Give us, O God, light and the desire to find and buy the pearl of great price. Amen.
Matthew 13, 44-46. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had. and bought it.
The hidden treasure is the riches of God’s mercy; that is, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Christ is in the means of grace in the church, with the fruit of his death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins and eternal love; but hidden from our reason and the mind of the natural man. But when the Holy Spirit enlightens us, we find the treasure and keep it in our heart. Christ becomes more precious than all others to us; and the gospel with its blessed contents becomes so dear to us that our heart is willing to sell everything in order to possess it. Everything else which you value, as, for instance, your wife or husband, your home, your good health, your friends; everything which seemed good to you, and shed luster on your life, disappears like the stars before the light of the sun. You still have these earthly things; you keep your home; you live with your family and kindred; you enjoy your good health, if God preserves it; you ply your vocation, and love your country; but nothing of all these things is now your dearest treasure. There is One who dwells in your heart; and for his sake you are willing to leave everything else. In him wife and children and all earthly blessings come to have a new meaning; they are, I might say, of less and of greater value than before. You rejoice in all these things, and thank him for them; and you can part with them all, if it be his will, — lose them you can not, as long as you do not lose him. You can do without everything else; he remains as dear as ever to you. You may feel sorrow because of what you have lost; but in the midst of your sorrow you can be happy. Your Savior alone is indispensable to you; to lose him would be to lose your heart and life.
Some there are who seem to find this treasure without having sought it. It falls in their way, and they hide it; they receive the word into the heart as soon as they hear it, and go and practice the required self-denial. Others seek with patience after life and peace, — and find God. And a glorious find it is; a “pearl of great price,” a gem of the highest value, pure and beautiful and precious above all other precious stones combined! God moves with us in different ways; to some faith is given early, to others late. But all who find the Lord deny themselves for his sake. Note this lesson, dear reader; there is admonition in it: He will and shall have your undivided love. At the same time there is comfort in it also. To “sell all” means to practice self-denial. The Lord speaks of “selling,” because it is something which costs all Christians a struggle. Do not lose courage, even if you feel that it is a costly transaction. Pray for the light of the Spirit, that you may see the excellence of the treasure; and for grace to believe the presence of the Savior whom you do not see, and to taste, in so far as you can bear it, the “joy of his salvation.” Howbeit, we all understand, I hope, that the “buying” of which the Lord here speaks is the “buying without money and without price.”
“O thou eternal Light, who dost transcend all created light; fill my whole heart. Cleanse, gladden, enlighten, and quicken my spirit and all its powers, that I may cling to thee with grateful and joyous devotion. O, when shall come the happy time in which thou shalt satisfy me with thy presence, and become my all in all!”
O Zion, hail! bright city, now unfold
The gates of grace to me!
How many a time I longed for thee of old,
Ere yet I was set free
From yon dark life of sadness,
Yon world of shadowy naught,
And God had given the gladness,
The heritage I sought.