What are Human Beings That You Are Mindful of Them?
By Tracy Jessup
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” — Psalm 8:3-4 (NRSV)
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” According to the most recent data published in Bloomberg, the Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a life at $10 million. The Food and Drug Administration declared that life is worth $9.5 million. And the Department of Agriculture has determined that one life is worth $8.9 million (Dave Merrill, “No One Values Your Life More Than the Federal Government,” 10/19/17).
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” Perhaps you never have considered the worth of one human life, whether the life of another or your own life. No doubt, all of us have experienced times when we felt our value was insignificant or overlooked. With everything we have, we often strive to earn and prove our value and significance. But God says we have value and are significant because He made us and we belong to Him. Human life is sacred “from the womb to the tomb” (to borrow a phrase from Shane Claiborne), which is why we should be troubled by the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after pleading for help as a Minneapolis police officer used his knee on Floyd’s neck to pin him – unarmed and handcuffed – to the ground for several minutes. Arbery, a 22-year-old black man, was chased down and killed by two white men while jogging in Georgia.
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” Psalm 8 is a hymn that echoes the account of creation in Genesis. In comparison with the vastness of the creation – the heavens, the moon, and the stars, humanity appears to be insignificant. Yet, the Creator of the universe takes thought of us and cares for us. God has crowned us with glory and honor. We are made in the image of God and appointed as stewards of the world God created.
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” There is awe-inspiring comfort in the message that we matter to God. God takes a personal interest in us. And all we have to do to see the price that He places on the worth of one human life is look to Jesus. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
As followers of Christ, we not only are commissioned to share this good news but also to speak out against injustice. And we pray and work to this end – that the Kingdom of God would come, and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Prayer: Lord, help us to see each person through your eyes, and to value them as one created in your image and for whom Jesus gave His life.
Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.