In The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich Hayek made the important point that we should not confuse what the market values at a given point in time with what is meritorious. Market value is strictly a matter of relative scarcity—of supply and demand, of the technologies and production functions of the moment. Commanding a higher salary doesn’t demonstrate your intrinsic superiority. Your economic value is historically contingent and separate from your merit. Naturally people who think their merit should command higher pay don’t appreciate such cold analysis. And economically successful people absolutely hate the idea. I once interviewed a Harvard professor about his experience teaching Hayek. Of all Hayek’s ideas, he told me, the merit-value distinction was the one his students found least congenial. “Hard-working, successful, achievement-oriented Harvard students don’t like that idea,” he said. “They’re troubled with the idea that there’s a lot of luck.” So are many libertarians.We are troubled by such things, in both directions. We don't like to have our achievements denigrated and attributed to luck, and we also do not like to allow the marketplace to be the primary source of human worth. We are rewarded for producing something useful, but what we produce is not who we are.
For Christians, we have value solely because God assigns us value. Yet even so, the Bible talks about people of worth and value, and things we might do which are important. None of this is new, and we are rather stuck with it.