The Value of Values Sermon Series at Harbor Church
Sermon for 9/16/18 at Harbor Church
Pastor Peter Preiser
Title: The Value of Values
Proverbs 2:1-11 My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, (2) making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; (3) if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; (4) if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures-- (5) then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (6) For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; (7) he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, (8) guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his faithful ones. (9) Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; (10) for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; (11) prudence will watch over you; and understanding will guard you.
Luke 6:43-45 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; (44) for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. (45) The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Do you remember Highlights Magazine for Children? Parents and kids have been enjoying that publication for over 70 years. My favorite was always the Hidden Pictures Page. They just released the 2019 Book Sets containing nothing but Hidden Pictures! Gotta get me one of them! Of course they have them for adults now, too. Like the Where’s Waldo” books. Why do we like them? The delight of discovery after working hard to find something. That is what I’d like for us to do together in the next couple of months. To dig down deeply in a process of discovering what we value most. To seek out and then clarify those principles for living that we treasure above all else. Our scripture readings today speak about these things in terms of treasure, and , to mix metaphors, the fruits that come from Godly, or goodly treasures, from those things that we value most in our lives.
So let’s begin by thinking a little bit about “The Value of Values:”
- What does God value?
- What do We value?
- How can Our values…
Transform us as individuals?
Inform the decisions that we make as a church?
Reform the world in which we live?
The gospels of Matthew and Luke both say “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Let’s begin a treasure hunt!
I’d like to begin by examining the First question:, What does God value? In the opening meditation in our worship bulletin today, we began our service by reflecting on the verse from the creation account in Genesis: God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it w`as very good. Genesis 1:31
If we wish to begin to evaluate what is most important to us, we can take a cue or a hint from what is important to the Lord our God. We read that God values all that He has made. He values you, and you are precious in God’s sight. I believe that there is little that matters more to God than our relationship with Him, and our relationships with one another. God also treasures the whole world that He has made with all its flora and fauna, its ecosystems, its climates and diverse environs. If people and plants and animals are close to the heart of God, then maybe we can learn to value you them in the same way.
So how do we begin to explore this further? Our first reading says,
if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, … if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasures-- (5) then you will find the knowledge of God. … (9) Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good [path for living].
So, we can discover meaningful values in life, time truths, universal norms, eternal principles in the counsel of God’s Holy Word. But, this don’t just jump off the page at us, we need to search it out, like treasure hunters diving on a wreck.
Evan Kovacs wrote an essay entitled, The Art of Shipwreck Hunting
In it, he says there are at least 3 key ingredients to find sunken ships and the riches they contain: What is needed, he says, is patience, thoroughness, and persistence. I think these are the same qualities necessary for finding values in God’s word.
Hunting for shipwrecks begins in the library. Studying historical documents to pin point the location of possible hidden treasure troves. The word Bible means books, it is a mini-library of 66 books on truth and wisdom. If we want to seek out the Biblical values, we need to spend time opening the pages of scripture and exploring them in earnest.
Treasure hunters also thoroughly explore a wreck once its found before ever diving on it. They use all kinds of technology like sonar, magnetic detectors, and remotely operated vehicles with cameras. As you and I search the scriptures, we have many resources available to help us in our endeavor. Study Bibles with helps, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and Bible commentaries can all help us dig in and find what we are looking for in our library of hidden treasures.
Finally, if we persist in our efforts, like successful treasure hunters, what will we find? What will be the reward of our efforts? We will find principles for right living, guidelines for how to love God better, how to improve our relationships with our neighbors, and we will gain insights into how to find fulfillment and purpose in life. The rewards of our treasure hunt will be a life well-lived. Friends, this is worth pursuing!
But how will we know if we have found the real deal, that we’ve struck genuine gold and not some pretty counterfeit. Our second reading from Luke says:
each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. (45) The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces what is good.
We evaluate the values that we seek to incorporate into our lives but looking at the fruit that they produce. Are our diligent efforts in seeking Godly values producing a good crop of healthy fruit? Refinements in our character, good works, and positive impact on those around us. We had dinner with some friends earlier this week, and learned about Bela’s gold. Carrie and I first thought this was a new type of beefsteak tomato! We quickly learned that it was the fertilizer that gardeners here use to cultivate the tomatoes, to produce a good harvest. Friends, if we are fertilizing our hearts with the right stuff, good stuff will come out of our hearts. And we will know that we have found real gold, real treasure in the values that we have discovered in God and God’s word.
But it doesn’t stop here:
In an article on Core Christian Values , by Brian Edgar, Director of Theology and Public policy for the Evangelical Alliance, he writes:
Christians, sometimes assume that their values are for the church alone and they have no expectation that society will adopt them or be interested in them. But there are others who want to bridge that gap between church and world and to bring to society what the church has to offer. They have a conviction that there are values which are not just personal and not just for the community of faith, but which are of value for society as a whole. These values are theologically and biblically derived and they are capable of being explored at various levels of meaning or significance, including in ways appropriate for the wider community. They are principles for life, for relationships, for public life and even for legislation. This begins to scratch the surface of our 3rd question, how our values can impact our world.
So we’ve begun our journey together. And we’ve started by thinking about how seeking out the right values, God’s values, can Transform us as individuals. Inform the decisions that we make as a church, And ultimately Reform the world in which we live. For each one of the next 8 weeks, we will focus on one core Biblical value and how it can change our lives and reshape our world. Next Sunday we will consider the value of GRACE, of Receiving and Giving more than is deserved. I’ll see you next Sunday, and we’ll continue our treasure hunt together! Amen.