Is there such a thing as a worthless person? I can think of a few professions that are worthless like drug dealer and television pundit. But to call an individual worthless is hard because we are all created in God’s image. We all have worth even drug dealers and television talking heads have families that need them and love them. Yet the word of God unceremoniously tells me that there are people who are truly worthless.
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12 ESV
These sons of Eli were the active priests serving in God’s presence for sacrifices being brought by the Israelites. God calls these men worthless. They were not worthless because they were born outside of a privileged cast. They were not worthless because they were the “wrong” ethnic group, culture, or skin color. To call anyone worthless because of these temporal and earthly reasons would be a sin against a fellow human. These men are worthless in their service to God and his laws. And that is the danger we all face. That God our creator might call us worthless because of our sins and rebellion against what God has called true. They are a warning to the reader. What is worthless is ultimately destroyed by fire.
But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:8 ESV
Eli’s sons were evil because they abused their power over the people to enrich themselves. In the older King James, the translation calls Eli’s sons בְּלִיַּעַל (Belial or bel·e·yah’·al) which means worthless, lawless, or wicked. Eli’s sons were much more than worthless they were worthless servants of Satan who is the father of worthlessness.
12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12 KJV
Worth is defined as something desirable and useful. From God’s perspective if we are pursuing our own selfish desires we are not of worth. If we are following our own laws made by our selfish desires then we are not of worth. They are worthless to God because they do not believe in Him. Paul uses the word Belial to contrast the life lived apart from Christ. Righteousness vs lawlessness. Light vs darkness. Believer in Christ vs unbeliever. There is no middle ground.
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV
Jesus is perfectly worthy because he is unselfish even unto death. Jesus is of perfect worth because he perfectly fulfilled the laws of God. Because of Christ and his gift, we have an opportunity to be reconciled and shed the worthlessness nature of our sins. We can avoid the death that comes to worthless men like Eli’s sons. We can find life in Christ by giving ourselves to him and his perfect worth.
38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39 ESV