Over the last several years I have been asking myself the question, “Are People Worth It?” Are they worth the time I put into them? Are they even worth having relationships with? I don’t ask this question in relation to specific individuals. Most of my close trusted friends are most definitely worth it. I have relationships with them that I trust and have patiently put time into being trustworthy and trusting them. I ask this question about humanity in general.
When I was growing up, I never asked this question. I loved and had faith in everyone I met. When I was in college I had several friends that I gave many late hours, and several letter grades in two classes for that all told me, “No one has done or cared for me.” I remember the exact conversation, where I was standing, where my friend was sitting. Several days after that conversation, I began to question whether it was all worth it. I know other people who have large communities around them trying to help them, and they make seemingly no progress. Are they worth it? For several years I have been answering that question, no. I lost faith in people.
I often hear current ‘wisdom’ telling us that we need to have boundaries with these people. We need to keep our time because we are not being responsible with our time if it is not showing fruit. That is a really nice way of saying some people just aren’t worth your time. Are their times when some people literally are using you for their needs? Yes. But we should keep boundaries with them not because they are not worth our time, but because “helping them” is not helping them.
The act of judging whether or not people are “worth” our time is fairly arrogant. We don’t know the depths of the human heart, or what even goes on in others heads. We will never know on this side of eternity weather or not our actions saved someone from depression, gave them hope, or prevented suicide—even if we don’t see growth.
As someone only human, I am exasperated when I do not see fruit from my labor of love. (Though I must be careful that I love the person, not the labor itself). I want to see people grow and become better people. I want to know that I helped them through rough times. But I must resist letting that desire become the goal. I must love people regardless of how they respond. How much has Christ loved us and done for us without us growing in fruit for long periods of time? Christ says that others are worth it, even when I can’t see it.