Calculating The Worth Of Your Soul

by Reagan McClenny


Scripture: Mt 6:21 Jan 28, 2024

Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, so Reagan examines 4 ways we calculate worth - comparative, cost, demand, and sentimental - to show that our souls have immense value to both God and the devil, and we should see our own souls and the souls of others as precious so that we treat them accordingly.


Jesus said, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What are the most precious treasures in your life? You know, when you perceive something as valuable, you generally treat it accordingly. And whatever you consider your treasures to be, generally those are the things that we make a priority in our life.

A priority to protect, a priority to use. And as I think about this concept, and we've divorced it from its context there in Matthew chapter 6, but Jesus is stating a truism here. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I think one of the things that could help so many people so many people, both Christians and non Christians, If we could see the value of our own soul and the value of the souls of others, it would help us physically and it would help us spiritually.

If we could see how precious our souls are, perhaps we would do more to preserve those souls and protect those souls. If we could see how precious our souls are, perhaps we would not question our inherent value before God and as a human being. Perhaps if we could see how precious souls are, we would, we would be more eager to seek to save the souls of others.

And maybe just practically, perhaps if we could see how precious souls are, we wouldn't be so annoyed by others and their shortcomings, and in the things that they do. Perhaps, perhaps it would sadden us to see so many precious souls in spiritual distress and motivate us to proclaim the gospel to them.

Perhaps all of that could be accomplished by just seeing a soul as the precious treasure that it is. If we see the treasure of a soul, then our heart will be aligned to that treasure. to respond in such a way that we should as Christians. So would you join me this morning as we take on perhaps the difficult task of calculating the value, the worth of your soul.

Thank you for being here this morning. If you have your Bible with you, I encourage you to turn to Matthew chapter 16. That's where we'll be here in just a moment, Matthew chapter 16. I want to especially, as has already been done, welcome our visitors. I see a few in the congregation this morning. We're grateful for your presence.

And we will have done well, even if we stopped right now and we all went home, for the things that we've done together. In worshipping God, in song, and going to Him in prayer in thinking about, seriously, remembering, Jesus and His sacrifice for us, but I hope that we add something by these few minutes as we consider some things from God's Word and as we consider the worth of a soul.

How do you determine the value of something? If we're calculating the worth or the value of your soul or of mine or of someone else's, it's helpful, I think, to think about all of the ways that we determine value in this life. And there are several ways that we might go about doing that. And I would suggest that we see some of these ways that we determine value.

We see these ways expressed in the Bible as it talks about calculating the worth of a soul. So let's consider four types of worth. or value this morning. And the first is comparative value. By comparing something to something else where we know the value of the other thing more clearly, we have a better idea of what this other thing is worth, right?

That's the whole idea in real estate when you pull up comps on a house. So, you're going to buy a house, you're going to sell a house, you're going to appraise the value of a house. That's what the appraisal district does, right? And we complain about that, perhaps if it's too high when we're paying taxes, we complain when it's too low when we're trying to sell or buy.

And yet what's happening there is, okay, I compare all of these other houses and what they've sold for, and that tells me something about the value of them. my house or this house I'm trying to buy. So, comparative value. And we can do the same thing when it comes to the soul. Comparing the value of a soul to something else tells us things.

It tells us in two ways. When we compare it to something big, something where we say this has a lot of value, and when we compare it to something small. Something that we say, well, I don't see much value in this. If we can make those comparisons, It tells us something about the worth of a soul. If you're there in Matthew chapter 16, Matthew chapter 16 in verse 26 says, For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? So here again, this is a comparison, right? And they lived much more in a barter system than we do. It's not that. They didn't have coinage and those sorts of things to use, but oftentimes you would exchange something. And so the question is, what would you give in exchange for your soul?

And we know that there are many in this world. Many outside of Christ who sell their soul for very, very little. A moment of pleasure, a moment to avoid pain. Whatever the case might be, they sell their soul as if they don't understand or perceive the value of that. But Jesus says in Matthew chapter 16, you can gain the whole world.

