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What is Truly Valuable?

A story is told of a man who loved old books. He met an acquaintance who had just thrown away a Bible that had been stored in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. “I couldn’t read it,” the friend explained. “Somebody named ‘Guten-something’ had printed it.” “Not Gutenberg!” the book lover exclaimed in horror. “That Bible was one of the first books every printed. Why, a copy just sold for over two million dollars!” His friend was unimpressed. “Mine wouldn’t have bought a dollar. Some fellow named Luther had scribbled all over it in German.”

It amazes me to watch people and observe what they value in life. I’ve seen parents do all they can do to groom their children academically, socially, athletically, and involve them in as many extra-curricular programs as necessary for them to receive a scholarship or be able to attend the best schools. There is nothing wrong with this unless it interferes with that which is the most valuable. A secular education is meaningless and fruitless without a spiritual education.

I’ve seen adults run rough-shod over others by their use of money, their intelligence, or prestige, or even their education, just so they will think they are better than anyone else. What value is in that?

I’ve seen people run from that which is uncomfortable or painful to that which is less threatening (at least on the surface), thinking that they will be better off. Remember “no pain – no gain?”

What is valuable to you? Is it what people think of you? Fame/Popularity? Your material possessions? Your children…grandchildren? Do not the unbelieving also put value on these things?

Jesus said in John 6:27, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…” In other words, value is consistent with that which lasts…

Legend has it that, before he died, Charlemagne asked to be entombed sitting upright on his throne, his crown placed on his head and his scepter in his hand. His royal cape was to be draped around his shoulders and an open book was to be placed in his lap.

Several hundred years later, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa wanted to preserve the bones of Charlemagne, his model in the faith. He sent a team to open the tomb and place the bones in a golden reliquary while he proclaimed Charlemagne’s canonization. The legendary report of this team is that the body was just as Charlemagne had ordered. But several things had happened over the centuries. The crown was tilted. The mantle was moth-eaten. The body was disfigured. But on the skeletal thighs was the book Charlemagne had requested: The Bible.

The book was open. And one bony finger pointed to these words: “What gain then is it for a man to win the whole world and lose his soul?”


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