Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Pearl

The Pearl of Great Value
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

There have been opportunities over the years to “dress for the occasion.”

Despite my preference for the Pacific Northwest’s casual wear, certain occasions call for dressing up. Some events say, “show me the value of this time.” A wedding is a prime example.

On my wedding day, great care went into dressing for the occasion. Every detail, from flowers and gown, to the jewelry worn, had been thoughtfully and painstakingly selected to be elegant and classic. Pearls were that final touch: A strand of pearls around my neck and single studs at my ears.

Pearls elevate any attire. Their simple elegance adds class and sophistication without being flashy or attention seeking. They are inherently feminine and soft. The beauty in a pearl is an asset to any occasion.

The Bible shares two parables about hidden treasure and a pearl. They are subtitled in the English Standard Version, “The Parable of the Hidden Treasure” and “The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value.” 

Jesus tells these stories explaining that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure (Matthew 13:44) and the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant who finds a pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45). It’s confusing that the Kingdom would be like both the treasure and the merchant valuing the treasure. How does that work?

In the parable of the hidden treasure, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44 ESV)

And in the parable of the Pearl he states, "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 ESV)

Both parables say that the value of the treasure found is so great that the one finding it would sacrifice everything. That’s some valuable pearl! Maybe that is the point and stopping there is sufficient, but my question of the two Kingdom likenesses remains. Could there be more treasure hidden in these verses? 

I’m repeatedly drawn to verse 45 … “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant”… a person. 

This parable tells of the value of a person above all else! All the years of Sunday school lessons would lead this pupil to raise her hand and exclaim, “Jesus! The answer to the question is Jesus!” Yes, he is an excellent answer! Jesus. He is both man and treasure! 

When we find Jesus, we want to change our lifestyle. We willingly give up our wants and desires. We sacrifice our life for Him. That looks very much like what Matthew 13:44 is saying.

Plugging the answer “Jesus” into Matthew 13:45, Jesus as the merchant, something different happens. It is Jesus who sacrifices everything to obtain the treasure! Then what … or dare I ask … who is the treasure? Who is the pearl?

My heart races and eyes grow wide. Me! You! Us! We are the pearl of great value to the merchant, Jesus, who sought and sacrificed! 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

Do we know our great value?

Pearls are unique in their value. They are a natural gem that cannot be improved upon by man’s efforts. They take years to form. Yet this oddly created treasure brings class and elegance to its owner.

Jesus says I’m a treasure of highest value. More often I don’t feel like it. But I know that the transformative power of Jesus Christ makes me valuable. Because of that, He is my treasure.

My mind returns to those pearls I donned on my wedding day. Perhaps it’s the characteristics of humility and honesty that are befitting a bride.

I wear those pearls often these days. It’s as if everyday says, “Today is Holy, dress accordingly.” Every day is an opportunity to don the love of Christ. 

When I wear the pearls, I’m reminded of Jesus’ life sacrifice for me. 

I want to be that pearl of great value.

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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