Recently, in Defiance, Ohio, a man uncovered an enormous treasure in his grandfather’s attic. At first, many people would not have seen the value in his find. Those who have the eyes to see recognized it right away. What the man found was an extremely rare collection of 100 year old baseball cards. The cards were issued in 1910 and are preserved in pristine condition. Experts estimate that the complete collection is worth $3,000,000. Not a bad return for cleaning out the attic.
This story caught my attention because I have been a baseball card collector in the past. In fact, I still have a cabinet in my house that is filled with thousands of baseball cards. Some are from my childhood and some are from a more recent foray into the arena of collecting. I’m sure that my whole collection could be worth, at least, $100. But I could be wrong!
This story got me thinking about all of the unrecognized treasures we have in our “attic.” In Ephesians 1:3 Paul writes, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He tells us that God has lavishly blessed us with all kinds of spiritual treasures. The problem is that we often overlook them or undervalue them.
Our family is going through a time of transition. This has caused me to begin to re-evaluate some things that I have taken for granted. For the past 26 years our home has been blessed with the presence of children, and all of the activity and vitality that they bring with them. In a very short time our home will become very quiet, as our youngest child heads off to college. We have been blessed with a beautiful home, situated on about three acres of land, and surrounded by trees. I have mowed the lawn numerous times, trimmed countless bushes, and cut down a number of dead trees to use for fire wood. Just the other day, I was struck by what an awesome gift my home really is. I have had the privilege of serving the same church for the past 25 years. Daily coming to my office to study and weekly standing in the pulpit have become a comfortable routine for me. I have developed a significant number of relationships, which have enriched my life. All of these are a treasure that I often take for granted. These are only examples of the many treasures in my attic.
There are treasures of far greater value than the ones I have already mentioned. These are spiritual treasures that, unlike my temporal treasures, will never pass away. I have been given the treasure of prayer; the privilege of talking directly to God, without fear of rejection. I often undervalue prayer. It can become just a routine activity that I check off of my to-do list. But prayer is a treasure. Paul invites me to take full advantage of this gift.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
I have the treasure of new life in Christ. I have been redeemed, forgiven and restored. I do not have to fear the future or what it might hold. I belong to the King of Kings. My life is secure in him. Not only that, but I am being recreated in his image. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I am becoming more and more of the person God created me to be.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)
But the greatest treasure of all is having a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. He is not some distant, demanding God, who forces me to do his will. Jesus is my loving Savior and Lord, who cares about every detail of my life. Paul reminds me that there is no greater treasure than knowing Christ.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)
There is a TV show called Antiques Road Show. On this program, people bring things that they have found tucked away in a closet or in the attic of their house, and have them appraised by experts. Sometimes, what they have is of little value. Sometimes, they discover that they have something of great value. When that happens, most people are genuinely surprised.
God has filled our lives with abundant treasures. Too many of them remain unappreciated in our spiritual attic. From time to time, God does something in our life that makes us take a second look at what is in our attic. Often, when we do that, we discover treasures of great value. What treasures have you overlooked or undervalued in your life?