Devotion for 20 April - the value of a human life

Kia ora Cambridge Baptist and friends,

Have you ever wondered what the value of a human life is?  While all life is priceless and a gift from God, every government around the world uses estimates of a “value of (a) statistical life” (VSL) to help it in making decisions about what to spend on road safety, how many fire stations we need and what drugs to fund. 

In its well being budget last year our government for example placed a value of 4.7 million dollars on a statistical life. 

Why I am raising this now?  Because today cabinet is deciding whether to open up the economy and drop the COVID-19 alert from level 4 to level 3.  That decision could well cost lives, and the government in making that decision will be looking very closely at the VSL. 

Staying at level 4 on its own figures, given the projected cost to the economy of remaining at level 4 for a protracted time could well be in excess of 60 billion dollars, could only be  justified if it means the lives of at least 16,000 New Zealanders would be saved from the virus. Or to put it another way would be lost if we went to level 3 or lower.

It’s a difficult decision, and one I’m glad I don’t have to make it. And I pray they get it right for all of us.  But what it has made me think about is the price that God was prepared to pay to rescue us from worse fate than COVID-19 - spiritual death and eternal separation from God.  In Psalm 49:7-9 the Psalmist reflects on the fact that the “ransom for life is costly, no payment is ever enough – so that they [we] should live on forever and not see decay”.

God in his mercy and his grace saw the price we had to pay to avoid the consequences of our own sin and shortcoming, was beyond us,  as no amount of money, good works or contrition would ever be enough to pay the price to reconcile us back to a holy and righteous God.  So, in his mercy He paid the price by giving his Son as a ransom for many.  Was it a fair exchange – no, but God in his great love paid the price any way so we could have life and have life abundantly.  May be in looking at the government’s decision this afternoon we should remember saving lives more often than not involves great sacrifice.


Father, thank you for the price you paid for us.  May we at this time, when our government considers the cost of saving lives, reflect on the great ransom you paid for us.  Fill our hearts with love and compassion as you had compassion for us in our state.



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