The Parable of the Costly Pearl

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he gave them some insight into his background in Judaism and all that he had going for him before he became a Christian.  He described himself as “a Hebrew of Hebrews,” “a Pharisee,” “a persecutor of the church,” and “blameless” as far as being righteous under the standards of the Law of Moses (Phil. 3:5-6).

However, he was willing to give all of that up once he found the eternal salvation that is only in Christ.  “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8).

Paul was like the merchant in this parable, the only difference between them being that Paul was not consciously searching for the Lord’s kingdom like the merchant was looking for the costly pearl; if anything, Paul was actively trying to destroy the Lord’s kingdom.  The similarity between them lies in the fact that both of them found something of great value, the pearl for the merchant and Christ for Paul.  Once they both found it, they were willing to do whatever it took to own it.  The merchant sold everything he owned in order to afford the cost of the pearl.  Paul gave up his meteoric rise in Judaism and became to his former friends and colleagues an outcast and heretic in order to know Christ, so “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:11), i.e., receive eternal life.

What about those whom we know who are outside of Christ, Christians?  Jesus said that “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” are “blessed” (Matt. 5:6).  Do we know anyone who is not a New Testament Christian who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness, desperately craving to be found right with God?  We probably do.

God will give this kind of person what they so desperately need and crave.  We know this because Jesus promised that they would be “satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).  He will give them opportunities to find that which they seek.  And He wants you to be the door that He puts in front of them, the door through which they must walk to find the salvation they seek.

I’m reminded of the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-38), an obviously religious man who was studying the Scriptures and pondering what they meant.  God providentially sent him someone to bring him to the truth and salvation.  The same is true of Cornelius (Acts 10), a very pious individual who prayed to God and was very benevolent…but still lost because he had not yet come into contact with the blood of Christ.  Yet he wanted to please and serve God, so God opened up the door for him to meet someone who would teach him how to receive eternal life.

God wants you to be the person he uses to bring the souls in your life whom you know who are lost to Jesus.  They are searching for that costly pearl.  Will you help them find it?

Are you, Christian, searching for that costly pearl?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to possess it and never lose it?  How high on your list of priorities is your Christianity and all that Scripture says is required of you as a follower of God?

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