It's not every day that an old home with all its contents is sold at auction. Most of the time, family members have made their way through the belongings of the deceased, picking the valuables clean like a cotton picker plucking cotton from a field and leaving little of value behind.
We don't have to wait until we go to an auction to place a value on things. We do that every day, Helms observes. (PhotoBucket)
Recently, I went to an auction at which more than 150 people pilfered through someone else's house and a lifetime's collection of antique furniture, dishes, tools and junk.
People followed the auctioneer around in hopes of taking home something of value.
Therein lies the great dilemma of anyone who has ever attended an auction – determining the value of an item.
Take a rocking chair, for example. To one person, it's a comfortable chair to sit in and not much more.
To another person, it looks very similar to the one her grandmother used to rock her in when she was a little girl. She's been looking for one like it all her life. She's prepared to bid more than its value to take it home.
Take a couple old bottles tucked away in a box of odds and ends. One person may think the bottles are novel, but not much more.
To a bottle collector who took the time to research and discover that they are both rare and worth $150 each, he is prepared to bid enough on the box to take it home and make a profit reselling the bottles to other collectors.
Then there's always the disappointed buyer, the person at the auction who got caught up in the moment, the one who threw up her card one time too many.
She outbid all the other bidders. After the 10 percent auctioneer's fee was added and she was given her total, buyer's remorse had already set in.
Her buyer's remorse continued after she took her new, old items home to add to her growing collection of things she thought she needed at the time.
But we don't have to wait until we go to an auction to place a value on things. We do that every day.
We place a value on our time, our relationships, our diet, our health, our family, our vocation and our fellowship with God.
We determine our priorities with every decision we make. The sum of these decisions reflects whether we believe life is about us or if life is about something much bigger.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field" (Matthew 13:44).
After I left the auction, I tried to imagine people walking through my house, bidding on everything from the pictures on the walls to the junk in my basement.
Would anyone walk away thinking he or she was taking home a prize, something of great value? Perhaps that would happen for a few.
But the more important questions are these:
● Can I live in such a way that others know that my treasure isn't tied up in things I own, but in the One who died for me through His death on the cross?
● Can I convince others that they are of great value to the Lord?
● Can I lead others to seek their treasure in God's kingdom, rather than in things that will someday belong to someone else?
As I lean forward into 2013, these questions are framing my thoughts and helping me check my priorities.
Michael Helms is pastor of First Baptist Church in Jefferson, Ga. This column first appeared on his blog.