The Merchant of Pearls

Merchants are experts in understanding the value of commodities.

They are able to exchange one commodity for a more valuable commodity, and thus a good merchant becomes rich. To calculate the value of a commodity, the merchant uses his intellect. To choose what is best he uses wisdom. To avoid spending his capital on items of little value but great fancy he uses self-discipline. He must be able to avoid distraction and bend his efforts to pursue that which holds greatest value and reward.

Ancient wisdom records Jesus Christ telling two parables about being merchants of value[1]. In the first he said:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a 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.”

In the second he said:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

We are all merchants who daily spend our capital on commodities we deem appropriate. We spend our intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy on the pursuit of ‘pearls’. In other words we give ourselves for the ‘pearls’ we deem most valuable. What do you spend the most time thinking about? What weighs upon your heart? What absorbs your time? Why do you do what you do? How do you spend your money?

There are many questions we can ask to determine what our great pearls in life are. Jesus Christ invites us to pursue the great pearl – his kingdom. ‘His kingdom’ means pursuing a relationship with Him and enjoying his leadership in our lives. It means loving what he does, and doing what he does. It means counting all things as loss compared to the joy of knowing Him, as the parables say. It means freedom to focus on following Jesus, and finding that the cares of life come into their rightful place as we do.

As merchants, the trade of commodities is in our hands. We are always choosing, intentionally or passively, what to give our energy and time to. Does your trading leave you rich (e.g. peaceful) or poor (e.g. anxious)? Does your trading bring you satisfaction or leave you wanting for more? To begin trading up, it’s as easy as stopping now and saying: “God thank you for an invitation from Jesus to know you. Please teach me how to pursue a relationship with you, how to pursue you with my time and energy. Please show me what gets in the way so that I may make a wise trade for something of greater value.”

[1] Matthew 13:44-46