The Value of a Soul

The human soul is a worthless, intrinsically ugly object in and of itself. It is dead, damaged, broken, and filthy. In light of humanity, it is utterly valueless. But from God’s perspective, the soul of an individual is precious and beautiful. The soul is the innermost part of a person. It is their essence. It is the true “self.” In the Bible, the word “soul” is used over 400 times; and many of those times, if you read the verses, an individual is referring to himself as a soul. Abraham wanted Sarah to lie about being his sister so that “my soul shall live” (Genesis 12:13); Isaac desired that Esau would bring him savory meat so that “my soul may bless thee before I die” (Genesis 27:4); in the Psalms, David prays that God would deliver his soul from the sword (Psalm 22:20); and the bride of Solomon joyfully announced that she had “found him whom my soul loveth” (Song of Solomon 3:4). These are just a few examples of how cognizant people were that, as someone (debatably C.S. Lewis) has said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” And yet, so few today are in touch with this part of themselves. In the beginning, God created the fleshy shell of a man, then breathed the soul into his nostrils. He was perfect and lovely, and fulfilled the purpose for which God had created him— intimate fellowship. The Creator of heaven had a creature who resembled Himself, who could commune with Him and return the love which He lavished upon the man. The soul was different and beautiful because it was made in the likeness of God— unseen, yet thinking and feeling and filled with love and beauty. God loved the soul. But sin, with all its vileness, corrupted that entity that God loved, causing a sharp separation and enmity. God was grieved to be rejected by His favorite creation, and set in motion a plan to regain what was rightfully His. He manifested Himself to mankind by becoming one of them in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life as a human man, and then died to bear the wrath of sin for the whole of mankind, past, present, and future. And then He rose again to draw these souls into God’s love. God has gone through so much for souls; because of this, the question must be asked: what is a human soul truly worth? A soul is worth God’s love. He created human beings with a soul that reflected His image (Genesis 1:26). He proclaims His everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); and His love for people is very clear throughout Scripture (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Isaiah 38:17, Zephaniah 3:17, John 15:9, etc.). But to grasp how truly special the love of God is, one must first understand how magnificent God Himself is. He is the Creator of the universe (John 1:3); He is the Everlasting One, without beginning

and certainly without end (Isaiah 40:28); He is selfsustaining, needing no rest (Psalm 121:4); He is love (I John 4:8); He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9); He is compassionate (Psalm 86:15); He is the Supreme Judge of the world (Psalm 98:9); He is holy (Psalm 30:4); He reigns over the world (Psalm 47:8); He is the Almighty (Job 37:23); He is just (Job 37:23); He is to be both praised and feared (I Chronicles 16:25). As Dr. S.M. Lockeridge said tongue-in-cheek in his famed message, “That’s My King,” “I wish I could describe Him to you.” That is the God who freely offers His wondrous love to human souls, and for no other reason than because He chooses to so value them. So what is a soul worth? It is worth the incredible love of the Almighty God. And that is an incomprehensible value alone; but what else is a soul worth? A soul is worth God’s life. Once sin entered the world and rooted itself into the very nature of humankind, the sweet fellowship the Creator enjoyed with people was grievously altered. So He became a human man, His Son Jesus Christ. He left His life of glory in heaven; He forsook the radiance of being a spirit, and bound Himself eternally to a human’s body. And the glories of God’s perfect heaven were exchanged for the poverty of the sincursed Earth. He became a helpless infant, needing to have His every need met by in imperfect mother and an imperfect “foster-father.” And He wasn’t born to a queen or someone of nobility; he was born to the teenaged wife of a penniless carpenter! He was born in a filthy stable, and lived in poverty all of His life. When He became an adult man, He was itinerant, and homeless— practically a nomad (Luke 9:58). His life was expended on people, giving of the riches of His power and compassion to the lost souls who thronged Him, and giving of His lack to serve those who had less than He had. His earthly life was devoted to human souls because He believed they were worth His life. As though the love and life of God were not enough, a soul is also worth God’s death. After living among the people of this world for a little over thirty years, Jesus died. But he did not die peacefully— he died a violent, torturous, and humiliating death; He died as befitted the worst kind of criminal. On behalf of those wicked, filthy, lost souls, He surrendered Himself to the brutality of Roman soldiers and the vicious hate of selfrighteous Jews. The flesh of his back and side was shredded until his internal organs were exposed. He was stripped naked and shamed. A crown of long, stinging thorns was crushed into his scalp. The people who had days before cheered for Him and adored Him, now engaged in a frenzied demand for His death. He was compelled to carry the weight of a heavy wooden cross until His weakened form could carry it no longer.

Long, thick nails were pounded through the bundles of nerves nestled in the flesh of his wrists and feet; and as the soldiers dropped the cross into position, every joint in his body was wrenched from its place. And after all of the pain of thorns, lashes, beatings, and dislocated bones, he spent the last hours on that cross suffocating. Every breath was agony as he pulled his mangled body up with the support of the nails that pierced his hands; and each inhale and exhale wracked his body with pangs of torment as he labored to breathe in the air heated by the merciless Middle Eastern sun. But the greatest suffering was the separation from the Heavenly Father. As God poured out wrath for sinners upon the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus cried out from the bitter pain of God separating Himself from God, of a beloved Father abandoning His adored Son. Of course, He also resurrected— alive forevermore so that souls might live through His own life. But before He could resurrect, it was necessary that He die. That is how He died— because to Him, a soul was worth His own death. If a soul is worth the measureless love, the selflimited life, and the barbaric death of God Himself, what more could a soul possibly be worth? A soul is worth my effort. Where I may see a hopeless case, God sees a dying soul. Where I may see a waste of time, God sees the desire of His heart. Where I feel frightened to share the Gospel, God feels the earnest longing for their love. When I claim to be too busy, God reminds me that He has spent eternity preparing for the salvation of that soul, and thirty years as a human being on earth in order to accomplish that goal. What are a few minutes of my time in light of that? When I feel helpless and afraid of rejection, God promises His own power— the same power He desires to give to that other soul, by the way— and has already born that rejection. And when I cannot summon the love or courage required to win that soul, hesitant to obey, He reminds me that His love and courage compelled him to obey, even unto the death. (Philippians 2:8). What other pretext can I conjure? What other excuse can you make? “For the love of Christ constraineth us...” (II Corinthians 5:14). A soul is worth everything. God considered souls so precious that He offered His love, His life, and His death on behalf of them. I should know; I myself have experienced it! Perhaps you have too. It is the only reasonable conclusion, then, that if God places such value on human souls, we ought to as well. A soul is worth my effort, because I was worth that much to God.