For many years, we were fans of "The Antiques Road Show" on PBS. Those of you who have seen this show know that when people bring in their treasures for appraisal, a little drama takes place. The expert appraiser provides some information about the antique and then asks the owner if he has any idea of the value of the object. Usually, the owner has no idea of the value while he hopes it will be worth a ton of money.
Sometimes the objects appear to us to be quite ugly and useless as well, though most of them are beautiful and have some meaningful family tie. The camera zooms in as the appraiser announces, with a bit of a flourish, a conservative estimate of the value.
The more the object is worth, the greater the owner's response. Often, the owner vows to hold onto his treasure forever. At this point, if the item is both ugly and useless, but worth a bundle, we look at each other and one of us says: "I'd sell that thing in a minute." We like this show because we can identify with the universal desire to discover something of great value.
The insatiable desire for wealth has been around for thousands of years. In the twelfth chapter of Luke, Jesus warns us to "Take care to guard against all greed for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."
The implication is that there is more than one kind of greed. In addition to possessions, we can also be greedy with our time, or greedy by insisting things be done our way. We can even be greedy for status or in seeking pleasure.
The answer, of course, lies in our priorities. If we hold onto a lamp that great-grandma kept burning until grandpa came home safely from the war, it is the memory of faith and courage bound up in the object that we value. It is quite another thing to keep a lamp because we feel secure only when we are surrounded by expensive things.
All of us are born with an emptiness that wants to be filled with something. When we fill the space with God, little else is needed. Without God, nothing else satisfies. We see around us a growing number of people who have confused priorities and no focus. Yet, all the time they work frantically, trying to fill the empty spot within.
True security has nothing to do with things and everything to do with our relationship with Christ. Only when we put our relationship with God at the very center of our lives will we discover treasures beyond price.
With Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas on the horizon, this is a good time to think about what matters most. It is the season to be thankful for all that we have and a time to remember to live in simple gratitude so that we can focus on the people around us.