Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value

Last night I had the opportunity to share about these two types of value. Essentially, the value that we have because God has created us in His image, and therefore it is not dependant on performance. In contrast, extrinsic “value” is something other. It is not actually value, but commendation, accolades, rewards, etc. Unfortunately these to realities are confused too often and interchanged. So many people focus on the rewards and receive it as value, which ultimately does not bring the fulfillment in life that only God can offer through simply “being” who you are created to be genuinely.

Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic “value” is value that is not intrinsic.

Many philosophers take intrinsic value to be crucial to a variety of moral judgments. For example, according to a fundamental form of consequentialism, whether an action is morally right or wrong has exclusively to do with whether its consequences are intrinsically better than those of any other action one can perform under the circumstances.

Many other theories also hold that what it is right or wrong to do has at least in part to do with the intrinsic value of the consequences of the actions one can perform. Moreover, if, as is commonly believed, what one is morally responsible for doing is some function of the rightness or wrongness of what one does, then intrinsic value would seem relevant to judgments about responsibility, too. Intrinsic value is also often taken to be pertinent to judgments about moral justice (whether having to do with moral rights or moral desert), insofar as it is good that justice is done and bad that justice is denied, in ways that appear intimately tied to intrinsic value.

“Extrinsic Value”, in a sense is not even “value” as it is a derivative of genuine value. In other words, if I, from within myself, help someone else, I am exercising that which is a morally good reality inside me, just as God intended. Therefore, if I try and find “value” because I did so, it’s only my ego that will have a perceived benefit, which takes me away from my actual value, and develops pride, which ultimately supplants my value.

When we confuse the two realities, it’s inevitable that I cannot get where I want to go in discovering my value and worth in the world around me, because pride always preceeds destruction.

Destruction of what?

Destruction of the discovery of my intrinsic value, causing me to gravitate to my false self, becoming ego-centric instead of God-centric, and missing the mark ultimately.

You and I are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Let’s seek first Him and His definition of who we are, then our value can be established, our purpose and our why can emerge, and we can stop striving to be someone we do not have to be. You can only truly be your genuine self, when you truly know who you are and the intrinsic value that you bring to the table.


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