James Strickland of Greensboro, North Carolina was in the news recently. He routinely purchases state lottery tickets from a local convenience store. James is also in the habit of immediately discarding those tickets he believes to be losers. After scratching away the coating to expose the numbers, he throws the losing tickets on the floor of his truck. Fortunately, James is also in the habit of rechecking these tickets at the end of each week.
It was during one of these “rechecks” that James discovered he had thrown away a winning ticket. He cashed-in the $1 million ticket and – after taxes and other fees – collected $423,014.
Now, I am no advocate for any form of gambling. My step-father gambled compulsively and our family suffered greatly from his addiction. Plus, I just don’t see the sense of patronizing a vendor that schemes and works toward my failure. Its goal is to take my money and give nothing in return. In the case of the lottery, the vendor prints millions of worthless, losing tickets as mere smoke – to shroud a few winners – which the vendor hopes I’ll miss.
I only mention this story to illustrate how we tend to view our fellow human beings as losing lottery tickets. We quickly dismiss their significance and value. We readily throw them away. Perhaps because of their sheer numbers, we have this mistaken notion that the vast majority of people are purposeless and worthless. There’s so many. How could they all have any significance or importance?
But sheer numbers reflect nothing about our value to God. No matter how many we may be, our sheer numbers can never overwhelm an infinite God. No matter how big the world’s population becomes, God is always infinitely bigger than the whole of humanity.
Besides, compared to most living things, humans are rather rare. For instance, scientists estimate that there are between 200-400 billion birds living in the earth. That number eclipses the 7.6 billion human beings. Yet Jesus assures us that God is very concerned about each and every bird. How much more each and every human (Matthew 6:26; 10:29-31)?
Jesus also stated that God cares for the grass of the field by watering it and clothing it with flowers (Matthew 6:28-30). Yet one source has calculated that there are 418 million blades of grass for every human being. Doesn’t it make sense that if caring for every plant of grass does not overwhelm God, than loving and caring for every human being will not overwhelm him either?
No. We are not like losing lottery tickets. God didn’t just make us to be “extras” in an epic movie crowd while He focuses on the true stars. God creates every one of us in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6). Therefore, we should never dismiss or discard ourselves or others. All people are to be honored and loved (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Romans 12:10).
Nor does God not make any losers – to be decoys for the benefit of the winners. God only makes winners. As a result, every human being He brings into this world is designed for a specialized purpose and has a divinely appointed place in this world. Look at what King David wrote in the Psalms.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:13-16).
God does not mass-produce people for such a purposeless existence as losing lottery tickets. Nor does God create people to be stepped-on, corralled, and used for the selfish purposes of another. And He certainly doesn’t mass-produce people as playthings or as cannon fodder. God specially creates every human being that He might love, cherish, and know them personally.
Dear Father in heaven, please reveal to me the love You have for me and for the whole of humanity. Help me to grasp the height, the depth, the length, and the breadth of Your love that transcends all human understanding. And help me to share this love with others. Amen.
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