I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve heard the phrase “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” When I was younger I used to watch shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars on the History Channel. American Pickers is a show where two men drive around the country to people who have a massive collection of stuff and buy things that they think they can make some money off of. Many times they would buy old gas station signs, vintage bicycles, lamps; anything they thought they could clean up and sell for a profit. As was the case with most of the houses they went to, I would see a barn full of random things and just think it was a pile full of trash, but sure enough Mike and Frank would spend a good amount of money to purchase some of these things, and at the end of the show it would show how much profit they earned. Pawn Stars was very similar to this. People would bring in what they considered to be treasure and see how much money they could squeeze out of the workers. Sometimes they found out that their “treasure” wasn’t really treasure after all and they wouldn’t get nearly as much money as they were hoping for. Other times people struck gold and walked out of the store with far more than they could ever imagine. I would watch Pawn Stars with a lot of the stuff people brought in and just think why in the world would anyone want to buy this and then before you know it, they would walk out with a couple hundred dollars. Someone could walk in with an old burnt spatula they found out was used by Teddy Roosevelt and leave $4,000 richer than they entered. To me, a lot of this stuff is nothing but junk, but to many others as it turns out, these things were their treasure. I’m not sure why either of these shows were on the History Channel because I wasn’t learning much about history by watching them, but if anything it taught me the true meaning of this famous saying.
We see this phrase play out in our lives a countless number of times, many of which go unnoticed. For example, it is very common when you live in Ohio to complain about the weather. Despite the fact that it seems like it never gets warm, Ohio weather is just so unbelievably predictable. You can go to bed with it dry outside, wake up to four inches of snow, and then by the end of the day it be 60 degrees and sunny and all of the snow is melted. I wish I could say this is an exaggeration but it is not. Another big weather complaint is about the rain. Whenever a decent period of time passes with consistent rain, people start mumbling under their breath and griping that the sun never comes out. To them, this weather is junk, but to many people in this world, they need the rain to survive. There are people in rural areas of America that make their money off of rain. If it doesn’t rain, they don’t grow crops, and if they don’t grow crops, they don’t make any money. To them, rain is a treasure that they cherish every time they get the opportunity. It’s all about your perspective and how you choose to view things. We also more commonly do this with material things. The iPhone 7 comes out, then the iPhone 8, then the iPhone 10, next thing you know you can’t stand the iPhone 6 that you own. Even though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, you start to convince yourself that it’s old, slow, and outdated. What you once viewed as precious is now junk. But once again, to many people in this world, having an iPhone 6 would be something they could not even fathom receiving. They’re so concerned with putting food on the table night in and night out that they can’t even think about having an iPhone. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
We also see many examples of this in the Bible. The first thing that pops into my mind is the story of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44. Here we are told of rich people coming in and placing very large sums in the offering box, and then a widow comes in and places two small copper coins. I can’t imagine the look those rich people gave her. They just put in loads of coins and then this woman comes and just thinks she can place two coins in the pot and be fine. Then Jesus steps up and praises her for what she’s done, for this offering was all that she had to live on. The two small coins she offered make up a kodrantes, which was a Roman coin worth about 1/64 of a day’s wage for a laborer. 1/64 of a DAY’S wage, and that is all that she had to live on. The rich people passing by probably scoffed at her, looked at her weird, maybe even laughed at the widow, but what was junk to them was everything to the widow, and she was willing to give it up to give back to God.
Despite all of these things that I have listed, nothing represents the meaning of the popular saying better than the life of Jesus Christ. Thought of as trash to the Romans, Jesus was constantly tested and sought out to be arrested and killed. When it was finally His time to go, He was mocked, tortured, spit on, hung up on a cross for all who were around to witness. To the people who committed this unthinkable act, Jesus was nothing more than junk. But to us, He is the absolute definition of treasure. He died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and it is through His amazing grace that we will have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him someday, as long as we do what He has commanded us. Because Jesus is our treasure, we should be willing to give nothing short of what the widow gave to Him: everything we have. If we do this, we can spend eternity with this very treasure, and bask in His glory. Isaiah 40:31: “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Written By: Isaac May