Wednesday, March 12, 2014
We live in a practical world in which the value of a thing is dependent on its external usefulness or the results it produces.
People are usually hired and paid based on the job they can do. CEOs of large companies get astronomically large signing bonuses and other types of compensations tied to results. They have great utilitarian value.
Some people have greater utilitarian value than others because of what they can do. Their skill, training, education and other experiences enable them to get the kind of results that others are not able to obtain.
Education is often stressed because of what it can do for the person. As a matter of fact people tend to see an education only in terms of its utilitarian value; that is, what it can do for them. I have heard people disdain knowledge for knowledge’s sake. But they fail to realize that knowledge has intrinsic value.
There is a delight in obtaining knowledge separate from what you do or don’t do with it. There is a delight in learning, discovering and gaining knowledge different from the actual use of that knowledge.
Most of what we do in life is on a utilitarian level. We do most things because of the results they produce. By this you might have come to the conclusion that when something is intrinsically good it means that nothing else is needed to justify it or make it good. We do not have to supply a reason for its goodness. By itself it is good. It has “stand by itself goodness.”
On the other hand something is good in a utilitarian sense because it brings about some other good. It is the goodness of the effects that makes that thing or action good. Hence a utilitarian value is based on the effect created, the results obtained. The act is good because of the results it creates. For Christians worshipping God is an intrinsically good act in itself. It might produce bad results such as the loss of life, depending on the country where you live. But that doesn’t change its goodness because it is not tied to results it produces. It is intrinsically good.
In our world we tend to see and treat people based on their utilitarian worth rather than their intrinsic value. We respect people based on their accomplishments, what they were able to do with their lives, their achievements. In other words, how we treat them is tied to results that society values.
But each person has an intrinsic worth completely separated from their utilitarian value because they were made in the image of God.
We should practice more intrinsic goodness. There is an intrinsic worth in praising God that does not depend on results. Praising God is an end in itself, not just a means to an end. Let’s remember that next time we worship.
The Rev. Dr. Valentine Williams is an inspirational public speaker. He also conducts seminars and workshops related to Christian growth and development; as well as professional and personal development training. You can reach him with your questions, comments or for personal engagements at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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