This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the Four Gospels* is about Jesus talking about maturing believers and pursuing the Kingdom comparing the journey to the pursuing of wealth, from Matthew 13:44-46.
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.
Are we like merchants going about our business in the marketplace? Business owners can identify with the 44th verse here. We sometimes dream about landing the next ‘big deal,’ and we hope that big sale will lead us to fame and fortune. Farmers and anyone who digs in the earth can relate too. One summer job I had when I was in college was installing cables for cable TV in people’s backyards. We had a small backhoe that we could maneuver around people’s property, and on the back of it was a cable plow. The cable plow was hollow and narrow. We would insert the cable into the hollow section, and the plow unit would shake the ground as it cut the turf. The back hoe would move slowly as it fed the cable into the ground, with minimal damage to people’s yards. Since I was just general labor for the summer, I didn’t get to use this cool piece of machinery. Instead I was stuck 8 hours a day with a basic shovel, since the backhoe didn’t fit into many people’s backyards. I still have calluses from digging up people’s backyards, around fences and trees. It wasn’t fun, since most of the soil was full of rocks, roots and construction debris. Many times during those hot and humid hot summer days, I dreamt about digging up a diamond or valuable piece of archeology. I was never very lucky, and I didn’t even find an Indian arrow head. Diggers and treasure hunters often dream about Staffordshire Hoard of 3,500 items found in 2009, the largest Anglo Saxon hoard of gold, jewelry and other items, dating to the 7th century.
My wife has relatives that live in Tahiti; they have friends that dive for oysters and often find valuable and beautiful black pearls.
Had I found something very valuable buried beneath people’s yards, I would have been tempted to rebury it and do anything I could to buy the home, such as selling everything I owned. If I ever travel to Tahiti, I would love to find a valuable pearl.
We aren’t treasure hunters or pearl divers. I don’t dream anymore about finding riches and cures to financial comfort. We aren’t searchers, but Kingdom builders, and of a lowly type of builders at that–oysters. We are bottom dwelling humble oysters, building up pearls in our hearts. I fondly recall Barbara Streisand’s singing of “Sweet Zoo,” concluding after she woke from dreaming she was various interesting animals, that she would “enjoy being an oyster,” I guess she was right. These pearls of great price can’t be purchased, but they are crafted over a long time from small grits of sand, smoothed over as Christ readies our hearts for eternity.
The oyster’s seed irritants, specks of abrasive sand, that become pearls, might be parts of us, dark parts, that Christ wants to redeem. That is the mystery of his work in us, he takes the things about us that might not be so good–our self-centeredness, or greed, and unfulfilling desires–and turns them into desires for him and work for his kingdom that he has promised will one day be reality. He makes beauty from ashes, pearls from dust, and we get to enjoy him and his forgiveness for eternity–the deal of a lifetime.
*A chronological examination of any verse that involves money and stewardship, attempting to see the new light that Jesus shines on money in his selfless, grace filled, Holy Spirit empowered, and Kingdom oriented positions. This is the fifteenth post in this series.