A USA TODAY story in 2007 tells a story of something of inestimable value. It says:
The old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” took on new meaning — and a sick feeling of regret — for a couple who donated a rolled-up parchment document to a Nashville thrift store last year, only to find out this week that it was a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence, likely to be worth six figures.
“I bought it at a yard sale … about 10 years, ago, I think,” said Stan Caffy, a pipe fitter who described himself as “the idiot who donated that Declaration you wrote about.” He had it hanging in his garage for about a decade
Caffey read later that a man named Michael Sparks bought the Declaration from the thrift store for $2.48 and is ready to auction it off for $250,000 or more.
Caffy and his wife, Linda, married a little over a year ago, and as part of the ritual of combining households, she pushed him to clean out the garage, which had filled up with all sorts of extraneous things.
So the moral of the story is to never throw anything away; you never know what it might be worth. (I’m hoping Diana reads this!)
This story, along with the main ideas of the parables with look at this week, prompted me to open the sermon yesterday with a similar “what would you do it” kind of story …
What would you do it you were at a weekend yard sale on a Saturday morning. And there you saw a very old metal teapot that caught your eye, but you thought the price was really rather high for a yard sale.
Later that day you happened to flip past the “Antiques Roadshow” PBS program, and what do you see but the very same teapot being discussed. And you are amazed to find out that it is extraordinarily rare … that it was handmade by Paul Revere, and he was known to have only made five of them … so this teapot was said to be worth thousands of dollars.
Beyond that, the program’s expert host says that there is a particularly special one of these that has been lost to history … that it was a gift to George and Martha Washington, and that it would be worth an inestimable sum of money if ever found … and that their initials were on the bottom of it. And you recall when you handled the item earlier that there was writing on the bottom, and you’re pretty sure it was “GW and MW.”
What would you do? Would you not return to that sale prepared to pay whatever they asked for it, just to have possession of something so valuable?
Again, here is the passage and parables from Matthew 13:44-46: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
We will get into some deeper interpretive efforts in the next two days, but it does not take a lot of deep digging to see a single main idea that comes from the passage: that the kingdom of heaven is of inestimable value.
Here is a question for you to start off the week: Can you think of anything that comes even close to being of greater inestimable worth than being “all in” in terms of valuing our relationship with God through Christ? And a follow-up question: What are some things that some people believe to be of inestimable value?
When preaching or writing about a topic like this, I am sometimes struck by how difficult it is to come up with an illustration that even begins to scratch the surface of a topic that is related to the immensity of God or the awesome nature of His eternal plans and heavenly kingdom. Anything we come up with seems silly by comparison. BUT THAT IS THE POINT! There really is only one thing that is truly inestimable. And you can have it for free!