Is loving your neighbor a worthwhile investment?

“To love someone means to see him as God intended him.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

If you have ever purchased a house, you might have questioned what determines the house’s price. What factors are considered? Could it be the age, size, features, curb appeal, or updates? Is it something else entirely? A licensed appraiser or real estate agent is a good person to consult on determining the value of a home, but what are the factors that go into knowing the value of a person? And who is licensed to make that determination? The answer should be simple, but it’s not.  

How do you see others? 

The reality is that we do, sometimes, look at people the same way we look at houses. We look at the age and history, good or bad. We look at the qualities and what needs to be repaired or updated. We take the curb appeal into consideration, when applicable. We compare people to one another or to ourselves. We use all of these as an equation to determine if a person is worth an investment of time, energy and respect. The value of a home is based on what the home can do for you, but the value of a person should not have that same unit of measure. Scripture is clear about our value, and it is no equation at all: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).

Who does our value come from?  

Our value comes from God Himself. If we took away our history of choices, good and bad, would God love us more or less? No. If we looked better or worse, would God love us more or less? No. If we chose a different career path, had more or fewer kids, would God love us more or less? No. The list continues, but God knows us and still loves each of us. There is nothing we can do, or someone else can do to us, that can make us less worthy of His love. As His followers, that is how we are called to see all men, women, and children regardless of their faith, history, actions and choices.

Some people don’t seem valuable 

It can be easy to forget that particular people in our lives do have value and are worthy of love, especially those who have wronged us. It is a struggle for me to love someone who has hurt me or hurt someone I love, or even disagrees with me on moral issues that hurt others. In those relationships, God gives me opportunities to love like He did, on the cross. It is easy to love my daughter, who is an absolute delight, or the person at the Dairy Queen who gives me extra Reese’s at no cost, but it is selfish to only love people who love you. Someone once called those who are hardest to love the “saint makers” that God gives to help us grow. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!” Luke 6:32 (NLT).

You are worthy of love, too 

There is nothing more loving than walking in the truth of the Gospel, and that means that you are so valuable that the God of the universe died for you (John 3:16). “Your value does not decrease based on somebody’s inability to see your worth” (Unknown). As Christians who feel called to “turn the other cheek” and “love your neighbor as yourself,” we can forget that God wants us to love ourselves, too. Loving a person can mean the exact opposite of reaching out and being there for a person; it can mean recognizing your own value and walking away. 

Created for love 

Throughout Scripture, God invites us to remove any deal-breakers or non-negotiables from our criteria on how we see others. Instead, He calls us to see the value in all people, including ourselves. The devaluing of persons is not unique to a creed, race or nation, as Ronald Reagan points out: “Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value.” As Catholics, we have a responsibility to protect life in all of its stages, with all its history, and no matter what that life can do for us. St. Joseph, pray for us in this endeavor to always see the value in one another. 

Mary Morasso is a mother and parishioner of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights. She holds a bachelor's degree in pastoral theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and has taught theology at the high school level.