Monday, June 19, 2017

Bargain Treasures

What has little value to the world might be an unbelievable treasure! This entry from February 25, 2007 is about a great discovery of American history that was sold at slightly below market value!

You might have seen the story on the news. Michael Sparks, a man who works in the music industry in Nashville, has come into possession of a rare piece of American history, a copy of the Declaration of Independence. One of two hundred replicas commissioned by President John Quincy Adams in 1820, the document has been valued at a minimum of $250,000, and will soon be auctioned off. Authenticated by experts and believed to be one of only thirty-seven surviving prints, the find has produced enormous publicity in the past week. The incredible spin on the tale is that Sparks found the gem on a table in a thrift store in the Tennessee capital with a price tag of....$2.48! Roughly speaking, Michael Sparks will cash in his investment with a net return yield of 100,000%! I need that guy to handle my tax shelter annuity!

During my career as a history instructor, I would decorate my classroom wall with a mock version of the Declaration of Independence. Each year, my students would memorize the second paragraph, which is introduced with WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT and includes those unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Honestly, when you do extensive memory work, you get to the point where you can recite the passage, correct the kids, and plan basketball practice drills mentally at the same time. It is wonderful bit of Americana that Michael Sparks is about to become rich through his good fortune and his shrewd instincts in purchasing what no one else seemed interested in. The treasure of the Declaration, though, lies not in its auction value but in the lofty ideals it represents. Other historical museum pieces might fetch higher bids but none is equal in human worth to the several phrases penned primarily by a young Thomas Jefferson in 1776. In Second Corinthians 4, Paul describes the gospel of Jesus Christ as treasure, packaged in our weakness labeled as jars of clay. In First Peter 1, the apostle told his readers, believers who had been scattered to the corners of the world, that their faith was superior in value to the most sought after human currency, gold. Society wouldn't see it in those terms. How many walked past that same yellowed piece of parchment that Michael Sparks gambled, if $2.48 is a gamble, could make him a fortune? I heard him say on television that it isn't about the money. Maybe so but I bet he doesn't refuse his payday. Many are searching for the treasure of Jesus in the twenty-first century, poking around in the thrift shops that we disguise as our culture. If believers are doing their part, it should be an easy find. The difference in Christianity and the world is that the world hoards and hides its treasures while we should strive to spread the wealth of salvation. Maybe we are like that thrift shop table and just hope somebody stumbles across us. What was it Jesus said about a city on a hill? It couldn't be hidden? He was right- we need to come out of the dust bins.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this- no dog exchanges bones with another."
Adam Smith

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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