What is Real Value?

Mike Glenn has some interesting thoughts about the difference between the labeled price and the true value of things. He talks about the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s story of thieves who broke into a jewelry store yet didn’t steal any thing. They simply rearranged the price tags on the items in the store. Expensive jewelry was labeled with a cheap price while decorative costume jewelry had a very high price tag. The next morning many pieces were sold as customers paid almost nothing for rich and valuable items while others paid a high price for junk jewelry. All of this happened before the mistaken price tags were discovered.

The story may well be descriptive of what has happened to our world today. Someone has switched the price tags. It started in a Garden long, long ago. Caught up in the rearranged order of our world we pay too much for junk, and often ignore things really valuable because they have been mislabeled with a cheap price.

Fame, often obtained infamously, possessions, wealth and a host of other things are set before us as a golden chalice for our life. We dream that what we have or do are the most important issues in our experience. We embrace the misplaced price tags till we reach disappointment, disillusionment, and maybe even despair. The value of life and family are treated as no longer relevant in this new day. Integrity and unselfishness are no longer virtues to be sought after.

Mike Glenn says, “Nowhere is this switching of price tags more evident than in the area of self-esteem. In our culture people are valued for how they look, what they can do or even what they have, but rarely for who they are. In our world you have to be beautiful by mathematical standards…and entertaining (not talented but entertaining)…and if you are not, the world has no place for you. If you can’t make the Top 100 in the world on some list, you are nothing.”

Too many finally reach the top of the ladder of success only to find they have leaned the ladder against the wrong wall.

Adrian Rogers said, “What is the value of a thing but the price it will bring in eternity!” One might possess an expensive car but use it only selfishly. Its value diminishes until at last it’s worthless. But if it’s used to make us aware of and then to provide help for pressing social needs all around…or used to transport us to areas of spiritual challenge and growth…or assist others in finding the true value of their life, then its value rises far beyond its price. What will be the true evaluation of anything if it does not count for eternity!

The words of Mark 8:35-36 can help us with the balance between price and value. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” We can’t afford to still be blinded by gain and loss. Our greatest gain means nothing if we face our greatest loss unprepared.

Now is the best time to look at the price tags! Have they been rearranged? Do they need to be straightened out? Let’s stop giving our all for junk! Let’s place our focus and importance on the things that are really worthwhile! Start making a list of what’s truly valuable. We can begin today. 

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it”.
– Mark:35

Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain