Rare and Valuable

This article is based on the message "Rare and Valuable" by Pastor Arthur Green at RiverALIVE in Gainesville, TX on April 5, 2020. To hear this message as it was presented, please visit RiverALIVE on YouTube.

One morning during rush hour in 2007, the famous violinist Joshua Bell opened his case and pulled out his famous Stradivarius violin at the metro station in Washington D.C. as an experiment for the Washington Post. He was asked to play his rare violin to those passing by in order to observe their response. He played many intricate musical masterpieces with his valuable violin that morning but the commuters paid him little to no attention at all. Just two days earlier, he played at the Boston Symphony Hall to a sold out crowd at $100 per ticket. Video cameras captured the experiment at the metro. The video showed that out of the 1,097 people who passed by, only seven lingered for any period of time to listen and only one recognized him. It was clear the metro station crowd neither recognized nor appreciated the gifted musician and his rare and valuable violin.

This story has many applications. One is the fact that unrecognized value and beauty is all around us. There’s also a lot of people who relate to this story. Many who, for whatever reason, see themselves similarly out of place and playing for the wrong crowd in their own sort of "metro station" life. God has something better than this for you. God wants you in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, with the right people. He wants you perfectly fitted to use the gift He’s given you on the stage of His will. There is a sort of spiritual stage in the kingdom of God for each of us and it is ours to pursue. God’s purpose and plan includes His people shining as a light to the world. How is it that such a gifted musician as Joshua Bell and his Stradivarius is overlooked, unappreciated, and ignored? In a similar fashion, how is it that the things of God and His people can be esteemed common? Jeremiah the prophet asked the same question.

How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out on the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! - Lamentations 4:1-2

Gold nuggets stand out from common stones. If someone finds one, he rejoices because he knows how rare and valuable it is. God’s people are the precious stones of Zion in this verse. They are like rare and valuable stones standing out from that which is common. How is it then that these precious stones of Zion are esteemed no greater than common stones? Many times it is from a lack of respect and appreciation of the gift within us by others, as well as ourselves. We forget sometimes we need to stir up the gift of God within us. God is setting a stage for the people of God and like the days of Daniel, people will look to the Church for answers.

In Daniel Chapter 2, we are told of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon dreaming a dream. The dream troubled him and he asked his magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers to tell him the meaning of the dream. There was one problem. Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember the dream. He demanded that the sorcerers and magicians not only tell him the dream’s meaning but to also tell him what he dreamed. The sorcerers and magicians respectfully told the king he was crazy for asking such a rare thing from them. The king became angry and gave a decree that they should all be put to death. When Daniel heard about it, he approached the king and asked to be given a little time and he would tell him the dream and interpretation. Daniel had an excellent spirit within him. He went to his house where he, and his companions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego sought the Lord about the matter. God revealed to them both the dream and its interpretation. Daniel then went and told the king all the revelations the Lord had revealed concerning the dream and the lives of the people were spared.

In many ways, we find ourselves on a similar stage in time. Daniel 11:32-33 has been quoted many times and bears repeating ...the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.  And they that understand among the people shall instruct many… It’s important that we come into understanding of who God has created us to be in Christ. Those who hold the testimony of Jesus Christ are considered by God to be rare and valuable. You don’t have to tell everyone you're rare and valuable; just be rare and valuable. This is what God is trying to relate to His children. God wants you to know who you are in Christ and who He’s created you to be.

Sometimes like Joshua Bell in the metro experiment, the crowd around us doesn’t appreciate our gift. When those around us are not on the same page as us they may not recognize us or our gift. They may try to discredit you treating you as something common. Not everyone will receive instruction and some may scorn our witness. We would do well to heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:6 and give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

It is important to God that we be around like minded believers. Not only like minded with each other but also like minded according to Jesus. In the same way that there were some who did recognize Joshua Bell in that metro station, there will be some who recognize God’s gifts within us even if we’re out of place, but never to the degree God desires.

God wants you to come out and be separate because He’s placed something inside you that’s rare and valuable. What’s in you is like a treasure hidden in a field or a pearl of great price. Jesus once compared the kingdom of heaven to a net that was cast into the sea and gathered in every kind of fish. After it was drawn in, they gathered the good into their vessel but cast the bad away. He explained to his disciples that this is what it will be like at the end of the world. He asked them if they understood and they told him they did. Jesus compared them to householders that should distribute out of their goods both old and new because they understood his revelations of the kingdom of God. (Mt. 13:44-52) Revelation of God is a treasure and those who hear and understand are to share those treasures with others.

Joseph was another rare and valuable instrument of the Lord. He too, found himself in what he thought was the wrong place at the wrong time. He was wrongfully sold into slavery, and later cast into jail. However, it’s while he was in jail that he learned many things in preparation for the stage God had for him. God brought Joseph out of jail and gave him revelation knowledge that resulted in Pharaoh setting him over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh recognized Joseph had the Spirit of God. Joseph learned faithfulness is the key. (Gen. 41) God has a plan to stand each of His precious children on the stage He has prepared them for. Joseph found himself front and center on the world’s stage with Pharaoh because Pharaoh recognized the rare and valuable gift in Joseph.

Trust the process. What you're going through is accounting for where God has brought you and where He is leading. Many are about to step onto the stage of God’s design. The gift that God has placed in you is rare and valuable. Surrender it to God and say, not your will, but God’s will be done. Proverbs 18:16 says A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. A gift will open doors and take you to places you will never get to on your own. You are not a common stone but a gold nugget, an oyster with a pearl, a precious stone, and God has great plans for the gift within you.

If Joshua Bell would have judged the value of his gift by the people's response, he might have thought he wasn't gifted at all and just another common musician. This same experiment was reenacted seven years later. This time the metro station was packed. The Stradivarius violin Joshua Bell was playing was originally designed by Antonio Stradavari in 1713 and considered by many to be one of the best ever made. Joshua Bell is said to have purchased it for $4 million dollars and is estimated to be worth $10 million dollars. Unfortunately, it was later stolen. Even though that rare violin is out of the master's hand, it doesn't make it any less valuable. It is just in the wrong hands. This is exactly what the devil wants to do to us all. He wants us out of the Master's hands. Jesus, the Good Shepherd who seeks and saves that which is lost, will never give up looking for you. God will watch for you like the father of the prodigal son of old. Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you. It is a rare and valuable thing.