In his joy he goes and sells all that he has…Finding one pearl of great value, [he] went and sold all that he had (Matt. 13:44, 46).
When you see the value of all that Christ is, of all that He has done, and of all that He offers, and when you see that He is the only treasure that you can have always, you will say, “What do I need to do to get this treasure? How can I get this pearl?” When you see the glory of Jesus, you know you have to make it yours and you’ll be ready to do whatever it takes. The words of Paul from Philippians 3 give us a real-life example this energized response.
Listen to Paul laying out the assets that went into his fire sale: “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:4-7).
Counting Your Losses
An identity that can no longer define you
Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews… (Phil. 3:5)
Saul of Tarsus was very proud of his race, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” But, when he found Christ, race could no longer define him. When you are a new creation in Christ, you don’t define yourself by your race, by your work, or by anything else that you find in yourself. You are a man or a woman in Christ. You may be a father or a mother, but only for a while. You may be a banker, an athlete, a teacher, or a missionary, but only for a while. These are only temporary assignments. But if you are in Christ, you are a new creation. That is the identity that defines you.
A community that no longer welcomes you
As to the law, a Pharisee. (Phil. 3:5)
Paul loved being a Pharisee. It was an elite club, an intellectual atmosphere. Being on the inside of the cultural influencers was a big “pearl” in Paul’s life. But from the moment he believed in Jesus Christ, he knew he would never be welcome in the circle again. You may have the same experience. Committing yourself to Jesus Christ may well mean that there are social circles in which you are no longer welcome, and communities in which you are no longer at home.
A passion you no longer pursue (because it is outside the will of God)
As to zeal, a persecutor of the church (Phil. 3:6).
The word “zeal” means passion. Paul had a passion for persecuting the church. That’s what got him up in the morning and gave him energy. It was the driving cause that motivated his life. Here was a man with a passion outside the will of God, and in order to have Christ that passion had to go.
What passion in your life is outside of the will of God? You have found pleasure in this passion, and it has become a motivating drive in your life. But now that you see the supreme value of Jesus Christ, you know that if you are going to have Him, it has to go.
Treasuring Your Gains
We know that salvation is a gift that we do not earn. It is a gift that must be received. And it can only be received with empty hands, not hands filled with other pearls. When you receive the gift of salvation, you know you are rich. When Christ is yours, you are blessed with every spiritual blessing in him. Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself, for “all things are yours… life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:21-23). Not only are you rich, but you are no longer searching. When the trader buys this pearl, he is done trading. He has sold his collection, and so the only way he could do any more trading would be to give up the pearl of great value.
Jesus Christ is the pearl of great price. When you have Him, you will no longer be on a long search. You will find yourself saying, with Paul, that you want to know more of Him and of the power of his resurrection, even if that means sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings. That’s how a Christian speaks.
The good news for you is that the owner of the pearl is ready to sell. If you will have Christ, Christ will be yours. You must go to God to seal the deal. The treasure is His because Christ is His Son. Go to the Father and tell Him that you see supreme value in His Son. Tell him you have been living for the wrong things and that nothing in your life can compare in value with who Christ is, and what He has done, and what He offers to you. Tell Him that you are ready to count your losses and to treasure Jesus Christ–the greatest gain!
This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Joy”, from his series, Ministry Matters: Sustaining a Lifetime of Service.