Restoring the Broken Treasures of God

What are the treasures of God? They are perhaps summarised in the Maori proverb:

He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Today we are talking about THE VALUE OF PEOPLE

1 John 4:21 (MSG) “If anyone boasts, “I love God”, and goes right on hating his brother and sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”

As a community of believers, our second greatest commandment (after loving the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind), is to love one another as ourselves. This means to love God we must love others, and to love others we must love ourselves.

When we read the accounts of the life of the Israelite slaves to the Egyptians in the book of Exodus, enslaved for 400 years with cruel taskmasters as their overlords, we may think that is not happening now but the horrible reality is that the oppression and slavery of people is still as prevalent today as they were in Biblical times. In fact, there are more people now in slavery in the world than there was at the height of the African slave trade of the 1800s. Today there are 46 million people physically enslaved in this world.

All around the world, groups of people are physically and mentally victimised and mistreated by those who wield power over them; they are suffering just like the Israelites were. They are people who have been abused, neglected and forgotten. But physical slavery is not all that we have to contend with in this day and age; we can also be bound emotionally and mentally. We can be slaves to money, slaves to family and social expectations, slaves to illness, slaves to our own temptations and desires, the list is endless.

We know that the story in Exodus is a story of hope. God heard the cries of His chosen people, and he felt concern for them.

As we seek to relate the Bible to our modern context, it’s fair to ask the question- does God still feel troubled for the people who are trapped and enslaved today? Does He still hear their cries?

Of course He does!

As it says in Isaiah 49:13-16, “Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Yet Jerusalem says “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would never forget you! See I have written your name in the palms of my hands.”

God hears our cries. He knows our hurts. He knows our insecurities.

When we cannot do things for ourselves, the Lord provides in remarkable ways.

Since we cannot save ourselves from the harsh reality of death, God sent His son Jesus to protect and guide us onto the path of righteous living.

Jesus not only redeems us from our own sins, but is also an ever-present comfort and encouragement to us as we live in a fallen world. The Lord cares for His people with the love and grace of a Father or a mother, and He alone knows the potential of each and every one of us.

God didn’t intend for humanity to live in a world of sin, or in a world where the full potential of people is not recognised.

Unlike the world, God does not reject His people, in fact the Lord tells us in Jeremiah, “I am as likely to reject my people as I am to abolish the laws of nature”. 

We believe in a relational God who is concerned for the people who are broken and hurting, and He wants us to feel concern for them too. In Philippians 2:4 we read, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too”. 

This verse urges us to open our eyes to the needs of those in our community; to hear their stories and walk alongside them. As a body of believers can we band together to demonstrate genuine affection to our neighbours through intentional conversations and Christ-like servanthood.  

The second commandment is to love others as we love ourselves, so let’s start at the end of that passage: we need to value ourselves.

VALUING SELF

Think about an encounter between a murderer and desert sheep-herder who had once been prince of Egypt and God through the medium of the burning bush.

Here God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and set his people free.  Here God lays his call on Moses. Yet we hear Moses persistently making excuses as to why he isn’t the right person for the job.

 “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

 “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’

 “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

It isn’t that Moses didn’t believe the Israelites needed rescuing. He knew all too well the struggles and hardships his people were going through.

The issue was that Moses didn’t believe in himself. He knew all the things about himself that made him inadequate for the job at hand. His own insecurities and self-doubts prevented Moses from willingly submitting to God’s plan.

As we read earlier in 1 John 4:21, in order to love God and to love others, Moses first had to love himself.

To be fair, Moses was partly right. If he had tried to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians in his own strength, he would have failed miserably. He had tried to act as a saviour once before and it resulted in him killing a man. But Moses was forgetting one crucial element. This time God was leading the way. Moses would not have to rely on his own strength; instead, he could rely on the almighty strength of the Lord. 

What are some things that God has put in your life right now that you are inadequately equipped to deal with? Know that the Word tells us with God by your side you can move mountains.

 God does not make mistakes. In choosing you to play a part in His plan, God knew He was choosing the right person for the job. It was no different for Moses.

 Ephesians 2:10 reads “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Whether we know what that plan is or not is a minor detail, and whether we choose to follow the path that God leads us on is up to us. Moses had many reasons why he was not the right person to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Yet God picked him.

 

God picks the most unlikely of people for His purposes, to demonstrate His power and sovereignty. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The more you feel you are not adequate enough to do a particular thing the Lord has called you to do, the more God is able to display His power through you.

God wants you as you are, not as you ‘should be’. He will give you the strength to do the things he has planned for you to do. 

For many of us faced with the deafening lies of the world around us, the lies sometimes seems to speak louder than God. When this happens, our insecurities and fears are reinforced and we lose our sense of worth and value; and those who fall short of worldly measures of worth find themselves outcast and on the fringes of society.

In reality, the only true reflection of our worth is the love of our Heavenly Father. To counter the lies of the world, we need to be familiar with the Word of God and allow His Word to open our eyes to how He really sees us- not how we see ourselves. Only then will we be able to fully bask in the radiance of the Lord’s goodness to us. Every one of us is a precious child of God. And it is not until you appreciate your own worth that you will be able to fully recognise the worth and value of others.  

So to the second thing: VALUING OTHERS

Just as you individually are precious to God, His love and care also extends to the rest of humankind.

God loves the saints and the sinners, equally.

And God loves and has compassion for the woman who stands on the street daily, forced to sell her body, just as much as He loves and cares for the farmer who faithfully prays that his rice crop will do well this year.

People are a priceless treasure, all created with something to offer and a story to share. But in the process of life we have become broken.  But we are still treasure.

When we are called to love others, we are called to do more than to love them from a distance. 1 John 3:18 tells us “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

Through relationship with others, God gifts us the opportunity to touch lives and share experiences in a way that glorifies Him. Through relationships with others, we can ensure people feel loved and heard as we take the time to learn and mentor one another, and input words of truth into their life.

As believers, we should know what it truly means to treasure people, and that is to treat them the way Jesus treated people when he walked this earth 2000 years ago.

Jesus is the greatest role model we could possibly have when it comes to loving others. Jesus doesn’t spend his time engaging in superficial and shallow relationships, and he doesn’t judge people based on their appearance or circumstances; instead He looks at their heart and speaks into their spirit.

Both here in NZ and overseas, people are in desperate need of a Saviour. As they find themselves slaves- both in a literal and metaphorical sense, to the world around them, they are desperately waiting for someone to rescue them from the depths of their despair.

When was the last time you offered a helping hand, a supportive smile, or a warm cup of tea to someone who is a no-one to the people around them? We are called to spread the Good News so that the people of this world will know that they are valued and precious to God.

CLOSING KARAKIA

Kia tau te rangimãrie Kei runga I ngã tãngata katoa Kei runga hoki, i tēnei ai hurihuri

Let your peace reign on all people of the world