You could gain everything else that there is in this physical life and it would not be worth trading your soul for that. And that's a powerful point of comparison, isn't it? Do you remember when you were a kid and they were talking about, well, what if you get three wishes and those sorts of things? I had an economics teacher one time who witnessed this.

made us go through this exercise and said, remember when you were a kid and you said, I want all the money in the whole world, right? And he said, well, what would happen to the financial markets if one person contained, controlled all the money? And we had to go through this exercise, right? Turns out, I don't want all the money in the whole world, I only want 10 billion dollars or whatever, right?

And yet, what Jesus says, you can gain everything. You can have all of the pleasure, you can have all of the wealth, you can have all of the power. Everything that this world offers. And it's not worth trading one single solitary soul. And if we can see that, that changes the way we look at ourselves. That changes the way we look at others.

But it's not just comparing it to something big and valuable like that. If we compare it to something small, we see something about the value of our soul. At least from the perspective of God. If you turn to Matthew chapter 10, Matthew chapter 10. I think this is especially helpful when we fall into this trap of saying, you know, is God there?

Does God care? Is God gonna know? Why would God care about me when there's everything else and everyone else for Him to worry about? And yet if we compare our soul to something small in value, it tells us something about our value to God. Read there in verse 29.

A coin worth about one sixteenth of a denarius. This is a very small amount of money. And you can buy two sparrows for that. And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your fathers. We read back in Matthew chapter 6 that God provides for the sparrows, the birds of the air. He gives them the things that they need.

And it's kind of incredible to think about all of the billions and billions of birds that are alive right this very moment across the world. And all of the billions upon billions upon billions of birds that have lived over the course of history, going all the way back to the creation. Birds predate us, right?

And yet, not a single bird has ever fallen outside of the knowledge and will of God. These birds that are only worth a single copper coin. And God knows, and God sees, and God provides.

Verse 30, But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore. You are of more value, more worth, than many sparrows. I think Jesus is being a little bit humorous here. Of course, a person is worth more than a few birds. But if God cares and provides for something of such little value, how much more will He provide for us when He knows us so intimately He can count the number of hairs on our head.

Perhaps, if we compare our soul to other things like this, we realize the value that it has. But it's not just comparative value that is helpful to us. It's kind of implied here in our text that we just read in Matthew chapter 10. They're sold for a copper coin. Perhaps it seems a little unsavory, perhaps a little rude in this context, to ask, how much does it cost?

How much does a soul But there is a tangible reality to cost value. You see, you see a tag on something and you see the cost on that. That tells you something about the worth of that item. It tells you something about its value. It communicates something to us. And we think about the cost value. How do we, how do we determine that?

There's all sorts of reasons. We might go shopping, and the brand, and the quality, and the materials, and where it was made, and all those sorts of things go into calculating the cost of this item. How much did it cost to make? How much are people trying to make in return? But when you get right down to the, the bare basics of trying to come up with a cost value, I'm reminded of something that my granddad said My family has owned 660 acres out in West Texas for years and years and years.

We own the mineral rights and so forth, which is a shame because there's no oil at all on any of that land, right? Doesn't do us any good to own that. There is a little water. That's almost as valuable sometimes, sometimes of the year. But through the years, my granddad was asked, you know, what do you think your land's worth?

And I remember him answering one time, Maybe I'm not going to get the words exactly right, but it was something along these lines. Well, it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Anything else is just kind of a guess. And isn't that true? You want to calculate the worth of something, what is somebody willing to pay for it?

That's what these stores do, right? You go in, They put it at a certain price. If people don't pay that price, what do they do? They reduce the price until it comes down to a low enough price that somebody's willing to pay for it. And when somebody's willing to pay for it, that tells you the worth of that item.

Yeah, maybe they could price gouge. Maybe they could have a little bit higher price, whatever the case might be. But what is somebody willing to pay? That's the cost. That's the value. Well, you know where this is going. What was God willing to pay for your soul? Steve did a great job talking about this, didn't he?

That Jesus himself was willing to pay a price, a ransom. That was owed for us, for you, for me, for our soul. 1 Peter chapter 1 and verse 18 says, Knowing that you are not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, as valuable as those things are, they do not pay the price for your soul. From your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

This is the price by which we were redeemed. This is the value of your soul and everyone else's soul. And so we think about the most precious price that could be paid. Would it not be the blood of the Son of God? Now those are probably the two ways of calculating value and value of the soul that are most familiar to us.

