These gems in the national museum of natural history are among the most precious stones known to mankind. They are priceless.
This does not mean that they are without monetary value; it only means that no one you or I know could ever hope to have enough money to buy one of them.
They have storied histories. This means some of the stories you hear about them are true, but some are questionable. There are stories that one of them is cursed—that those who own it come to tragic ends. A former owner, who evidently passed away peacefully, laughed at the stories. It is said that the woman who owned one of these large diamond used to let her Great Dane wear it.
All of the pendants, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings in this collection are exquisite artistic creations, carefully crafted in gold and silver to display in the best light these rare and fine diamonds, sapphires, or rubies.
And yet—what good are they?
The fact that they are here and their past owners are gone simply attests to the truth of the saying: “You can’t take it with you.”
They lie under guard in museums, to be appreciated only by the few who happen upon them. They represent great wealth—but this wealth accomplishes nothing. It does not feed the poor, educate the unlearned, help to heal the sick, or bring comfort to those in need. What good is it? It simply attests to the fact that a few privileged people have been able to amass great fortunes.
There is in all of us something that accords honor and respect to the people who own these objects in life. Why? Why do we so often feel a certain awe toward people who possess such rare objects? Is there anything in those gems alone that could endow their owners with special qualities?
In this same museum there is an exhibit of mummies, accompanied by an explanation of Egyptian beliefs about the hereafter. The Egyptians believed that our eternal destiny would be determined not but the weight or quality of anything we possessed in mortal life, but by the weight and purity of our souls.
Please understand that I am not judging the people who owned these rare gems. I did not know them. They may have been charitable, caring individuals who used their wealth to accomplish great good among their fellow beings. They may have amassed untold treasures of the soul, the kind the Lord Jesus Christ talked about. None of us can know the weight of their souls.
But this exhibition of opulence and wealth raises a question that each one who sees it may need to consider.
What kind of treasures are we amassing in the things we collect in this life and the things we pursue every day? Are we laying up the kind of treasure we can take with us?