Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Ask my son oldest son what’s his favorite color, and he will tell you, “I don’t have a favorite color.” He resists the whole “favorites” trend in general–no favorite food, TV show, game, or team. My other children have a running joke about which of them is our favorite child. Our third even added, “a.k.a. not the favorite child” next to his name in his mother’s cell phone, and “a.k.a. favorite child” next to his brother’s name in the phone.
It’s not written anywhere that you have to have a favorite color or food. As long as we don’t actually show favoritism to any of our children, there is no harm in joking around about it in the family.
But there is an area of life in which favorites make a spiritual difference. What is our favorite of all things? What tops the list of all the things we love? What is our greatest treasure?
Both of Jesus’ little stories tell us, “God’s kingdom is worth so much it is worth more than everything else you have put together.” But people come to discover that in different ways.
Some people stumble upon God’s kingdom and what it is worth. They weren’t on any sort of quest or search. The man in the first parable wasn’t going through the fields with his metal detector and a shovel, thinking he was going to find a treasure. He found it completely by accident.
That’s not because God tried to make his kingdom hard to find. Often it is right there in front of our nose. Tons of people go stomping through the field and don’t see anything at all because sin has made us spiritually blind. It’s not a detail that fits into the parable as Jesus tells it, but God has to guide our path to the treasure, and then open our eyes, so that we can see it when we trip over it.
Other people find the gospel when they have been on a search, “like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” Maybe their family isn’t working the way it is supposed to, and they are searching through the religions and philosophies of the world to find some help. Maybe their career has hit a roadblock, and they have some idea that a little religion might be what they need to inspire them to take their game to the next level. Maybe they just sense an emptiness in their lives. “Is this all there is? There has got to be something more.” So they go looking.
Because they don’t understand their true need, they don’t really know what they are looking for. “The customer is always right” some salesmen will tell you. Discover someone’s felt needs, and then give them what they want. That won’t work in religion, though. God needs to show us what our true needs are before he can fill them. Looking for fine pearls is not the same thing as looking for the one pearl of great price.
So here we are, members of God’s Kingdom, staring at the great treasure and priceless pearl of God’s grace. What is Jesus saying to us? An honest man who professed to be a Christian once told me that his priorities went like this: Business first, family second, God third. I’m sure you know in your head that isn’t right.
But if in our hearts God doesn’t make it to the very top of our list, if he isn’t so far above family and possessions and work and education that we would be willing to give it all up for him, then Jesus’ words are calling us to repent. If we have lost all of the excitement about our place in God’s Kingdom, like the two men in the parables, the old self has been gaining ground in our hearts and needs to be crucified again.
Then we need to spend some time enjoying our great treasure and gazing at our priceless pearl. Before we got engaged, after I bought the ring, I would take the ring I bought my wife out from time to time, turn it in my hands, and just enjoy the sparkle.
Get the gospel out of its box, open up your Bible, and enjoy the sparkle. Listen to your heavenly Father’s “I love yous.” See the sacrifice Jesus made to forgive you. Let the promise and the peace and the hope sink in, and God’s Kingdom will be your greatest treasure, so much so that you will know that it’s worth everything.