1 Peter 1:3-4 | Philippians 3:8-9 | Matthew 13:44-45 | 1 Samuel 12:21 | Isaiah 41:29 | Job 28:18-19 | 2 Chronicles 9:20

If it’s pricey, it isn’t priceless.

You are no doubt familiar with things that are pricey. These days, anything new and authentic is pricey. It has a high price. New cars, for instance…they cost more than most houses did 50 years ago! New smartphones…they have doubled in price in the last 10 years.

But can you think of something so valuable that you could not put a price on it? Something which, if someone asked, “How much would you take for that?” you would not be able to offer a number?

There are two main things the authors of the Bible (and Jesus himself) call “priceless” in scripture: 1) The Kingdom of Heaven, and 2) a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 

1 Peter 1:3b-4 NLT

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

Philippians 3:8-9a NLT

Knowing Jesus is a priceless gift. So is inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven and living there forever! Jesus used many metaphors to describe its value in his parables.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Matthew 13:44-45 NLT

But sometimes, to really understand something, you need to know what it is not. For example, a car is any four-wheeled automobile that is not a truck or van. Or, “That can’t be a cardinal, because cardinals are not blue.”

The opposite of “priceless” is “worthless”. From a linguistic standpoint, “worthless” makes more sense than “priceless”, because “without worth” is easier to grasp than “without price” in light of their opposing definitions. 

What does the Bible call worthless?

Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless!

1 Samuel 12:21 NLT

See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.

Isaiah 41:29 NLT

Worshiping idols is referred to as a worthless practice multiple times in scripture. And before you write this off as outdated, consider the fact that we still get caught up in idolatry today. People may worship their career, their possessions, their goals, etc.  

Biblical authors even call some pricey things worthless when comparing them to something priceless–like wisdom.

The price of wisdom is far above rubies. Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold.

Job 28:18b-19 NLT

All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!

2 Chronicles 9:20 NLT

So let’s recap: Some pricey things can be worthless, while other things–like a relationship with Jesus–are priceless. Why is this important? The next time you find yourself striving for some pricey thing, ask yourself this: “Could I be going after something priceless instead?” Because, sadly, many of the things we strive for turn out to be worthless.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Have you ever gotten something pricey, only to later view it as worthless? Was it a cellphone or other piece of technology? Was it a name-brand item of clothing?
  • Have you ever seen something go from being worthless to priceless? How does this relate to Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”
  • Why is it helpful to consider whether something is worthless, pricey, or priceless? Can it help you focus your time and efforts? How?

Challenge: Sliding Scales

It is easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest that today has to offer. But often, what is pricey today is worthless tomorrow. And sometimes…what seems worthless is actually priceless. Picture this: the top-of-the-line, most sought-after, expensive smartphone on the market now…in a trash can. And it works just how it was designed to. Sounds improbable? What if the trash can was ten years from now? 

The columns below are categories of items that have gone from being worthless to being pricey and vice versa, from pricey to priceless, and from worthless to priceless. Your challenge is to fill up the columns with as many examples as you can from each category. (And please be more specific than our examples.) 

Worthless to PriceyPricey to WorthlessPricey to PricelessWorthless to Priceless
vintage jewelryfilm camerascertain classic carsold family photos

Once you have come to a stopping point, let this rest for a while. Set an alarm to revisit it in a few months. When you do, re-evaluate. Do you have anything to add? Anything to move to a different category? What if you set an alarm to re-evaluate five or ten years from now?