A Pearl of Great Value
This is Day 23 of my 40 day Lenten Blog.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."Matthew 13:44.
"Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46.
These two parables are not the same, though they are often believed to be. In the first, God is the treasure. In the second, God is the treasure seeker.
The first explains that getting to heaven is so valuable that it is worth giving up all of our earthly possessions--even our own life-- to achieve it. Nothing else comes close to the value of God.
The second explains how God searches for those people who are of great value. When He finds one, just one, He sells all He has to buy it. But what does sell? Gold? Fine art? A beach house in Panama City? No, He sells His own life. He trades His blood in the incarnate body of Jesus Christ, for one single pearl of great value. Just one.
Now, hopefully and by God's grace, there is not just one single pearl that achieves Heaven, because I'm confident I would not be that pearl. But the point is that He was willing to shed His blood and die if only to save one pearl of great value. That is how valuable that one pearl is. It's similar to His willingness to leave the 99 sheep to pursue the one that wandered off.
Notice though, that God searches through many pearls, looking for pearls of great value. God is not searching for just any pearl. He isn't searching for pearls that are good enough. He wants pearls of great value.
That is what we want to be--pearls of great value. How are we of great value? I'm not sure exactly, but thankfully I do know that it doesn't mean I have to be perfect. King David, whom God called a man after His own heart, was an adulterer and murderer. Peter denied Him three times. Paul persecuted Him. Perfection is not the litmus test.
We are perhaps given a hint in Revelation 3. This is the letter to Laodicea, a wealthy area where people are comfortable with their existence. John is told to write to them and say, "I know your works: you are neither cold not hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." (Rev. 3:15-17)
So, we at least know what is NOT a pearl of great value--a person who is lukewarm. A few verses later the people of Laodicea are told to be "zealous."
I fear that I am all too often lukewarm. Like the people of Laodicea I am comfortable in my life. I don't want anything to upset it. Sure, I go to church every week. I participate in the life of the church, helping where needed. I confess my sins. I read my Bible. I pray. But I'm sure the church in Laodicea did all of those things too. But they were still lukewarm.
To be the pearl of great value in the second parable, I must be the man who finds the treasure in the first parable. I must realize that the treasure is so valuable that it is worth more than any of the comforts of my life. It is in fact more valuable than my life. God traded His physical life for the pearl of great value, thus to be of great value, I must be willing to trade my physical life for the treasure in the field. Then I will be zealous. Then I will not be lukewarm, but on fire!