The hidden treasure — Matthew 13:44-46

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By Hall Green
Pondering Prayer

Hal Green

Many persons think that being a Christian is about what you have to give up, rather than what treasure you might receive. Yet the truth is that what may appear to be a sacrifice from the outside will be anything but a sacrifice from the inside for the person making it. The question is, does God seek sacrifice from us? Are we supposed to get rid of all of our possessions so that we may possess the kingdom of heaven — whatever and whenever that is? God says through the prophet Hosea that God desires “steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Jesus slightly amends this, telling his listeners, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13).  

For an important example, to those looking from the outside, what a couple does and willingly gives up after falling in love may appear foolish and immature. It is anything but that to the couple themselves. I remember two white-haired persons in their 70s, whose spouses had died a few years before. They met and fell in love on a cruise ship. In their unexpected romantic love, it was as if they returned to their young adult stage of wide-eyed optimism and sheer joy in each other. Being around them was a pure delight; they were truly in love. I know, because I got to conduct their premarriage counseling and perform their marriage ceremony. They ended up having nearly 20 years together and I conducted their funerals a mere two months apart.

My point is this: when you fall in love, you will do whatever is necessary to enter fully into and fulfill that love. At that point in your life, giving up singleness and independent living is not a sacrifice but a joy. The same dynamic holds true for Christians. As Paul said, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor 4:7). Who would guess from the outside the treasure that is ours on the inside?

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Jesus puts this together in two brief parables:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt 13:44-46).

What is operative here is the great joy of finding and being found by God, not the solemnity of sacrifice. Based on your desire to discover the kingdom of God, pray these verses through the four stages of reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation.

(Hal Green, Ph.D., is author of Pray This Way to Connect with God. You can contact him at drhalgreen@gmail.com.)


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