But as I've been thinking about this over the last couple of weeks or so I realized that there are a couple of other ways that we see in our Bibles and that we just acknowledge as we go through life. that might be helpful to us in illustrating the value or worth of our soul. We might calculate the worth of our soul as we think about demand value.

In terms of supply and demand, what is the demand for your soul? You know something is really valuable when everyone, including all sorts of different kinds of people from different walks of life, Want and value the same sorts of things by illustration. I give you two companies Carhartt and Stanley two brands now desired by almost everyone from blue collar Workers to celebrities from your grandpa to your teenage daughter Everybody wants these two brands and that's people on kind of the opposite ends of the spectrum, right?

somebody working on a ranch and some singer in Hollywood and You think about the ends of the spectrum, that's about as wide as you can cast a net. And everybody wants these products from these two companies. In fact, over the course of just a few years, from 2019 to 2023, Stan Lee sales went from 73 million in 2019 to more than 750, 000, 000 in 2023.

Just by curiosity, who owns a Stanley mug of any kind? Who has owned a Stanley mug of any kind? Well, you can look around and you can see the diversity of people who own that product. Basically, everybody desires it. So let's make spiritual application. Who desires your soul? Who wants your soul? Who would, who would love to have your soul?

Well, the two most opposite ends of the spectrum possible, right? From God and righteousness and that desire for your soul, and sin and the devil and his desire for your soul. I ran across this quote from Spurgeon that I think summarizes it well. Consider how precious a soul must be when both God and the devil are after it.

And we see some passages certainly that communicate this idea to us. We think about Genesis chapter 3 when When the devil comes into the garden, the serpent is there in the garden, more cunning than anything that God had created. And yes, the devil desires for Adam and Eve to be separated from God, for their souls to no longer have this fellowship with God.

And then we see after they sin in Genesis chapter 4 that Cain and Abel are separated because of sin and the temptations of the devil. We see that Abel was a man who was a shepherd and Cain was a man who was a farmer. And in verse 3 it says, And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.

Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but he did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?

And if you do not do well, notice, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. The desire of sin personified here, and certainly we think about Satan in those terms, Its desire is for you. There is a desire there from the devil for your soul. I'll admit, I don't have a good grasp, a good understanding.

It's difficult for me to rationalize and think through the motivations of the devil. As I think about it, maybe that's a good thing, right? I don't want to understand the devil too well. But it's difficult for me to understand the motivations of the devil. Why? Why does he do the things that he does? Why did he rebel against God to begin with?

But we know some things about him, that he's the deceiver, that he is the accuser against us before God, just as he did with Job in the book of Job. We think about him as our adversary, our enemy, that he is against us, that he's the tempter and more, but ultimately the devil's desire is to destroy us, to destroy our soul, to bring us down with him to his level for whatever reason.

In 1 Peter chapter 5 and verse 8, Peter presses it this way, Be sober, be diligent, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. As much as God desires our soul, as much as God was willing to send his son, as the price to buy our soul, the devil desires our soul as well.

So when we think about the demand on our soul from God himself to the devil himself, There is this desire for you and for your soul. And of course, only God desires only what is good for your soul. But seeing this reality perhaps helps us to see our soul's value. and act accordingly. And then finally, number four, there is a sentimental value for us to consider as it relates to our soul.

It's worth more to you or some people than someone else because of the connection that you have to the item, right? So that's sentimental value. There's some story behind this. There's some emotion behind this that makes it more valuable to you then perhaps it would be to somebody else. So, by way of example My big red truck, Big Red, aptly named, right?

That I used to have for many, many years was my grandfather's truck. It was the bright red Chevy three quarter ton HD that I drove for many, many years. Many of you saw me driving that truck. That truck held its value really well. It had lots of It had lots of features that people wanted. It was great for towing.

It had the twist down fifth wheel that you could bring up for towing a trailer, a gooseneck trailer, or a camper, that sort of thing. And it had been really, really well taken care of. And so, uh, I, I knew that it was probably had a lot of life left in it, but I was, I was afraid that maybe we were going to reach a point where we're trying to replace two vehicles at one time.

