(Jesus said) "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:26
Measuring about an inch across, it's the kind of thing a person throws away every day.
Even so, according to the experts, pound for pound, the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp is probably the most valuable thing on earth.
Issued in 1856, the stamp, which is a one of a kind, was saved from loss when, in 1873, 12-year-old Louis Vernon Vaughan soaked the stamp off of an envelope he had found among his uncle's papers. The slightly dingy, heavily cancelled, undistinguished-looking stamp was placed in an album. There it stayed for a lengthy period of time.
Still, when the stamp came to light, its value soared. After World War I, France claimed the stamp as part of the compensation which needed to be paid by Germany. In 1980 John du Pont set a record when he paid $935,000 for the miniscule stamp.
When the stamp goes for sale today at Sotheby's, it is expected the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta may be sold for as much as $20,000,000. Yup, that's a 20 with six zeros behind it.
That's the news story you will hear reported on your evening news.
Still, I would like to point out the experts are not quite right in some of what they've said. Pound for pound this stamp is not the most valuable thing in the world, and $20,000,000 is not a record payment price.
No, the most valuable thing in this world is your immortal soul. Although Scripture is silent as to the weight of that soul, I don't think it can weigh heavily if it were to be placed on someone's scale.
Even so, the Heavenly Father felt your soul was so valuable He was willing to sacrifice the life of His only Son to save you. Motivated by a grace which is far beyond anything we can imagine or comprehend, reaching out in mercy to rescue something which should have ended up on the eternal garbage dump of hell, God gave up His Son so you might be saved.
It was an incredibly high price to pay. If you think the stamp pictured above is dingy, you should have seen the condition of your sin-saturated soul. Anyone else might have thought your soul worthless and hardly worth the bother of trying to purchase, but the Triune God is not just Anyone.
Our Lord is incredible and His actions are -- from a human point of view -- unbelievable. Even as you would not sacrifice a child to win a stamp, the Lord should not have sacrificed His Son to save your soul.
It shouldn't have happened, but it did. Now, through Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and by Holy Spirit-given faith, we will belong to the Lord forever.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the most valuable Person in the universe was sacrificed to save my soul. May I be humbled by Your love and His willingness to die so I might live. In Jesus' I ask it. Amen.
The Savior asked His followers to share Him. Sadly, doing so can be frightening and intimidating. If you would like to learn how to be more comfortable in fulfilling the Lord's request, Lutheran Hour Ministries is holding a SENT Outreach Conference in Detroit, covering the dates of July 24-27. For more information see www.lhm.org/conference.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries