Summary: We should value what God wants above all to the point of giving up everything to gain it.
One time, Brother Jun was walking on the streets of Binondo. He then saw a ring on the sidewalk. But, it looked like an imitation jewelry. Nonetheless, he picked it up, brought it home and gave it to his wife, Sister Yvette. It remained in her jewelry box for about two years. Later on, she had it appraised. She was so surprised to learn that that ring is actually an expensive piece of jewelry. It’s a good thing Brother Jun did not toss it out! Something that he thought worthless is actually something that is of immense worth. Just the other day, I thought that would make a good introduction for my message today. So, I texted him to get his permission to share the story and also to ask how much is the estimated value of the ring. I just couldn’t believe the amount that I read in his reply.
Now, before you rush outside looking for a ring on the streets, allow me to share the story about two persons who also found something of great value. Let us open our Bibles to 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.”
At this point in the public ministry of our Lord Jesus, persecution from His enemies was slowly but surely accelerating. His disciples felt the heat. They left everything to follow the Lord. Instead of seeing a momentum for the kingdom, they saw a mob growing against Jesus. Probably, doubts crept into their hearts. “Is it really worth it to obey the Lord? Did I make the right decision to leave everything for His sake?” Our Lord wisely met with them privately and told them the parable of the lost treasure and the parable of the pearl of great price. He assured them that when they gave up everything for Him, they did not really lose it all and they did not really lose at all. They even gained when they gave it all up. This morning, we will talk about “Giving Up To Gain.”
Before we dive into the passage itself, let me lay a basic guideline in understanding what came to be labeled as “earthly stories with heavenly meanings.” Every story has a moral lesson. Every joke has a punch line. Every parable has one main point. That’s what we seek to discover when we study a parable. Look for that one, big idea. So, always ask, “What’s the main point of the parable?”
Basically, the two parables told about the discovery of something valuable and the decision to give up everything to gain the valuable find. But it is not just a case of “finder’s keepers, losers weepers.” The Lord did not condone or condemn the behavior of the merchant who found the pearl or the man who stumbled upon the hidden treasure. Isn’t that the way we would react when we find a good buy? When you rummage in a garage sale, we do the same thing. When we see something costly that is sold for a bargain price, we grab it immediately. We don’t usually say, “You know, you should have priced it higher for what it’s worth.” If the person selling the precious item were our friend, maybe we would do that. Otherwise, we would even put on a poker face and try to negotiate for an even lower price. The Lord is focusing our attention on the attitude and not on the action.
Let’s highlight some portions of the parables. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field... Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” Note the word, “Again.” That shows that the two parables are connected to each other. Twice, the Lord repeated the words, “kingdom of heaven.” So, the parables are talking about how valuable the kingdom of God is. That it is like a great treasure or a very rare pearl.
Now, what is the kingdom of God? Was Jesus referring to heaven or to that time in the future when Jesus would reign here on earth? Was He referring to His reign in our lives today? I believe the kingdom of God involves the present and the future, His reign both here on earth and there in heaven. In Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught us to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Note that the phrase “your kingdom” parallels the phrase “your will.” The kingdom of God is His will done on earth as it is in heaven. A kingdom implies a king. Last Friday, in the Passion Manila event, Brother Louie Giglio said, “We can only say, ‘Yes, Lord!’ If He is really our Lord, we can only say ‘Yes’ to Him. We can’t say ‘No, Lord!’ or ‘Later, Lord!’ or ‘Maybe, Lord!’” The question now is, “Would you really dare to say, ‘Yes, Lord’? Would you really pray, ‘Your will be done in my life’?”