Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18–19—NKJV)

“Why don’t you go out and make something of yourself?” Generations of young people have heard similar words from their parents. Sometimes the words are just what it takes to motivate a young person to take the reins of his life and strive for excellence. For many others, the words are taken as a stinging, demotivating rebuke because they do not know where to start. The words only add to discouragement, especially if the young person does not have a very high estimation of himself. Looking at the unemployment landscape of our day, it is doubtless that words like this can easily add to youthful confusion and cast a thicker cloud upon their thinking. Their search for what to do with their life must start from a very simple, but profoundly effective, recognition of their identity before their heavenly Father.

The context of our passage is written directly to those who know they are born again. As always, “first things must be first.” Are you born again? Without Jesus Christ as the foundation of a man’s life, confusion will always reign since there can be no clear direction from God, for that man has no part in God. Only believers can have their mind “uncrippled” by God (verse 13). Only believers have the new nature given from God so that they can strive to be holy, sanctified, and set apart (verses 14–16). The verse immediately preceding our passage reminds us all that God, in perfect justice, reviews the fruit of each life, and so every believer must develop a healthy reverence and deference for the claims of God on his time, talent, and treasure during the days of his pilgrimage on this earth. Each will stand alone before God and give account for his doings.

These distinguishing features of the believer find their genesis in the believer’s redemption. The word for redeemed in verse 18 means release on the receipt of a ransom. It is a release gained for a price paid. An appropriate question: A release from what? Our text states plainly that we are released from “aimless conduct received by tradition” given from our fathers. Every unsaved family passes on the same traditions to their offspring. The traditions are of self-redemption, “make something of yourself,” be successful, be useful, figure your life out. The traditions received from unsaved parents, while often meritorious, cannot lead to saving faith that has a claim on God’s direction, nor model for the young people yieldedness to His will paired with a fitting thirst after the God of Heaven. The verdict of the Lord is that the traditions received lead to aimless (empty, vain, foolish, void of result) slavery. Without God in the equation, one gets some strange results.

The price of redemptive release is not silver or gold. The Greek words for these two precious metals are in the diminutive form meaning the “little silver and little gold” pieces associated with a slave’s price in those ancient days. Peter is telling us that God did not use something inferior, valued by men for menial things, to assess your value and purchase you. Instead, God used something that the unsaved world does not know how to value, and in reality does not value. A believer is thoroughly bought by the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Until a man is born again he cannot recognize the costly nature of the blood of Christ, nor the high esteem that the Father places upon the peerless blood of His Son. No other payment will do to secure your release. Your redeemed life is valued by the price God paid to buy you, not just to purchase your acquittal from your sin’s penalty, nor just to purchase your future in heaven, but to purchase every last minute left to you on this earth as well. God “bankrupted heaven” to purchase you, and you have the high privilege of being in partnership with Him!

With this fundamental recognition of God’s primary claim on your life, you are equipped to pursue His unmistakable leading in what you should do with the rest of your life. Make sure God’s interest in you is the foundational consideration when it comes to assessing what to make of yourself for His glory. Trust and obey.