This morning on the one-year anniversary of the world’s worst oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I was listing to a CBC Radio 1 interview with Kenneth Fineberg, who is also known as the “pay czar” for British Petroleum’s US$20 billion compensation fund for those hurt by that environmental disaster. Fineberg, a legal specialist in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, was previously the Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund a decade ago and wrote a book about his experience called “What is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.”
So, how does Mr. Fineberg place a value on a human life? Well, it’s all fairly cut and dried being mostly numbers and statistics: A) Determine how much the person was making at the time of his or her death B) Estimate how many more years could that person reasonably have been expected to continue earning such money. C) Multiply A x B + something for “pain and suffering,” and voilà, you get a sum printed off on a compensation cheque.
Of course, the party or parties who suffered the loss of their loved one can always sue and try to make the case for a higher figure. But you’re going to have to convince the judge and the jury, dollar-wise. For most people, the high legal costs for such a run through the “justice” system makes accepting the pay czar’s formula fixing the life-value of their loved one the only rational choice—even if the final figure seems low and cold.
So, have you ever stopped to figure out what YOUR life is worth? Or, maybe even, what is all human life on this entire planet worth? To most people the logical answer would have to be: “utterly priceless” or “more than the total sum of all the money and things of value in the world.” I mean, how else could you figure such enormous present and potential value?
Actually, someone once working in a capacity like a “pay czar” did put a value on all humanity’s redemptive value in monetary terms. The amount was equal to what it would cost to hire the average, full-time workingman for 120 days. In 2007 U.S. dollars this would be $22,560 in Canada or about $31,680 in the United States or $26,688 in Germany or only $16,992 in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. That was the value of 30 pieces of silver in A.D. 30.
When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me” (Matthew 27:1-10 New King James Version).
The value of Jesus’ life to his Father was priceless. But for the lawyers and compensation specialists of 2,000 years ago, 30 pieces of silver was enough. So, what is YOUR life worth?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
So don’t place a low value on your life. You are worth more than any lawyer or accountant could imagine. As the Apostle Peter said,
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19-19 NKJV).
If you would like to hear more about your worth to God and the value of human life check out my messages “Preparing for the Passover” and “Spirit of Service” posted on http://cogwebcast.com/