Yard Sale Theology


My wife co-ran a yard sale recently. One item for sale was a small decorative cross. My wife planned to sell it for 25 cents. Before she could price it she noticed a man looking at it. Subtlely, he removed a 50 cent sticker from a neighboring item and placed it on the cross. My wife and I had heard of people switching or altering yard sale price tags but hadn’t experienced it before.

The man brought the cross to my wife. Mildly bemused, she charged him 50 cents–the price he fraudulently set. As the man left, he put the cherry of irony on the whole episode: Looking very sincere, he told my wife, “I have a friend who really needs this right now.”

My wife and I traded incredulous chuckles as she related this story. But this very human anecdote sparked some serious thoughts.

1) It’s always someone else who needs the cross. Our yard-saler deceitfully tagged the cross with the price he wanted. Then he told my wife he was buying it as a mercy gift. Did he say this to look religious? To look caring? To assuage his conscience? The Lord knows. Bottom line, he was moving in his flesh. All that un-crucified behavior but it’s his friend who needs the cross. Riiiight…

But this is so typical.

It’s our unsaved neighbor who needs the cross. Or it’s that irreverent guy at church. Or the person whose politics we disagree with. Or it’s…anybody else. Truthfully, if we want to see who really needs the cross we need look no further than the nearest mirror.

2) The cross is mainly decorative. We like the cross on the wall more than in our hearts. We like to be known as good, religious people. We like how the blood of Jesus dresses up our fallen souls. But it’s a different story when it comes to the cross touching our self-interest, self-regard, or our self period.

3) If you seek to save, you lose. My wife planned to sell the cross for 25 cents. Through clever scheming the man managed to pay 50 cents–double the price. Moving based on personal gain cost him (Luke 9:23-24). To top it off, he had no idea how completely his ruse failed. As scripture says, “He catches the wise in their craftiness” (1 Cor. 3:19).

 4) The one who is faithful in small things will be trusted with more. If the Lord can’t trust me in the matter of a 25 cent cross at a yard sale, how can He trust me with anything truly valuable in His kingdom? This isn’t to say He’s done with me. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is still in full vigor. He is bent on conforming me to the image of the Son, and He’ll use everything good, bad, or ugly toward that end (Rom. 8:28-29). But His trust in me will be in proportion to my maturity. I don’t let my four year old drive the car. I don’t even let my nine year old drive. But someday, I’ll let my 16 year old drive (maybe) (Matt. 25:14-30).

So there you have it. I’m done peddling my assortment of second-hand thoughts. If you have anything to add to this theological yard sale, be my guest. Consider the comment box the “free box” so often seen at yard sales–available to anyone!

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