Didn't want to get in that position. So I started thinking about selling my truck and it took me two years to finally reach a point where I was able to pick something else out to buy and, and I looked up the Kelly Blue Book value of that pickup at that time and it was, it was about 12, 000 is, is worth quite a bit.

They offered me some pretty high trade ins on that at a number of different places, and I, I just couldn't do it. But, I don't know if any man needs two trucks, but I certainly, as a preacher, don't need two pickups. Some would make the argument I don't need one. But, it was difficult for me to sell this because of the sentimental value.

I would get in the truck, and if I hadn't run the AC in a long time, it was silly. It would smell like West Texas, that West Texas dust was still in there. It reminded me of home, right? And I'd look in the back every time I got in, and it's got that Jibo's toolbox in the back that my granddad put in there.

And I'd be reminded of all the times I spent with my granddad, and the times we spent even in that truck. And so, it was really hard to sell it. So, I finally sold it. I finally sold it to my nephew. For much, much less than the blue book value of that vehicle. And they had only had it a little while.

When he was hit by a drunk driver. And that big red truck saved his life, and my sister in law's life, and my next oldest nephew's life.

What is the worth of that vehicle to me? The sentimental value means that it's worth a whole lot more than some price that you could put on it because of the emotion behind it, because of the story behind it, because of the connection behind it. How do you calculate the extra value of that, of that relationship, of that connection?

Just very quickly I'll give you another story. I I have a watch that I received when I graduated graduate school. It was worth a couple hundred dollars when it was bought and Stephanie and my in laws bought it for me as a present from graduate school as a citizen, echo drive. I don't like jewelry jewelry bothers me and so I have to have stuff that's really light.

It's made of titanium, so I can't even feel it on my wrist. Which is a great thing until I go and jump on the pool and I forget that it's there after having it for 15 years. And I guess the seal had gotten where it wasn't totally tight. Stephanie points out to me, Hey, you're still wearing your watch.

I get out and it's filled with water. And so I take it in to the jewelry store where we, where it was bought. And I say, Hey, I want to send this off to have it fixed. And he looks at it and he says, Oh man, it's not going to be worth it to fix it. You might as well just buy a new one. And I punched him in the face.

No, no, I didn't do that. Of course I didn't do that. But I was upset about it. What's the, what's the disconnect there? It has value to me beyond what it has value to him because he's only seeing the cost value. I see the greater value of everything that that watch means to me, right? Have you ever thought about what you mean to God in those terms?

How special, how special you are to Him. You know, that's the word that's used in 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 9, but you are a chosen generation. God, God chose you. You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people. You may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into marvelous light.

That same sort of phraseology is found in Titus chapter two, but it gives us a better picture of what we're talking about as God considers your value and mind the value of our soul. And just as an aside, as you're turning there, I'm using soul a competitively to refer to our spirit, the spiritual part of us.

And I think you understand that. And what do we see there in Titus chapter two, beginning in verse 11? For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. God loves us and he's given us his grace, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust. We should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed.

And purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works. God redeems us, not in some heartless, impartial, but not in some heartless, disconnected sort of way. God redeems us personally. He knows you. He knows your soul. And he knows the spirit of every person who's ever lived. And he died so that you might live, so that you might be purified as his own special people.

You're special to God. You are set apart among his creation of all of the physical things that are made and all of the spiritual things that are made, including the angels and the heavenly host. Human beings are set aside as special. Which means you have a value beyond what can be calculated on a ledger.

It goes into what is felt, what is known, and what is loved. And in some ways, this is an even greater value. And just how some people don't understand, you know, well, why is that truck worth so much to you? Or why is that watch worth so much to you? I don't understand because I don't know all of those things.

There are lots of people who don't understand the value. The value of a soul to God, but God knows, and God seeks to express that value to you in a way that you can understand. So, as we bring all of these things to a conclusion, as we think about these four ways that we might calculate the worth of a soul, how do we express all four of these values at the same time?

And I struggled with that in thinking about ways that we express these things. That's tough, isn't it? Maybe a car that's special to us, or a pet, or a souvenir, or a piece of memorabilia that has some other value beyond just what we place on it. But I think maybe the best example The value of these four things is the value of someone that you dearly love, a child, a spouse.

