I have always marveled at works of art such as the famous painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. Each is valued at millions of dollars all because the original artist was very skilled at what they created and because they are no longer living so these one-of-a-kind works of art cannot be duplicated. Their workmanship has resulted in the creation of masterpieces.
In thinking about the value of these works of art, the actual materials that went into creating them would be minimal in price. A painting such as the Mona Lisa would need a large canvas ($200-500), oil paints (a set for $100-300), and paint brushes ($25-100). Those are just guesses from my local Hobby Lobby store and at current day prices. The 6 ton sculpture of David would require a large block of marble (7-10 ton at $200/ton) and tools to hammer, chisel and sculpt the statue ($200-750). The skills of the artist/creator would involve many hours of time and expertise that are much more difficult to price. This is where you begin to see the price tag going into the thousands and millions of dollars. That is because of the unique abilities of the artist. No one else can do identical work.
We, too, as human beings have been created by an amazing artist – God! God’s creative abilities are beyond measure as he took the dust of the earth and formed man and woman in His image. Being formed in God’s image includes the ability to be creative and to create.
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27 NIV
So what is our worth as human beings? Looking at the materials that God uses to create humans – dirt, minerals, water, and air, the cost of materials comes to roughly $300. So what gives human beings value? Well, just like the artist and sculptor’s unique abilities and talent give their paintings and statues great and nearly priceless value, so God, as the creator of all things, gives mankind, who he placed in authority of the animals, fish and birds, immense and priceless value. And in scripture, Paul tells us that we are his workmanship!
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above–spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” Ephesians 2:10 AMP
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
The Greek origin of the word workmanship/masterpiece is poiema which gives us our English words POEM and POETRY. Poiema means “something made” and in context is something made by God Himself.
Timothy Keller asks “Do you know what it means that you are God’s workmanship? What is art? Art is beautiful, art is valuable, and art is an expression of the inner being of the maker, of the artist. Imagine what that means. You’re beautiful, you’re valuable, and you’re an expression of the very inner being of the Artist, the divine Artist, God Himself. You see, when Jesus gave Himself on the Cross, He didn’t say, “I’m going to die just so you know I love you.” He said, “I’m going to die, I’m going to bleed, for your splendor. I’m going to re-create you into something beautiful. I will turn you into something splendid, magnificent. I’m the Artist; you’re the art. I’m the Painter; you’re the canvas. I’m the Sculptor; you’re the marble. You don’t look like much there in the quarry, but I can see. Oh, I can see!” Jesus is an Artist!”
Jon Bloom, a writer for desiringgod.com, writes the following about poiema:
What Paul, and God through Paul, wants you to understand is this: You are an epic poem, a God-imaging poiema — become flesh and spirit. Your poem contains all the comedic and tragic drama of an existence more real and more meaningful than you have yet to comprehend. If you think you are a boring work of prose, you don’t yet see things as they really are. You are afflicted with a sin-induced cataract in the eye of the heart. But it is God’s intention and delight to heal your sight (Ephesians 1:18).
Whenever you are feeling critical and down about yourself and thinking you are worthless as a human being and a mistake, I want to encourage you to remember that the Master of all master artists, God himself, created you to be of great value. And your value is so huge in God’s eyes, that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Jesus, on the cross so that you can be in relationship with Him. He desires for everyone of us to experience his unconditional love and to love him in return. Then God created in advance the works and paths we are to do/take in response to his love for us and in our desire to praise Him and obey.
So, allow the Master Artist to do His work in you, transforming you from a dirty canvas or a rock in a quarry or a random list of words into a Masterpiece that is a beautiful painting, sculpture and poem.
Remember, YOU are God’s masterpiece! Don’t ever forget it!