It is inescapable. Every facet of life appeals to what we want. We work for money. We eat to ensure we feel full. We play sports to satisfy our competitive impulses. Even Kanye West’s artistry probes the question of personal desires and treasures. What we treasure speaks volumes about us (Matthew 6:21). It reveals our underlying motivations, our deepest fears, grandest hopes, and the position of our heart.
We constantly unearth new treasures every day – careers, hobbies, encounters, relations, pleasures, and all that we behold in a given 24 hours. When find something particularly enjoyable, we soon long to, as Thoreau says, “suck the marrow” of enjoyment out of that which appeals to our fancies. We love to have, but we do not want to pay. Anyone can enjoy something pleasurable free of charge or at little cost to them, but the lengths they go to and the price they pay reveal the true worth of their treasure.
The course of our life hinges on the questions “What do you want?” and “What are you willing to pay for it?”. All things have a price. W.H. Auden explains this principle with the most eloquence and clarity. “But there is a price for everything. Failures are either those who do not know what they want or are not prepared to pay the price asked them. The price varies from individual to individual. Some get things at bargain-sale prices, others only at famine prices. But it is no use grumbling. Whatever price you are asked, you must pay.”
When we examine our potential reward in comparison with the necessary cost, we realize some things demand too high a figure to merit our pursuit. Others request a rather measerly fee that seems inconsequential and appealing. Eventually, our desires inevitably change and we discover that we no longer wish to pay at all.
All of these discussions beg one question: What is worth having at any cost?
In Matthew 13:44-46, Jesus tells us.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
When the man initially finds the treasure, he hides it. He ascribes so great a value to it that he hides it to prevent others from finding it. He promptly sells everything to have one thing. In fact, he gladly sells all that he has. He does it out of joy. Joy motivates him. The treasure gives him so much joy that the consequences of losing everything fail to cross his mind. He wants nothing more than the treasure. Nothing he has will keep him from it. He doesn’t care about the cost. He must have it. Charge him anything, and he will gladly meet the asking price.
The merchant seeks fine pearls. We all seek something. We seek love. We seek contentment. We seek affirmation. We seek rewards. We seek approval. He sought pearls. But he only found one. But that was enough. The value of one lone pearl superseded that of many pearls. Surely the merchant never planned to sell everything he owned just to have one mere pearl, let alone multiple pearls. But the lone pearl was of such value that it was not only worth more than multiple pearls, but everything he owned.
Sometimes we seek many things, even with a healthy pursuit, but we will find a greater fulfillment in the kingdom than what we would collectively find in the sum of those many good things. What is worth everything and what should we get at any cost? In sickness? In death? In troubles? In trials? In pain? In rain? In sun? In little and in plenty? The kingdom of heaven. We must have it. At any cost, pay the price, and pay with joy. What you will receive goes beyond measure.