“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45,46).
ONE MEASURE OF HOW VALUABLE SOMETHING IS TO US IS WHAT WE WOULD GIVE UP IN ORDER TO HAVE IT. As for the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said it is “like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” If we wouldn’t do what this man did, we probably don’t know a precious “pearl” when we see one.
Most societies operate on the principle of exchange. No one can do everything that needs to be done or provide everything that needs to be provided for himself. So we “exchange” things. If you have something I need, then I exchange something I have for the thing you have. This happens every time we spend money, but it happens at other times too. In non-monetary transactions, some resource other than money is expended.
Now something like this principle operates in the spiritual realm also. Paul, for example, said the sacrifices he made for his brethren amounted to an expenditure of himself: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15).
Sometimes, however, we aren’t as willing to spend as Paul was. We hoard what we have and hold on to things we should let go of. But the truth is, everything we’ve been given right now is expendable — it’s all for the purpose of being spent. Getting to heaven with a large reserve is not what life on earth is about.
We are often encouraged to “count our blessings,” and that is certainly something we should do. But as we count our present blessings, let us also think about the future blessings that lie before us. We can’t have these greater things without trading in some lesser things for them, and we should be willing to do that. As we grow, we should have a clearer vision of what we would relinquish in order to gain what we don’t yet have, and especially what we would let go of to go to heaven. And frankly, if there is anything in this life — even the best of the best — that we wouldn’t exchange for heaven, then our values are not what they ought to be.
“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it” (Sidney Coe Howard).