Who here, I'm just curious, who here has ever heard the name Kenneth Feinberg before? Has anybody heard the name Kenneth Feinberg? Just a couple of hands. That's a name of some obscurity. I had not heard that name either until just recently, but shortly after 9 11, Kenneth Feinberg was appointed as a special counsel by the Bush administration to administer The Federal 9 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

This was the unique, at the time, unprecedented fund that was established by Congress to, to compensate in a financial way those families who lost a loved one on 9 11 or survivors who were physically injured in the attacks. And so there was this huge sum of money that was going to be set aside in order to pay these people.

But how much do you pay them? Do you pay everybody the same? Do you pay the janitor the same as the CEO? Do you pay somebody at the end of their life the same as somebody at the beginning of their life? Do you pay someone who has a family the same as someone who doesn't have a family? How do you calculate all of those things?

Well, that's tough! And Kenneth Feinberg volunteered to work pro bono in order to try and figure out those things and pay off these people. And he wrote a book about his experience. Three years he worked on this. And the book is appropriately entitled, What Is Life Worth? And maybe you've heard about it, how I heard about it more recently, it became a movie starring Michael Keaton called, Worth.

It's a startling question. What is life worth? How do you put a number on that? And it was a difficult question for those both working on the fund and then the families who were going to be compensated from the fund to answer. Especially in light of all of the emotions that were so raw that were involved in that.

Asking how much something like that, a person, costs, it seems almost insulting, doesn't it? And many of the 9 11 families thought that too. To many of them, no check, no matter how large, was worth the loss of their loved one.

And oh, I wish to God that we could have the same mentality spiritually.

That there is no thing in this world, no amount of money large enough, no amount of power strong enough, no amount of pleasure nice enough,

for us to exchange a soul for it.

All four of those costs are involved, thinking about a child, or a loved one, in Luke chapter 15, aren't they? In that account of the prodigal son. Do you see how the son's value is calculated? It's calculated comparatively in this text that Whether or not he came back to try and be a servant, whatever the son said, he was still a son.

He was not a servant. He was worth more to the father than a servant. He was worth more than that. There was a physical cost to the father, wasn't there? There was the cost of him giving him his inheritance early, and him wasting all of that, and then giving him much more when he returned. There was a cost there.

And yes, there was a demand. Both the far country and the father desired this young man. But only one could have him. There was a shortage of supply. Only one soul that could only be had by one. And yes, there was some sentimental value. The father felt something. He had compassion. He had love. And he fell, and he ran, and fell on the neck of his son, and kissed him from that compassion.

And he cries out. He cries out, this my son. was dead and is alive, was lost and is found. And you can feel, you can feel in that passage the worth of that one soul to the Father. And that, brothers and sisters, that, loved ones, is the value that God has for every one of us. Every one of us

have the value. of a son or daughter to our God. That's the way God sees the soul. And maybe sometimes we fall short of that. And seeing that in ourselves, seeing that in others, perhaps like the older brother, I fear somehow we look, we look at other souls and we look down on them. I know I'm guilty of that sometimes.

Annoyance sometimes is my biggest temptation. That people sometimes just annoy me. How can you be so

And yet every fool who ever walked the face of this earth was loved and valued by a God who wanted so desperately for that fool to wake up from his or her foolishness and come back to Him that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And if we can see souls like God sees souls, our own and others, what a difference it can make in us. What a difference if we can calculate the worth of a soul.

If you're here this morning, that's the question we always ask and people start putting their stuff up. You are here this morning, whether live or on the streaming. Perhaps you're watching this on recording and you're not here this morning. But if you're here this morning, we say, well, if you're here this morning, you know what?

You have a soul, and that soul is of value to God. And God desires for you to come in humble submission to Christ, the one that He sent to be that sacrifice for you, the one who paid the price. Won't you come? Won't you see the value of your own soul and come in humble submission to God, putting Christ on in baptism to rise to walk in newness of life?

For where your treasure is?

May you value it, and may you act accordingly. And if we can help you with that, even this morning, come now, while together we stand and while we sing.