” The Kingdom of Heaven is like is like a treasure hidden in the field, which man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
We find joy in release. An open hand offers a sense of rest to our souls as we no longer hold the burden of control. Submission and sacrifice cultivate the greatest joy; the joy of the kingdom. We’ve all been in a season where joy was a mirage. Where we can’t grasp it; it isn’t real to us. Spurgeon told a story of an evangelical preacher who was asked to bring a message on joy to the congregation. As the visitor approached the pulpit he fell to his knees, hands grappling his head and cried “restore to me the joy of your salvation.” He didn’t have it to give, joy evaded him. Spurgeon went on to say “fictitious experience is dangerous to the forger of it.” Is our joy genuine or is it an act? Do we push down disappointment with a pious smile and close the mouth of despair with empty words? In these trials we face, disappointment and dissatisfaction, do we truly have joy? Are we content with Christ? Or has the circumstances we face stifled joy with unfulfillment?
The loss of that joy comes from a lack of surrender.
Open hands and full heart; that’s the breakdown of surrender. When we lay down what we have at the throne of grace, we may be surprised to find we leave with more than we left.
We may can forge joy, by convincing everyone around us we are full. After all we know all the right words to say, we can quote a pocket full of scriptures and we are ready to sling those out to protect our cover at any given moment. We may can play the part of joy, but we will never be able to forge surrender. That’s why Spurgeon said the forger of joy is in a dangerous plight. Because if we are playing the part of joy then when the time comes when surrender asks for a sacrifice – our cover will be blown and everything we have staked on false joy will come crashing down around us. The illusion will lead us to despair. For our joy is only as strong as our faith, and the strength of our faith is displayed by surrender.
We do the world no favors by pretending. And by doing so, we destroy ourselves. Let’s be authentic enough to cry out for restoration when we need it and brave enough to surrender the sacrifice.
You see we’re scared. We hide behind the mask of fictitious joy, but under it, is a face of terror. We’re afraid of what may be asked of us and even more what may be taken from us. Sacrifice has gotten an unworthy stigma attached to it. In the Old Testament, a sacrifice was the avenue to God, it paved the path for sinner to come before the Almighty. It gave the people of God access to Him. You see sacrifice has always given more than it has taken. But now, we cringe when we hear the word. We steer clear of “surrender” and “sacrifice” because in our minds it takes instead of gives. No wonder we’re scared to surrender, no wonder we hold onto our sacrifices with white knuckles….we’ve got it all wrong. Surrender prepares the heart for the gift of the kingdom, while sacrifice initiates it. So, when we give our all for the kingdom, when we sell out for its sake, we are given 100 fold of what we have laid down. Why can’t we see this? Why do we underestimate the treasure of the kingdom?
It’s a great tragedy, that we cling to trinkets and turn our backs on the treasure. All because we are too afraid of sacrifice.
Joy, real joy, is found when we exchange our petty trinkets for this glorious treasure. Not necessarily in the exchange itself but in the realization that there is more. More to life than what we have. This buried treasure offers us what we all want….more. America is in a panicked frenzy, each individual making up a nation that is controlled by the desire for more. Yet, the irony is, when more is offered we freeze. The craving for more, doesn’t inform us that the demand of more often requires sacrifice. Many of us will face a moment in our lives when we stand at the edge of “more”, legs trembling, because no one told us that “more” does just that, it asked more of us. But here in this parable, the man “joyfully” sold out, He sold out because he knew that what he received far outweighed what he was giving up. He knew because he saw it, he got just a glimpse of it and it was worth it. Jesus is always worth it. That’s why we can joyfully sell out for the kingdom; because nothing we give up will ever outweigh what we are receiving. The kingdom is not a treasure, it is THE treasure our souls are panting for. It’s the treasure we are all hunting for. It’s more than we can even imagine.
“Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search for fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went out and sold all he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
What are you holding on to? Whatever it is, it is standing in your way from receiving “more”. It’s not wrong to want more. I think sometimes, as Christians, we feel guilty about this longing that will not hush. We try to silent the roar with busyness, we account for every second of our days, our schedules are full. But we still feel empty. We struggle between the pull of gratefulness and desperation. We are thankful for what we have but we are desperate for something more. Something more………..it aches within.
Could it be the Kingdom of heaven is the “more” are souls crave?
In Luke 17:21, Christ says “For behold the Kingdom of Heaven is in the midst of you.” Scholars mostly agree that this term in the Greek for “in the midst of you” means in your soul. The Kingdom isn’t an abstract city to visit, but a reality within, where the will of God overtakes the will of man. Where the Spirit reigns and Christ is honored. Could it be that the “more” we long for is the fullness of the Kingdom to come in our souls? The chambers of our inner beings have an empty spot, a cavern, that nothing in this realm can fill. Nothing else will fit; only the kingdom. For that is what we were made for.
People sell out for things all the time. Daily in fact. We sell out for an education, going thousands of dollars into debt. Spending time and every resource we have. A lot of times, moving from our families and friends. We sell out. Everything that had value to us must bow to our education. Our entire lives revolve around it. The same is true with careers, spouses, our dreams…etc. Not that any of this is wrong, it’s just an example of how we sell out for the things that matter to us. Most of us have been here, sacrificing everything for the treasure that is offered to us. Yet, we leave the Kingdom buried. Content with the glimpse, we tread on. Accumulating more, all the while, loosing the most.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God…” When did we become trinket hunters instead of treasure seekers? I’m not sure. But I’m willing to bet that whenever it was we traded glory for ashes, was the time our joy escaped us. You see maybe it’s not that we are scared of sacrifice, we do it all the time. Maybe the reason we refuse to sacrifice is because the Kingdom doesn’t seem to be worth it. What is the Kingdom worth to you? The alter of your life will testify.
Let’s not make the fatal mistake of confusing complacency as contentment. One leaves us starving, while the other, satisfied. Which one are you? Is there a hunger and thirst for the things of God deep within you? Then you will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).Sacrifice is always satisfying because it uncovers the treasure in the field; the kingdom of God.