By Mike Dawson
Interim Pastor, Santa Fe Baptist Church, Santa Fe
Two mischievous boys hid away in a large department store at closing time. They didn’t steal anything during the night; they just changed the price tags on hundreds of items. When the store opened, customers were surprised to see an item that had been $5.99 now had a price tag of $49.99; something that was $150 now had a sticker price of two dollars! That is exactly what Satan has done in our culture: he has cunningly changed the “price tag” — the value — on just about everything. Things that once were considered valuable are now “sold” cheap, and items of no real lasting value are held in high regard. Human life, for example, was once sacred and precious; today’s world has greatly underestimated it. Purity, modesty, and courtesy are things that once were treasured, but now are often disregarded and even mocked.
It’s very fitting in our study of Acts that we pause to consider the sanctity of life. An incident took place in one of the stories we recently studied on Paul and Silas’ missions trip to Philippi, reminding us to value all persons. An accompanying Scripture from Psalm 139 expands that reminder.
Acts 16:16, De-valued. This slave girl is a picture of many people today: victims of human trafficking, persons caught up in prostitution, the porn industry, or abusive sexual treatment. We also think of those who’ve encountered unwanted (and unwarranted) sexual advances. Rape and sexual mistreatment are rampant in every level of society. There are always scumbags like these slaveowners who devalue others, seeing them only as a way to satisfy themselves.
Acts 16:17-19, Re-valued. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope for the hopeless, victory for the victims. Even in the midst of annoying experiences, we who know Christ can help people get delivered from devilish, demonic lifestyles. Paul called on a Name greater than human trafficking, greater than Satan himself. The demonic spirit inside this poor woman recognized that the missionaries were serving God Most High, and were proclaiming the true gospel. I remember a phrase from Leonard Ravenhill that always convicted me: “Known in Hell.” The Apostle Paul was well-known by the demons — because he’d been casting them out in Jesus’ name! Now this slave girl, highly valuable to God, was set free; she was truly re-valued! Whatever you — or those you love — have been caught up in, because of someone else’s choices or your own, remember the truth of an old hymn title about Jesus: “He is Able to Deliver Thee!”
Paul and his missions team learned that “deliverance” ministry can be costly; they were thrown into prison by the profiteers of human trafficking who saw their ill-gotten gains fleeing with the demons. Helping others get free is expensive; it could cost your time, your money, your comfort, your everything.
Psalm 139:13-16, “He-valued.” These verses declare that our God values life. An older pastor was walking through the streets of London. The kind British minister saw a young woman — obviously a prostitute — waiting to be picked up. He asked her, “How much?” She quickly told him her “fee.” He said, “That’s not near enough. You’re worth much more than that, dear.” The sinful, the “good,” the unborn, the child, the aged, the dying: God values all! Remember that you are valuable to Him — precious, wonderful, beautiful! B&R