Focal Passage: Genesis 9:1-7; Proverbs 24:10-12; Philippians 2:12-16a
We live in a day when the value of human life is loudly discussed. From political talk shows to coffee shops, everyone has opinions about hot button issues like abortion or euthanasia.
As believers, we have to take up a biblical stance on these issues, but we must do more than just add our voice to the debate. This week’s Sunday School lesson focuses upon three different Scripture passages in seeking to define the Biblical value of human life. In Genesis 9:1-7 the author of our lesson focuses upon the family and marriage. Then in Proverbs 24:10-12 and Philippians 2:12-16, he urges us to take action to protect human life. In between these passages, the author uses the text of Psalms 8:4-8 to help define what the value of human life means. It is this passage I want to focus on.
In Psalm 8:5 we read this amazing statement, “You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.” I grew up hearing this verse quoted as it is in Hebrews 2:7. There it reads “You made him a little less than the angels.” The Hebrew word in Psalm 8 is “Elohim,” one of the prominent Hebrew names for God. The idea of considering myself to be just a little lower than God struck me as either arrogant or ignorant. Who would make such a claim? Well, the Bible does.
You may feel like I did, that a status of just below God is too much. I adopted such a view of myself because I know me. I know how far my character is from God’s character. How could I imagine that I am anywhere close to God in value?
Made by God in His image. In Genesis 9:6 (as well as Genesis 1:26-27) we are reminded that man is made in the image of God. This raises two key issues to wrestle with. First, we are made by God. In the whole creation account we read that after God created, he called it good. God does not make mistakes and since He made humanity we can conclude that no human life is a mistake or “accident.”
The second issue is that we are made to bear the image of God. All creation gives evidence of the Creator’s great hand, but humanity bears the image of the Creator. Since humanity is made in the image of God, the value of human life is in direct relationship with the God whose image we bear. Defining those two key elements concerning the value of human life affects our actions in some very practical ways.
Made to reflect His character. If people are made in the image of God, then no one should be treated as an object. There are many issues where viewing people as made in the image of God as opposed to an object would change the nature of the debate. But, consider this one. How should you treat the people who get under your skin? They may be obstinate, difficult, and seem to take delight in upsetting our plans and days. Our natural reaction is to view them as enemies and begin to plot their demise. But they are made in the image of God as well.
One of the titles for Satan is “the accuser.” If we do not see difficult people as made in the image of God, then it becomes so easy to slander, attack, and tear them down. Thus we begin to do the work of Satan, our real enemy, for him. We cannot say we value human life and yet degrade others who disagree with us.
— Davis is senior pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, Ohio.