The Pearl of Great Price
By: Patty Joyce
Modern day tradition has assigned unique gemstones according to birth month, and these ‘birthstones’ are often worn as various types of jewelry. June’s birthstone is a pearl, which originates from oceans, lakes, and rivers around the world. It is a timeless wardrobe staple, beloved by women of all ages.
My birthstone is not a pearl, but it is my favorite gem. I was pleased to gift my niece, Gina, who has a June birthday, with a beautiful pearl ring that was my mother’s. Like my mother, a pearl, with its subtle luster, speaks of purity, humility, and innocence.
While the interior that houses the pearl is soft and very fragile, the exterior shell, in contrast, is rough and rocklike. Pearl-making is a natural defense against irritants or parasites entering the shell. A natural pearl grows in an oyster or mussel, is very difficult to find, and is of great expense. Pearls are commonly rounded, but also come in various shapes and sizes. Cultured pearls are farmed and require human intervention and care. There are some man-made pearls that may look genuine, but are mere imitations.
Spiritually speaking, when I think of pearls, I am reminded of the Parables of the Lord Jesus describing the Kingdom of Heaven. We read in Matthew 13 the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl, which emphasize the Kingdom's incomparable beauty and immeasurable worth. Verses 44-46 (NIV):
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
I wish I could say that when I came to faith some forty-plus years ago, I understood the term ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, or ‘Kingdom of God’. Maybe at that time it wasn’t explained to me, or I wasn’t well versed enough in the Scripture, or wasn’t exposed to deep teachings about this mystery that I was a part of but wasn’t even aware of what it meant. Praise God for introducing me to mentors and teachers who held me accountable and challenged me to understand more fully and experience the treasures that are available to those who have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord.
My understanding of the Kingdom of God began when I attended a conference where the subject was explored and referred to as a culture. It is a way of life; a way of thinking, speaking, and acting. We live the culture we believe in. The culture of the Kingdom of God is the realm where God reigns supreme, and Jesus Christ is King. In this Kingdom, God’s authority is recognized, and His will is obeyed. When we live within this culture, it begins to affect every aspect of our life until we are changed to the point where we are now someone new, and we can no longer be called what we originally were:
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB
This spiritual culture should identify itself in my everyday life, e.g., how I treat my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my neighbors, and even strangers who I might meet today or tomorrow. Do I spend daily private time with the Lord in prayer, confession, and worship? If not, why? Do I look for opportunities as led by Holy Spirit to further the Kingdom of God wherever I am? I should no longer identify with or be swayed by the ever-changing morals and popular choices and opinions of society that do not line up with God’s laws.
Who was I before this Man from Galilee entered my life? On the outside, I was a working woman with two children, very much in the world, and yet discreet and deceptive. My heart was like that rough and rocklike oyster with little that would penetrate its shell. And then, out of nowhere, He tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Do you want to come with me?’ There was no hesitation as I opened my shell to the soft and very fragile ground of my heart and said, “Yes, Lord, Yes!”
Even after falling, and I have during our relationship, God keeps His promise that He will never leave me or forsake me. His love and mercy pick me back up each time. His Word guards me against any imitations that would try to lead me astray. He is my fortress and my refuge, a present help in times of trouble.
Like the man who sold everything to purchase a pearl of great price, I continue to visit that field over and over again, and each time discover more riches in the indescribable, infinite, boundless Kingdom of God!
I pray you have purchased the Pearl of Great Price. If not, we are here to help you find it.