Friday, March 9, 2007

One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure

I used to watch a show in the US called the “Antiques Road Show.” In this weekly series expert antique appraisers would travel the country to meet with ordinary people who would bring out their old stuff – often junk – to a local community center to see if it had any value.

The drama would usually begin like this. You would see the appraiser walk from table to table and then walk back by a certain table a second and third time for a glance at a certain item. When this happened the owner would get nervous thinking, “he must see something valuable.” After all, they had all seen the show before, which is like American Idol for your attic or basement.

I remember once the expert stopped to talk with a woman who had an old-looking table that wasn’t particularly attractive. He looked at the top, but he would always look underneath to see if there was a stamp indicating the name of the craftsman who made it. Once he was satisfied with his observations he would start to ask questions: “How long have you owned this? Do you know the history of this table? What do you use it for? What do you think it is worth?” The routine was always the same.

The woman answered that the table had been in her family several generations, but she did not know the origin. She said she actually had it stored in her basement with paint cans stacked on top. The appraiser shook his head in disbelief and began to tell her the history of the piece. He knew from the stamp underneath that it was made by a famous early-American craftsman. He also related that it was the missing piece of a famous priceless collection to which the woman’s eyes grew bigger. “So, how much do you think it is worth now?” he asked. The woman shyly replied, “Several thousand dollars?”

“Well” said the appraiser with a pause in his voice, “I think that at auction it would get at least $200,000.” The woman’s mouth hung open, and she could not close it for a short while. “Will you sell it?” he asked to which she quickly replied, “Absolutely not!” “What will you do with it then?” he continued.

“One thing is for sure”, she exclaimed, “I will certainly never stack paint cans on it again, and it goes straight to the dining room where it will be the showpiece!” When this woman found out the identity of her table’s craftsman – this was what gave it the value – and then it’s hidden value her whole mindset changed.

As people we often live in the basement with junk in our hearts and waste stacked on top of us. Once we know who our Maker really is and the cost that was paid to redeem us our whole mindset changes. This is the truth that Jesus spoke of when He said:

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
John 8:32

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Cor 6:20


And, what was the price?

"…Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Rev 5:9


The cost was exceedingly high, and to go on with life as usual after this revelation shows that we really don’t understand the gospel.

What should change when we get our true appraisal from God?


  • We will have a positive motivation to turn from sin.
  • We will want to know our Maker more.
  • We will no longer believe the “other appraiser”, our adversary, the spiritual pawn shop owner.
  • We will become traveling appraisers who eagerly desire to tell others their true worth.

4 comments:

Skywalker said...

Heya Mike, I read your post over at the EN Plog and quickly subscribed to your RSS in my Google reader for more good stuff. This is the first article I've read and I was definitely not disappointed. I love your simple truths.

It's unfortunate that we need something like The Passion of the Christ or a big conference or a retreat to get back to the basics of what Jesus did for us because of His love.

Thanks for the great post.

Mike said...

Thanks skywalker (Luke). I am learning a lot in Manila through American eyes, and hope to apply these truths in Ukraine or where-ever.

Motivating people towards outreach is really the big question. I am trying to camp around Matt 4:19 these days. I know of no other answer than to make disciples: followers of Jesus & fishers of men.

Thanks for the comment.

rads said...

i just love this illustration of yours Mike,this is, i think, the 20th time i have come across it and i intend to share this analogy to as many people as i can.

Lynn said...

great post, mike. last week i visited topkapi palace in istanbul where they had an 86 carat diamond displayed -- someone found it in a garbage dump and traded it to another man for 3 spoons. it was uncut and unpolished so no one even realized it was a diamond until a merchant saw it and bought it from the spoon guy. when i read your blog it made me think of this diamond -- only after it was cut and polished up did people recognize the value that had always been intrinsic to it.