In Search of the Greatest Treasure
This article was originally published in the July 1996 edition of our magazine.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “treasure”? Perhaps you think of a treasure hunt you went on when you were a child. Maybe you recall tales about pirates who supposedly buried chests full of treasure somewhere on an island. Most of us have probably never found a buried treasure chest, but perhaps you have imagined what it would be like and have speculated a little about what you would do with a treasure if you did find one.
When I was a boy being raised in Missouri, some of us neighborhood kids decided to dig a cave in a field across from where I lived in St. Louis County. It was a large field that ran for many blocks, and on this particular day, we got some shovels and headed for a little stream that ran through the field. It came from an underground spring. There was a cluster of trees around the spring, and we picked a spot close to those trees, where we could get away from the roots, and started to dig our cave. A cave on flat ground is really just a hole, and as we were digging that hole, I remember that all of a sudden a shout went up. Someone had found some money! I do not know the history of the coins we pulled out of the dirt. Perhaps, many years before, someone had camped by that little spring, because when we looked at the coins, one of the fellows said, “Why, some of these coins are almost a hundred years old!” He was right, and I can tell you, there were some excited boys in the field that day. That experience was the closest I ever came to digging up a treasure.
The Bible records a parable about a treasure in a field. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46). The Lord often used parables to get points across to the people who were listening to Him, and the stories usually had a straightforward, simple message. These two parables certainly have a clear point to them.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is of incomparable value, but I do not think it is all that hard to find. The question is, do we have an eye to see it? Do we recognize it when we come across it? Do we have a heart that desires it?
First, the kingdom of Heaven is likened to a treasure. When the man found this treasure, he made sure that it was carefully hidden away, and then he sold all that he had in order to purchase that piece of ground. He valued that treasure more than anything he had in his possession. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is of incomparable value, but I do not think it is all that hard to find. The question is, do we have an eye to see it? Do we recognize it when we come across it? Do we have a heart that desires it? If you are searching for something that will satisfy your heart, I believe the Lord will help you come across what you are searching for. If you will be honest with yourself, God will help you to find the Gospel, the Kingdom of Heaven.
There came a day in my life, a number of years after that childhood experience in St. Louis County, when I found another kind of treasure—the treasure of the Gospel. When I was in the Navy, I met some men on board ship who had become Christians. Thank the Lord for those who tell the Gospel story! As I looked at those young men in that Bible class, they had smiles on their faces. They had something good to say. They had real joy, and I was impressed with that. I realized that I had come across a treasure, and I was happy, just as the man in the parable was happy when he found the treasure in the field. He saw the value of what he had found, and I saw the value of the Gospel. I am glad I “sold out” and obtained the treasure that was offered to me. I still value the Gospel today. It is worth more than anything else in my life.
The man who found the treasure in the field was careful with it once he had found it, hiding it so he could be sure it was safe while he went and purchased the field. That was true in my case also. Once I had acquired the Gospel, I wanted with all my heart to hang on to it. The fellows I used to drink and fight with before I got saved, laughed and made fun of me when I became a Christian. They told me, “You’ve got dive-bomber religion. Just wait until we get back to port again. You’ll be the same old fellow you used to be.” They were wrong, because I wanted to hang on to that treasure in my heart. I have never wanted to be the “same old fellow” I used to be. After my conversion, there were times when I was awakened out of my sleep at my battle station and heard the guns going off, knowing there were dive bombers attacking that old ship, but I felt the peace of God flooding my soul. There was joy in my heart. I want to tell you, there is something to rejoice about in the old-time religion. There is something worth hanging on to.
At our place in Grants Pass, Oregon, we have eighteen or nineteen good-sized walnut trees around our yard. We also have lots of squirrels, and as a result, we do not get any nuts. I told my wife, “Let’s just forget about the nuts and enjoy the squirrels.” That is what we have done. The squirrels go around and eat the nuts, and what they don’t eat, they bury. They don’t bury them very deep, because they don’t want to have to go to much effort to get them out of the ground, I guess.
The Gospel is not far from any of us. We just have to put forth a little effort, and we can have it.
The Gospel is not buried so deeply that you cannot find it, but you do need to “dig around” a bit. I remember going through my first trial after receiving salvation. Until then, it seemed that the Lord blessed me from day to day. I expected it to be like that all the time, but all of a sudden, it wasn’t that way anymore. I felt like a weight was on my shoulders, and I did not understand what was happening. I looked up one of those young men from the Bible class on board ship and said, “Pray for me!” He said, “Go and pray for yourself. You are young and healthy!” I didn’t crawl into a corner and say, “Well, Lord, I guess You don’t love me and he doesn’t either.” I just did what he said! I got down and did a little praying, and the Lord lifted me right back up. You see, the Gospel is not far from any of us. We just have to put forth a little effort, and we can have it.
In the second parable, the kingdom of Heaven was likened to a merchant man seeking goodly pearls. You know, some pearls are unevenly shaped. Some are of poor quality. Some are small or badly colored. This merchant man was not looking for that kind of pearl. He wanted the very best! He was engaged in searching for it, and at last he came across the pearl he wanted. In fact, he wanted it so badly that he was willing to go and sell all that he had in order to possess that pearl. He was willing to pay the full price to get the goods.
When it comes to the Gospel, I want the “goods.” I want it to be just as the Lord spelled out in His Word. I will not settle for anything less. Down through the years, I have heard preaching that laid the Gospel right on the line, and I could say in my heart, “Amen, Brother.” I want the best, and I will pay the price to get it.
Do you want something that is a challenge? Do you want something that will measure up? Do you want something that will require consecration and dedication but is worth any price you pay to get it? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is worth everything! When it is in your possession, you will rejoice every day of your life, and the value of it is never ending. If you do not have this great treasure, sell out and obtain it today!