Summary: Parables for Seekers, Pt. 2
THE PEARL OF GREATEST PRICE (MATTHEW 13:44-46)
Several years ago, USA Today (10/24/97) reported the results of a Roper Starch Worldwide survey of the wealthiest 1 percent of U.S. households – the 1 million households that have an annual income of at least $250,000 or a net worth at least $2.5 million. They were asked what they were willing to pay for various sources of happiness, from being president to a place in heaven.
Two items were worth less than $100,000 to respondents. At the bottom of the list was “being president,” which was worth only $55,000; “great beauty” was rated higher at $83,000.
The next three items rose to the $200,000s. The rich were willing to pay $206,000 for “reunion with a lost love,” $259,000 for “eternal youth” and $285,000 for “talent.”
The list then made a big jump to over $400,000. “Great intellect” was worth $407,000 and “true love” $487,000.
The most expensive and most prized on rich folks’ list is “a place in heaven,” which was worth $640,000 to them – more than twice what they were willing to part for “eternal youth” or “talent,” more than eight times the value of “great beauty” and more than eleven times the price tag for “being president.” (“If I were a Rich Man” USA Today 10/24/97)
Actually, the respondents were wrong about the worth of heaven. Salvation is worth much, much more than $640,000 plus inflation. People and money cannot buy salvation. Salvation cannot be bought; it has to be sought. Jesus compares salvation with finding lost, buried or hidden rare and precious treasures.
Why is salvation in heaven more precious than money and possessions on earth? Why is it the one dearest, indispensable crown jewel of all precious stones?
Only the Heavenly Treasures are Priceless
44 “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. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matt 13:44-46)
The date March 3, 1938, was a turning point in the fortunes of the king of Saudi Arabia, King Abd-al-Aziz ibn Saud. Previously, the king and the country’s fortunes were tied to the seasonal pilgrims who made the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. Recession and unrest, however, would reduce the country’s visitors and the king’s coffers.
In those days the king hired a team of American engineers to locate precious water in the desert for his warriors’ horses and camels, but the company, Standard Oil of California (Chevron today), had something else in mind. Over several years they had drilled more than a half dozen holes in vain looking for something else. In one instance, they decided to drill deeper than they had ever done before. At the depth of 4,727 feet they hit pay dirt - in what would turn out to be the largest supply of crude oil in the world.
The king, however, was not amused. He kept his distance and stalled his visit. A year later, the king and his entourage arrived in 400 automobiles arrived at the pumping station of Ras Tanura to witness the first tanker hauling way its cargo of Saudi crude. (“Finding the King’s Fortune” Time 3/31/03)
Oil has transformed Saudi Arabia’s tribal economy to one of the world’s richest nations.
The riches of salvation are more than just a little box, a small chest or even a spacious room; it is the single most untapped reserve of riches. The Greek word for “treasure” is “thesauros” (v 44) and the English equivalent is “thesaurus,” the popular and indispensable synonym finder for English readers. Computer users today have the advantage of a thesaurus and its rich collection of words built into their word processor as a tool to provide an alternate choice of words, to improve their vocabulary and language skills and to help them in their verbal communication.
A lot of people confuse being wealthy with being rich. Money makes people wealthy, not rich. Being wealthy is financial or material, but being rich is relational, emotional and spiritual. A wealthy man buys and sells, but a rich man gives and takes. Being wealthy is having the things that money can buy, but being rich is having the things that money cannot buy. The wealthy think a person is broke without money, but the rich is merely poor without money, never broke. A wealthy man is defined by what he has, but a rich man is defined by who he is. Wealth is what you have in the bank but riches are what you have in the heart. The wealthy are prosperous, but the rich are content.