The kingdom treasure

Matthew 13 is a significant chapter for my study of joy. In it, Jesus is delivering a series of parables, including that of the sower/seeds/soils, the wheat and the weeds, the mustard seed, the yeast, a couple about hidden treasure, and one about a large net. Through it all, He’s trying to explain what it’s like to be part of the kingdom of God. And in doing so, He uses the word “joy” twice. The first of these occasions is to explain that there will be some who receive the gospel with great joy but then don’t let it take root and so, eventually, inevitably, their faith withers and dies. And the second, which I want to focus on for a moment, is in verse 44.

Trying to explain how significant the kingdom of heaven is, Jesus tells us, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field” (HCSB).

So, simply finding the kingdom of heaven brings joy. It’s a pretty simple parable, right? Except for one thing. Notice what the man is willing to do – joyfully – to attain the kingdom: “he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field,” just so he can get the treasure.

In other words, at the end of the day, the only thing this man has remaining is this field and the treasure in it.

Think about that for a moment.

The man thought the treasure in the field, the kingdom of heaven, was so valuable, so incomparably important, that he gave up everything he had previously acquired to get it, and with joy! In other words, he emptied his savings account. He cashed in his entire retirement fund. He sold the car, emptied out the garage. He held a rummage sale and unloaded his entire wardrobe. His furniture. His kitchen appliances.

His house.

In the end, all he had left was the field and the treasure it contained. And as he stood there in the mud, I wonder if he didn’t get a chill as the rain came down and the snow piled up. And I wonder if he didn’t notice the heat and the sunburn as the summer sun rose high overhead.

Something tells me that he did.

Jesus’ point wasn’t that owning the field and the treasure was completely carefree and unconditionally awesome. And yet, the man had joy through it all.

Why? How?

The answer is that he realized that the treasure was worth everything that he had owned before and then some. The treasure was so valuable, so important, that all of the things he had sacrificed to attain it – savings, retirement, car, stuff, home – paled in comparison.

And because he knew and owned that truth, there was, in his mind, no reason to complain. No reason to grumble even a little. No reason to have anything but joy.

Because no matter what he had given up for the moment, the treasure was worth it and then some.

How often is this truth lost on me? How many times have I given something up, but only begrudgingly? How many times have I sacrificed and then grumbled and complained about how much it cost me to serve my Lord and attain that treasure?

I have work to do.

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