Have you ever had a garage sale at your house?
Brooke and I have hosted a few successful garage sales during our 11 years of marriage, and by “successful” I mean that we are still married.
Garage sales are fun, aren’t they? When I say “fun,” I mean “awful.” The only part I don’t hate about a garage sale is the 4-inch stack of wrinkled one-dollar bills at the end that means we will get at least one sit-down meal at a semi-nice restaurant in exchange for all of our stuff and all of our trouble. Everything else about a garage sale is absolutely terrible. The worst part about a garage sale is the marriage-threatening process of deciding what to sell and what not to sell. These discussions always seem to end up on the level of hostage negotiations, and for some reason, my hostages always die. What’s the old saying? “One man’s treasure is another woman’s opportunity to make 75 cents”? Just because it’s at the bottom of a box in the basement with a family of spiders living in it does NOT mean that I don’t need it, woman!
I love my wife.
I have also noticed that I tend to become quite the salesman at garage sales. I try to “work the crowd,” convincing the people that they NEED my junk. I once talked a grown man into buying a pair of fancy shoes from me for $5. “How fancy were they?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you asked. These shoes were so fancy that they came in their own velvet bag. You heard me right: velvet. When I saw this man and his wife pull into our driveway in their nice-ish car, I knew exactly which item he needed, and I actively sold him those fancy shoes. He needed them; he just didn’t know it yet. This was a proud moment for me, and Brooke was watching. If she’s being honest, she never thought I would sell those shoes; but she was happily proven wrong. If I’m being honest, this may have been the moment when Brooke thought to herself, “I married the right person.”
IMPORTANT NOTE: In case you’re wondering - no - I have never bought a pair of “fancy shoes” in a velvet bag. They were a gift. A gift that I sold for $5. That’s a 500% profit, if you’re counting in pennies…and I am.
One of the cardinal rules of a garage sale – and you will never see anyone trying to break this rule – is that all of the stuff for sale is OUTSIDE. No one ever comes to a garage sale, looks around, and then says, “Ok, let’s take a look at what you have in the house now.” It is understood by everyone that the stuff inside the house is NOT FOR SALE. Why? The reason is because – against all odds - it somehow passed the “wife filter,” and because there are certain things that are just not for sale.
Are there some things in your life that are not for sale? There should be.
I’m not talking about your favorite couch, your wedding ring, or your family photos; I’m talking about the truly important things in your life: your character, your integrity, your faith, your hope, or your reputation. The Bible is filled with people who “sold” their most valuable possessions at “garage sale” prices, and I would like to focus on one of those examples, taken from I Kings 13.
In this account, an unnamed “man of God” was given some very clear and specific instructions from God during his mission to prophesy against king Jeroboam: “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came” (I Kings 13:9, 17). For our purposes, this was a valuable truth that the man of God was not supposed to “sell.”
During his interactions with king Jeroboam – found in vs. 1-9 - this man of God seems to have a keen grasp on the importance of this truth, and he quickly refuses the king’s offer to “stay for dinner” (vs. 6-9). In other words, the king wanted to “go inside during the garage sale,” and this man promptly told him, “No!”
However, things change drastically in the next part of this story.
As this man of God traveled home, he stopped to rest under an oak tree, and was joined by an “old prophet” who lived nearby. This old prophet had heard about this man of God’s interactions with the king, and for whatever reason, wanted to spend some time with him. After inviting the man of God to his home for a meal, the old prophet is told “No!” Again, this seems to be something that is “not for sale.” So far, so good, right?
Then the old prophet does something not so nice: he lies to the man of God. He tells him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water’.” In other words, he weasels his way inside the house during the garage sale. And maybe it was because the man of God was so hungry, or maybe he was simply unprepared for this deception, but he goes to his house for a meal.
He SELLS his truth.
And the price was high. We are told in the following verses that God literally speaks through the old prophet during the meal and tells this man of God that he has been disobedient and that his “body shall not come to the tomb of [his] fathers” (vs. 22). On his way home, the man of God is attacked and killed by a lion. By any standard, this was not a “successful garage sale,” was it?
We are told in Proverbs 23:23 to “Buy truth, and do not sell it…”
We would do well to remember that truth is valuable, and that it does not belong in a garage sale. When it comes to truth, we should not sell it, bargain with it, or even “bring it outside,” no matter who tries to buy it from us!
May we all be on guard against kings, prophets, friends, parents, children, teachers, preachers, spouses, authors, presidents, bloggers, actors, singers, coaches, or anyone else who tries to get us to sell God’s truth!
And let’s not forget the theological thrust of this article: having garage sales at your home is a sin.