Value vs Worth

Far be it from me to attempt to analyze the intricacies of the language I have attempted to master from the day I first recognized that those noises coming from people’s mouths meant something. This is not a doctoral thesis or a peer reviewed submission to some publication only read by elite English scholars. This is just my take on the rather confusing construction of the language I call my mother tongue.

Stay in your own lane.

Logic would dictate that each word would have its own meaning so that communicating a thought would be simple and precise. If this language I use accomplished this task and nothing more I would be elated. Sadly, I am not even able to communicate the foundation of Christ following without using a word that also describes how I feel about my wife and steak, my pets and children, my parents and my Saviour. There is only one word for love and yet it can mean so many different things. One word, multiple meanings, but in other cases there are two or more words that have almost the same meaning – who made up this language anyway?

Do these two words mean the same thing?

Value and worth are often used interchangeably and are often understood as having the same or very similar meanings. I will not debate the English scholars and I will not correct people who do not agree with the meaning I assign to these words, mostly because I would lose, but I will try to maintain peace and avoid violence between the heavily armed and easily provoked protectors of the integrity of the Queen’s English (words are weapons) and myself. Please read the following disclaimer:

The views and opinions contained in this post are solely those of this blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of people much smarter than him.

What is the difference between the words value and worth?

As I see it, value is assigned by the creator, worth is assigned by the end user.

Let’s say you are in a public bathroom, you’ve done what you came to do so you wash your hands and move over to the hand dryer. Something looks out of place; the cover doesn’t seem to be quite right. You give it a push to see if that will put it into place but instead it falls off revealing a timer, some wires and explosives. There is only two minutes left, not enough time to clear the building, so you call 911. They put you through to the bomb squad. After you send them a photo of the bomb, they ask if you have a slot screwdriver. You reach in your pocket and pull out a ten dollar bill and a dime. What is the value of each? The bill is ten dollars, the coin is ten cents. What are they worth? The ten dollar bill is worthless in this situation but the dime can be used as a slot screwdriver to defuse the bomb. Value and worth are not the same.

Now let’s say you are pumping gas. You try to stop the pump at ten dollars but you go over by ten cents. You want to get on with your day but when you reach into your pocket all you have is a ten dollar bill. You search and search but cannot find a dime anywhere. On your way in to plead for a ten cent discount, you find a dime on the ground. The value of each is based on what the government assigned to them but to you they have equal worth because regardless of which one you have, you need both to pay for the gas if you want to get on with your day.

Do you live life based on your value or your worth?

Value is assigned by the creator, worth is assigned by the end user. Value is stable, worth is in constant flux.

Most of us live our lives in the ever changing realm of worth. In the same way we would rank a restaurant or movie experience, we rank our lives. If I like what happened it was worth it; if I like myself I have worth. Some days we achieve far beyond our own expectations while others we would have been more successful if we stayed in bed.

A fight between friends or a gift that is appreciated, a misjudgement when applying the brakes or a drive through a snowstorm that ends safely, a promotion or a dismissal, a kind word or a sharp retort, all things that can build up our self-worth or destroy it based on how the end user, the person who experiences it, is left feeling.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Roman 5:8 (NIV)

Value is assigned by the creator, worth is assigned by the end user. Value is stable, worth is in constant flux.

We are created in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of His son, bought at a price that far exceeds anything we can pay.  We are not saved by our own works but by faith in Jesus Christ and we are not loved based on how lovable we are. We were and we are sinners, in other words we are worthless, but God didn’t offer us salvation based on our worth. Our creator assigned such high value to His creation that He was willing to show mercy and grace in the face of our worthlessness.

There is nothing you can do to make you worth enough so that God will love you.

There is nothing you can do to lower your value so that God will not love you.

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