To illustrate the mixed-up values of his day, Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard told a modern day parable about thieves who broke into a jewelry store at night. Instead of stealing anything, they merely switched the price tags, putting high-value tickets on costume jewelry and bargain tags on premium gems.

I find that to be a wonderful illustration of what Jesus said when he came. He looked at the world's values and declared them to be upside down. All of the price tags were wrong. Greatness, he said, is to be found in service. Self-sacrifice is the only way to save one's life. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Statement after statement sought to change the priorities and preferences of mankind.

In Revelation chapter 2, we find this statement from Jesus to a group of Christians: "I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!" (Revelation 2:9). Persecuted and oppressed because of their faith, these followers of Jesus had fallen on hard times financially. Yet Jesus could look at them and declare them rich.

Then Jesus turns to another group of believers and tells them: "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Jesus doesn't see things the way the world sees them. He knew that these wealthy Christians were destitute on the inside.

True riches are not measured with dollar signs. They can't be found in storage units or warehouses. True wealth doesn't rise and fall with the stock market. A man can have lots of money and plenty of possessions, yet be very poor indeed. We can't trust the world's judgment as to who is rich and who is poor. The price tags aren't in the right place.

So what matters? Relationships. Our relationship with God and our relationship with other people. Money, health, youth, possessions ... these are all temporary things that can be lost as quickly as they are gained. Being right with God is the only eternal thing. And we can't be right with God if we aren't right with the people around us.

The world's price tags aren't in the right place
Don't trust in the tags that the world has put on the things around us. Only Jesus can tell us what is really of value. Only Jesus can make us rich in the ways that count. If you want to discuss this, I'm ready to hear from you. Write to me at or leave a comment at .

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