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‘Not for sale’

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

An interesting aspect of my childhood is that I grew up in an antique shop.

My father sold antique furniture (he retired early from a career in banking to pursue his real love, buying and selling old stuff). He converted our home into a sort of shop from which to sell his wares.

Daddy was always out on the road in his Country Squire station wagon visiting antique malls and antique shows and antique shops all over the east coast and scooping up treasures. He had a good eye for quality 18th- and 19th-century American furniture and decorative items. Our home was filled with beautiful old chairs, tables, chests of drawers, oriental rugs and Chinese-export porcelain — lots of blue Chinese-export porcelain.

We lived with and used all of these antiquities, and some were quite useful. Bed-warmers, for instance — you fill a long-handled metal container with coals from the fireplace and run that thing in-between your bedsheets. Mmmm. So nice on cold winter nights.

But most of the furniture and many of our decorative items were also for sale. Daddy had folks in by invitation to our home to look at and hopefully to buy some of the things my family used every day.

Pick up a lamp, it had a little price tag stuck on the bottom. Chairs had price tags attached to their rungs. A blanket chest’s price would be found inside its lid.

I remember, years after Daddy closed his antique business, turning over an ashtray in the living room (people smoked back then) and seeing that it still had a price sticker affixed to it – good memories.

But among all of the variously-priced objects in my childhood home, there were some things that were just too precious to sell. My old ladder-back highchair, an embroidered picture of the Holy Family, and my rope bed. On things we wanted to keep, Daddy placed a sticker with just three letters — NFS (Not For Sale). He meant it, too — no matter what people offered, Daddy wouldn’t part with something marked NFS.

I sometimes think about those stickers and that phrase, not for sale, in connection with my faith in God in Jesus Christ. What are my faith’s non-negotiables, those beliefs and principles that I will not sell out on or depart from, whatever the cost? The Bible reminds us over and over again that we are precious in God’s sight, and that we who follow Christ were “bought with a price” — Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.

St. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus with a reminder that “…we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Imagine that. God has placed a “Not For Sale” sticker on all of us, for we are his handiwork, and each of us has a purpose and gifts that the Lord has given only to us. These gifts aren’t for our own benefit but for the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

If we are made by God and saved by Christ — well, then, you can’t put a price on our worth. May the Lord help us to remember that we are infinitely special and precious, and as the season of Lent begins next week, let’s examine our lives in the light of that “Not For Sale” label we all bear.

REV. SUSIE THOMAS is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. Her email address is sthomas@farmvilleumc.org.