On a recent repeat episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” I caught a segment featuring a man with two 19th century paintings by J.F. Kensett that he’d purchased at a yard sale. He told the AR appraiser that he once had them appraised for $800-$900 by a woman who also offered a buyer for the paintings. The AR appraiser, after examining the paintings and consulting with colleagues, told the man a conservative auction estimate for the paintings was $30,000-$60,000 each. Understandably, the man was speechless. (A transcript of this exchange can be found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200605A41.html) His is not the first story of this kind I’ve heard on the show. I always wonder how close these people came to accepting a first, and lesser, offer for their valuables and what must be going through their minds when they find out they were almost robbed of the true value.
We can be just as easily duped about life. How often do we settle for what is good, or something we think is good, when if we wait we will have something with a value beyond compare?
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
Life is a treasure with which we are entrusted for a time, but we so easily sell it for less than what it’s worth. We sell ourselves to our jobs, success, retirement accounts, houses, entertainment, “stuff” and even our families. And we miss the point if that’s all we make life about. Jesus is telling his disciples in this passage that there’s something far greater to invest our lives in than anything we can own or see. He’s calling people to salvation, the promise and assurance of life forever.
Only when we look to Jesus can we discover what life is truly worth. The apostle Paul twice in his letters tells us we were bought at a price. John 3:16 tells us the price — Jesus’ death on the cross for sins he never committed. But because of that price, we’re promised an inheritance in heaven if we accept that we need Jesus and what he did because of our sins.
And God, because He’s a generous God, doesn’t only leave us with a promise of good things to come. He promises that with Him, life here, in the meantime, can be as good as it gets, His way, not the world’s way.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, NASB)
It’s easier to value what’s right in front of us, to treasure what we can see and believe what the world tells us is valuable, but like the man on “Antiques Roadshow,” if we wait for the Expert’s assessment, we’ll find a value far greater than we could have dreamed.