason, the Bible says that we were redeemed, bought not with “corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). In these biblical statements, we get an idea of the value, the enormous worth, of each individual human being. We need to value each person, not just those we appreciate and admire, but all individuals. We should not casually cast anyone away and dismiss them willingly and without consideration. What are you worth? What are we worth?


Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a history professor at East Texas Baptist University and a freelance columnist living in Marshall, TX. Contact him at


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