I read a story about a mischievous teenager who decided to play a joke on a local store owner. So, one evening he crept into his showroom and switched the price tags on the merchandise.
When he was finished with his prank, the coats on the bargain rack were priced as if they were expensive name brands, and the luxurious furs were ridiculously under-valued. Designer purses were under $20 while poorly-made, imported canvas backpacks and book bags were tagged with triple digit prices. Fine diamond jewelry was undervalued while costume necklaces would set customers back a month’s wages.
The effect of the teen’s evening was to invert the intent of the owner by diminishing that which was of great worth and exaggerating things of little value.
While the vandal in our story likely didn’t fool anyone for very long and probably meant no real harm, we have a REAL enemy in our world who isn’t toying around with us. (John 10:10) The Bible calls him the ‘father of lies,’ (John 8:44) and he maliciously and tirelessly works against the Owner of the world (Ps. 24:1) by subtly, and at times forcefully, “switching the tags” in an effort to confuse the world and lead them astray.
God has assigned high value to things such as faith, commitment, patience, generosity, forgiveness and selflessness. But the enemy of our souls changes it around and tells us that these virtues won’t lead to the happiness and success that we desire and thus are of little value. Many have fallen for his trick and have disregarded these treasured virtues for things of little real worth like status, materialism, and self-centeredness.
All of us make a multitude of decisions every day. Some choices, like whether to have a bagel or muffin for breakfast, are inconsequential (except to our waistline). But others can have far-reaching consequences with the power to alter the course of our lives and shape who we become for years into the future. That’s why God’s people must learn to build our lives with what is precious and discard low quality things that don’t have lasting power.
Ultimately, we all know that inflated price tags don’t really add to the worth of junk because in the end, costume jewelry is still costume jewelry. After a few wearings, the colored stones become cloudy and the finish tarnishes. But we can trust that the real stuff – material and spiritual – will eventually prove itself and continue to shine for generations.