“Precious” can describe many things. On one end of the scale, Gollum in Lord of the Rings called the ring that destroyed him “my precious” but the normal use is much more pleasant — precious is a new baby, a lovely little child, a wedding ring, an elderly friend, a true lover, a well-written page of sheet music, and in Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)
Lately, I’ve been noticing the variations in what people value or call precious. Some are name-droppers who put great stock in who they know or even who they see walk by. To them shaking hands with a movie star or having a fist bump with a golf pro is a cloud nine experience.
For others, their possessions are precious, perhaps a shoe collection, or designer clothes, an expensive car or the latest media equipment, or jewelry and furs. A house fire would devastate them.
The fashion magazines reveal how many value appearance and spend gobs of time and money on the latest claims to restore youth or halt aging. This love of youth and beauty is a huge industry because what people see in the mirror is precious.
Sometimes I feel the pull of those “precious” but oh so temporary values. Today’s devotional focuses on Psalm 73 whose author begins with confessing that his “feet had almost stumbled” because he was envious of the arrogant when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:2–3) Later, the New Testament tells God’s people . . .
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15–17)
The psalmist knew this too. God gave him discernment; he knew that what seems precious to those who ignore God will eventually fade away . . .
“Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” (Psalm 73:12–19)
For many, realizing that this world will pass away and all that is “precious” will rust, or rot, or wind up as nothing is a real downer. God knows this. He does not forbid me from enjoying my abundant life here on earth, yet lets me know that the good life will not last forever. Better yet, He gives me a better “precious” — Himself! The psalmist says it this way:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:25–28)
Jesus, dear Jesus, the life I have is filled with Your goodness, yet I know that all my ‘stuff’ could suddenly vanish. The news is filled with tragedies that do just that. People lose everything through fires, thefts, accidents, earthquakes, and other unexpected and unwanted traumatic events. However, instead of being fearful these make me consider what is more precious to me, such as family and friends, but most of all, You. No matter what happens, what comes to an end, or is changed or taken or vanishes, You are always with me. You promised to never leave or forsake me. That is a precious promise from a precious Savior!