Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl:
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! “
Parable of the Fishing Net:
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”
Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth:
When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.”
Matthew 13:44-58 NLT
My Thoughts: Isn’t it magnificent to think that heaven is worth so much we will willingly sell everything we own to gain it? Yet, I know so many people who will not part with their past, let alone their belongings, to gain such a treasure!
I’ve seen several people pass away and they all had one thing in common: not one single earthly treasure left with them. The body may have been wrapped in the richest garments and jewels, a resting place might have been in the finest, ornate tomb, but it only houses an empty shell (our body) because the soul takes nothing when it leaves.
“For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.” Psalms 49:17 NLT
“After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” 1 Timothy 6:7 NLT
Jesus warned: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21 NLT
This last verse is more personal than I normally like to discuss. You see, I come from a family of hoarders. If asked they would deny they are hoarders because they consider themselves to be ‘bargain treasure seekers.’ Unfortunately many of their bargains hang in their closets with the tags still attached, or stay hidden in drawers never to be used until they rot or turn yellow from age. Worse, often those purchases stay in their original sacks on the floor alongside many more sacks.
When I realized the Lord wanted me to share a story about my Mother it made me incredibly sad. It’s honestly not how I remember her and I hope I can honor her in such a way it’s not the only thing you remember either.
My Mother (God rest her soul), became a terrible hoarder in the last ten years of her life. She and her husband (my step-father) had rooms that were inaccessible, hallways lined with filled boxes and bins, as well as cabinets and drawers that were overflowing. Their kitchen cabinets and the floor around their dining table were filled with every appliance a cook would ever want to try, and there was more food than either of them could ever eat. In fact, many of their food items were expired.
As a reminder, my Mother wasn’t always a hoarder…., but during what I would consider some of the best years of her life, her health took a terrible decline and she became mostly housebound. The claustrophobia and depression that followed increased her ‘desire to acquire’ and decreased her sense of logic. Yes, she was seeing a doctor but that is another nightmare story we won’t address in this blog.
After she passed away, we (her five children) and her late husband had to address the mess of the earthly treasures she left behind. They robbed us all from having a normal grieving process.
Sadly, every single thing she treasured either sold in garage sales for a fraction of the original cost, or were donated to charity. Our only consolation was that we knew Mother was in heaven where she no longer had to suffer from the physical pain and mental illness that brought on these unhealthy habits.
My Mother was the bravest woman I ever knew. She came from an abusive alcoholic family, and unfortunately she married an abusive, alcoholic who was also mentally ill (my father) and had five children. When my baby sister was less than a year old we escaped from him and Mother single handedly raised all five of us. She worked three jobs to make ends meet, and can I tell you the ends never met. When my older sister was 14 and I was 13, we lied about our age and went to work to help pay the bills. Two years later, my brother (at 13) did the same and he also helped with the rising cost of feeding and caring for a family of six. Life was hard, but the memories we all have are the sacrifices she made so we could have a better life, not those last crazy years where she fell into the trap of acquiring earthly treasures.
I suspect many more than just my family suffers from ‘storing up treasures’ in this world. Who among us have garages filled to the max with no room for their cars? Closets filled with clothing and shoes we never wear? Perhaps we have food in our pantries or food that will expire before it can be eaten? I bet there are many reading this blog who have also sought the wrong treasures.
It is time for us to let go of the things that clutter our home, our heart, and our mind, and consider the choice pearls we should be seeking:
- Extending compassion for others
- Spending time instead of money
Jesus says “wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” What do the treasures in your life say about the status of your heart?
This brings us right into the next parable of the fishing net. Jesus tells us we also need to take inventory and sort through our own fishing nets (the relationships we treasure in our lives). Are we keeping company with the good ‘fish’ and throwing out the bad? Are these relationships helping us to grow and become better people or leading us into a path of destruction?
Jesus says clearly: the angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace.
Every relationship we have should bring opportunities to grow in righteousness, and likewise, as followers of Christ, we are to be a man or woman who also teach and train in righteousness.
Our last parable seems unrelated, but it is one final warning from Jesus: as followers of Christ we will face rejection. More often than not, the harshest rejection can be from our own family or hometown, the very people who know us and love us.
If you read my testimony, I didn’t become a believer until I was in my 40’s and my children were grown and gone from home. How shocked do you think they and other family members were (and still are!) when I went from being a strong willed, fearful, bitter woman, to a woman who struggles to look and act more like Christ daily because He has called me to be different? It can sometimes be a lonely existence because many no longer feel comfortable around me.
I am not ashamed of my calling, I am not ashamed of the gospel, and I am not ashamed that I am a follower of Jesus. I wish I were a perfect example of what it looks like to be all of those things, but people, I’m still trying to get it right every day and it’s not always easy or painless. But, I will always choose Jesus first, and if I mess up, I get up, I ask for His forgiveness, and I try again. Amen.
Father God, thank you for the reminder that we are to be very selective about the treasures we gather in our lives and hearts. I thank You for treasuring me and for providing me and my siblings with an absolutely amazing Mother. She showed us over and over how much she loved and treasured us next to You. I look forward to seeing her again one day in Heaven with You. Father, help us to know what relationships You want us to keep in our lives so we can remain focused on growing in our relationship and witness of and for You. Guide us and comfort us when we encounter opposition and rejection, especially from those we love the most. We love you, Father and pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.