How Much Will You Take For It?
I confess, I don't care for garage sales. I often wonder, "If it isn't good enough to live in that house, why do we think it is good enough for ours?" Fact is, I don't like any place where you have to barter or play pricing games. They are too much like life. I'll explain.
It happens to everyone, and this particular night it was my son's turn. The wind caught his door and it thumped into the car door next to him. I was blissfully unaware of this until we got halfway from the car to the restaurant and he said, "Dad, I'm not sure, but I might have dented that car." We walked back and checked the door. Yes, there were two dents in it. We opened ours. Yes, it matched one of the dents. The smaller dent was probably ours. I pulled out one of my business cards and wrote on the back of it that the owner should call us and we would take responsibility for fixing the door, no questions asked. Duncan wondered if we should have to fix the whole door when we were only responsible for the smallest dent. I told him that it was our job to have it fixed. They could decide whether or not to mistreat us. That was their decision. Our decision was to own up to what had happened.
We could have walked away, but think for a second. If I traded my living, breathing Christianity for a few hundred dollars it would have revealed that everything I preach and teach is a fraud. I couldn't sell my faith that cheaply.
And my son? I showed him no anger. He kept saying he was sorry until I held up my hand to stop him. "Duncan," I said, "you are a good son and a good man. You and I have a great relationship. This kind of accident can happen to anyone. Truth be told, it DOES happen to everybody some time or another. There is no way I am trading my relationship with you for five minutes of yelling and three or four days of making your life miserable. It isn't worth it. Let's go eat."
Why sell your son for a lot of yelling and feeling all self-righteous? Why sell your Christianity for a lousy wad of tens? It is still far too easy to sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and to sell your family for less.
It is far too easy to sell our unity in Christ for a song preference or a perferred interpretation of a beloved Scripture. It is far too easy to sell our relationship with our loving wives for a power play in an argument or for a half hour of lust fulfilled. It is far too easy to sell our call for evangelism, social justice, peacemaking for another raise, another filled line on our schedule, another entry in the Palm Pilot or ... a pair of shoes. Amos warns us twice (2:6; 8:6) against selling the needy so cheaply.
When we still lived in Scotland we had visitors from time to time. One time a couple came who said they wanted to come and work in Scotland with us to help us build the church. I didn't know him well but I was happy to show him around. He took lots of photos and wanted to have them developed so I took him to a chemist's and we waited a day (this was back in the 80's, children). When we came back for them and he was told by the little girl how much they cost he exploded. It was about twice what he paid for that service back home in the US. He was abusive and insistent about the evil being perpetuated on him. It got so bad that I got hold of his belt (he was a lot bigger than I) and pulled him away from the counter and out of the shop. "Congratulations," I told him. "You just sold that girl's soul for twelve pounds. I will never be able to talk to her about Jesus because she is going to associate me with the huge, red faced, angry American who berated and belittled her over something she could not control or change. I hope you feel better, but she doesn't, I don't, and Jesus doesn't since He now has to find someone else to reach her with the gospel of peace."
In case you are wondering, twelve pounds was about twenty dollars back then, but that isn't the point, is it? The point is that we have a tendency to sell for pennies those things most valuable: our character, relationships, reputations, influence.
Speaking of which... how much do you want for it?