Last week I wrote an article where I argued (with the help of pastor John Piper) that receiving Christ involves receiving Him as supremely valuable and not simply on our own terms. In response to this article, a good friend of mine remarked that there are times when he struggles to make Christ (using my language) his “greatest treasure.” Giving the fact that this is a struggle for many of us, I thought it would be appropriate to write a follow-up article.
As I pondered this important question, two parables from the gospel of Matthew came to mind. Jesus said, “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. 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 13:44-46). These parables are short and sweet. The basic meaning is that while the kingdom of heaven is hidden to most, the few who find it are willing to go to great lengths to posses this hidden treasure.
Keep in mind that this is a parable, which means we have to be careful how we interpret these verses. Jesus is not saying that we must use our own resources to find salvation. Rather, Jesus is saying that those who freely receive the gift of God in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-9) are willing to part ways with all their worldly treasure. Having found something far superior (Christ) to what once held value in their lives, they gladly let go of those treasures because of the supreme value of knowing Christ. The apostle Paul writes, “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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).
It is safe to say that the world has a way of distracting us from Christ. In the same way that Santa Claus has a way of taking our focus off the true meaning of Christmas, so too does the world’s values distract us from following Christ. When we invest ourselves in what is earthly it shows that our priorities are not invested in the One who has infinite value, the Son of God. Therefore, we must constantly battle against our fleshly nature, and pray that our affections remain in Christ. As Paul tells, “If you then have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
While this is certainly not easy, it is necessary and required by God. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). If your heart is taken with the things of the world, then they will be your reward. But if your heart has been captivated by Christ and He is your hidden treasure, God will reward you with eternal life in the presence of Christ. The choice is yours, friend.
May God richly bless you.