How Much Do You Matter?

(David Sisler's newspaper column, Not For Sunday Only, is in its 13th year of weekly publication. For reprint permission, or to subscribe, contact Mr. Sisler at

Lou and Anita were married in 1941. As soon as the guests left the reception, the new couple moved from Iowa to start a new life in Southern California. For the next 13 years, Lou worked in food stores and delicatessens, while Anita raised the two children who were soon born into the home. Finally they bought a restaurant in Los Angeles and named it “Lou’s Quickie Grill.”

The next year they were doing well enough to hire Barbara, a young black woman, thrust into a white environment for the first time. Remember this was 1954 when the racial climate in America was very different than it is today.

The next year Barbara was promoted from dishwasher to waitress. Lou and Anita hired another waitress, a white woman who let it be known she was unhappy working with a black woman as an equal. One day when the restaurant was filled with the lunch crowd, she threw a racial insult at Barbara and Lou fired the white woman on the spot.

Over the years Barbara and Lou and Anita became more than employee and employers. They became friends. When Lou and Anita decided to retire in 1987, they were concerned about Barbara because she had spent her whole life with them.

Lou and Anita took Barbara to the Los Angeles County Hall of Records and signed a set of papers. The next morning Lou changed the sign in the restaurant to “Barb’s Quickie Grill.” The transaction was not a sale. It was the recording of a gift.

In response to a panhandler’s line, Eileen felt she was worth the $2.50 compliment.

In response to a lifetime of friendship, Lou and Anita felt Barbara mattered enough to give her, free and clear, the restaurant they had built together.

How much are you worth? How much do you matter?

One day Jesus told about a traveler who took the dangerous, 20-mile route from Jerusalem to Jericho. The road twisted down 3,600 feet through terrain infested with robbers and cut-throats. Only a stranger or a fool would make the journey alone.

The man was ambushed by thieves, beaten, stripped, and left for dead by the side of the road. Three men approached him.

The first was a priest, trained in the word of God, trained to be compassionate. If he touched the man, and if he was dead, then the priest would be ceremonially unclean and he could not perform his duties at the Temple. That mattered more than the injured man, and so he passed by on the other side without stopping to see if the traveler still lived.

The second passerby was a Levite, similarly trained, and he similarly ignored the victim.

The third man was a Samaritan. He would have been as despised by the Jews as Barbara was by the white waitress. Racial hatred knows no geographical boundaries. But to this hated Samaritan, the injured man mattered. He dressed his wounds, put him on his animal, and walked while the injured man rode. He even arranged for convalescent care for a total stranger. If the robbers were still in the area, he placed himself at personal risk, but the needs of a suffering man mattered.

How much are you worth? How much do you matter? Do you feel as if life has mugged you and everyone is passing by on the other side? Look! Here comes someone else walking toward you. It is Jesus, God the Son. At Calvary, He stopped to help you. At Calvary, He was mugged, He was killed, so that you might live.

How much do you matter? To God, you matter the life of His only Son.

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