What is the true value of things?
On one level, a value is placed on everything: that being a price. Each item that we have around is worth something to someone, and different things to different people. Value is assigned based on usefulness, aesthetics, rarity, and a whole host of things.
Nothing makes this plainer than a garage sale. At these sales are many types of things. There are the clothes that have been received as a gift that either did not fit, were not the right color/style, and those things that we just didn’t like. There are toys that either no longer work, or that the children have outgrown. “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.”
And yet, is this the true value of things? As Christians, we all well know that we are just pilgrims in this world. God gives us all things to enjoy and we in this country enjoy many things indeed. Yet when things come in the way of God, they are actually something to our detriment, instead of a positive. In this case, we must divorce ourselves from things– make sure that nothing but Christ is our goal and our desire: our only Treasure. If we do not do this, than our desire lasts in a thing that will fail us.
So, we’re stuck at the same question– if we are not to put things above God, what is their true value? I would break it down this way:
Utility. We have certain needs that should be provided for. God provides all our needs according to the Scripture. So, things like food, water, air, protection, family– these are all things with tremendous value because of their utility.
Ministry. We have been given means and ability so that we might share with others. Knowing that this world is not all that there is, and that we need to be making a difference in people’s lives so that they might see Christ in us gives things that we can share tremendous value.
Memory. The things that we have help us to remember where we come from and where we are going. That is probably the one that I’m struggling the most with in the aftermath of our garage sale last weekend. You see, as you see things sold that you haven’t seen for ages because they have been stored but then they go away with individuals as they buy them, you feel the emotional attachment of the memories that go with different items.
For some reason, one particular item (a plastic wall hanging with two squirrels on it– one on top of the roof of a house and the other in it) brought back memories of childhood since it hung on my wall. For some reason I have a strange emotional attachment to the thing, and it was purchased today to a new home. I can’t explain why, except for the memories.
This must be the same reason that we all believe that pictures would be the first things we would save from a burning house (ok, get the kids out first, I suppose!)– not because we think we look great or because they would get a good price, but because of the memories attached to the pictures that we will never be able to go back and get again.
In that way, we use all sorts of things as memory aids, and it’s harder for some of us to part with them than it is with others!
To me, these three give things value: Utility, Ministry, and Memory. How about you?