String of Pearls
Originally scheduled for August 26
A goodly part of the study of economics
concerns itself with the difference between the price of something
and the value of that same thing. We are generally familiar with two
There are items of great value, which
carry a great price. One might think of a sports car that can take
you from 70 years old to 18 in 2.4 seconds.
There are things which are of great
value to someone, but very low price. Think of a child receiving a
balloon animal. The latex balloon is very inexpensive, but the glow
on the child’s face is priceless.
Oscar Wilde once said the cynic is a man who
knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. An honest
man knows both price and value.
One of the marvelous examples of this is given
by St. Paul in this passage:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as
loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to
be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count
them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him,
not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that
which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from
God on the basis of faith,
To understand this, consider the value of the
Law of Moses. In particular, think of the Ten Commandments. The
Mosaic law greatly surpassed the other ancient codes of law and
order, and much of it is still found in our legal system today. It
is a superb example to us. Paul had increased the value of the Law
to himself by becoming a Pharisee. He studied the law all of his
life; it was his life’s work. It is as if you studied to become a
brain surgeon and were suddenly told you need to be an auto
mechanic. That’s how much Paul gave up for Christ. It might be said
that he exchanged a string of pearls (the Law) for the Pearl of
But that is not how you received the Lord.
Consider the price you paid for the privilege of taking communion
this morning. You received salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ at
no cost to you. You didn’t make a down payment; nothing was required
of you financially. It was given to you by grace. You got it free.
But that is not the value of salvation; just the price.
The value of salvation can easily be seen by
what it cost God to do it — the life of his son. Christ became a
human being like us, lived and taught, and then died a horrible
death so that we might have that free grace. It is the great example
of God’s character:
It shows his goodness, his desire to
increase righteousness by justifying us.
It shows his mercy, the product of
his love for the work of his hands.
So as you partake this morning, stopped to
remember the value you have received and the price you did not have