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. Matthew 13:44
A few years back my parents retired and moved out of my childhood home. During the downsizing process, I got a call from my mom saying that she had a big problem on her hands: my sports card collection, which occupied my entire bedroom closet. From baseball to football and hockey to basketball, I collected everything.
Unfortunately, since I'm typing these words, my nest egg of an investment didn't pan out. A decent portion of the items in the boxes were common cards of no-name athletes worth mere pennies. The more sentimental and valuable cards stayed protected in binders. But, the creme de la creme, remained hidden in a special compartment only I knew about. I beamed from ear to ear as I opened up the secret case and gazed at my Cal Ripken rookie card. When my best friend asked if I would trade every other Baltimore Orioles card I owned for my childhood heroes card, I accepted and didn't think twice. I would make that same deal all over again.
Today's verse is a parable Jesus told regarding a different type of trade-off. A man sells everything he has to buy a field where his hidden treasure remains. In light of what the man believes he would gain, the enormous cost is insignificant. He signs the contract and shakes the person's hand with joy, practically giddy over what was now his possession.
Jesus describes God's Kingdom in this way. How can this be? We know that it’s impossible to earn salvation or God's favor. Grace ceases to be grace when we can achieve it on our own. Christ gave His life away voluntarily and offered us security, contentment, and unconditional love freely. All we have to do is receive it.
The Apostle Paul recognized the art of the deal. In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul put it this way:
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:7-8.
What Jesus wanted us to understand is the significance of what we have received. Forgiveness is free, but it costs us everything. We exchange our purpose, agenda, hopes, and desires for His own. When we stack up all the world could offer us to the gift we have in Christ, we recognize we're on the winning side of the trade. Giving everything up to follow Christ is a happy trade-off. By losing everything, we gain all that we truly need.
What have you gained through your encounter with Christ? What makes His forgiveness so valuable to you?
God, You are beyond gracious to me. I get to experience freedom by embracing Your free gift of forgiveness. May Your joy fuel everything about me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.