Pearl of Great Price
[ Preached by Pastor Kenneth Chin on the celebration of Acts Church Malaysia’s 19th Anniversary ]
How can we be confident that God will complete the good work He has begun in us?
Read | Philippians 1:3-7
Verse 6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Paul was confident that God would complete the good work He began in the church of Philippi because the church were partakers of the grace. Philippians 1:29-30 gives us a deeper understanding of what Paul was saying – the Philippians went through the same sufferings that Paul did. They were partakers of grace even when things weren’t so well.
Parents, when do you think your children are ready to go out to the world? You would be scared if your children have not gone through hardships. But you would be more confident if they had faced hardships before and came back safe.
Paul shared that God is not into overprotection. Instead, He is into us learning to get back up again after falling down. God doesn’t need to protect us from the realities of the world because we are well prepared for life.
A little salt won’t kill you.
The world doesn’t like bad times. But if you keep running away from bad times, then it’s hard to be sure God can complete the good work in you. Would you learn to stand still and tell God, “I’ll take both the good and bad, easy and hard, because I know You’re working the good work in me.”
The Philippians did, they know that their calling is not just for blessing, but also suffering.
Read | 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
We are like fragile clay jars, yet we have this treasure within us, so that it is clear that the great power in us is from God and not from ourselves. It then goes on to share how believers were hard-pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed.
Read | 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
God wants to give us the “weight of glory”, but it doesn’t come without sacrifice, sufferings and bad times. Our inward man cannot be renewed without affliction, but this affliction is light compared to the weight of glory that we will receive. So put your trust in God. If you’re wondering why God hasn’t completed the good work in us, it’s because we keep running away from hardship.
Read | Matthew 13:45-46
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
The pearl of great price, how does it form? Here are some revealing comparisons between the different types of pearls:
Natural pearl vs cultured pearls
Natural pearls are formed in natural environments while cultured pearls are man-made pearls formed in nice environments. Most of us want “nice environments”, for example, nicer churches and nicer companies. But although a cultured pearl looks like a pearl, it doesn’t have any real value.
As believers, we don’t want to only have the appearance of godliness but no real power. Natural pearls, on the other hand, are the costliest. We are meant to be originals, not imitations.
Saltwater pearls vs freshwater pearls
We all want to be in freshwater – in a fresh, comfortable place. No one wants to be in saltwater. But salt has healing properties such as its ability to heal eczema. Salt is painful but heals. The best pearls are made in saltwater – they are rounder in shape and better in quality.
God wants to produce better quality pearls in our life. A little salt won’t kill you – in fact, it’s the very thing God uses to make pearls more valuable. Freshwater pearls, on the other hand, are very smooth but we can’t be sure if there’s anything inside, just like some Christians appear very smooth but may not have substance inside.
It takes time to make a valuable pearl – around 5 to 25 years, whereas imitation pearls can be made in a day. 5 to 25 pearls is almost a lifetime – meaning we have a lifetime to become pearls. If we missed the first 25 years because we were running away from testings, the next 25 years we can choose to not run away and take the chance to become a pearl. We have 4 chances since only one pearl is produced every 25 years!
The next thing about pearls, they release nacre – an internal resource from within the oyster itself. It forms coating after coating. The more coating there is, the more valuable the pearl would be. There’s “nacre” in all of us, but what does it take for it to be released? An irritant – an external resource.
Some of us never knew we have nacre, treasure or the weight of glory in our inner man, but the nacre only gets released when the irritant comes in as a defence mechanism. The nacre covers the irritant to prevent the irritant from hurting the shell anymore.
We are meant to be originals, not imitations.
How amazing if every Christian was like that: when hurt comes, instead of fighting and rejecting it, we release the nacre of God’s love and keep covering and coating it – until what’s ugly becomes beautiful – we would then have turned the test into a testimony.
An irritant would either bring out the promise or the problem in us. It will either show us who we really are or who we are really meant to be. For example, if we have a bad temper, an irritant would bring it out. However, an irritant is not just there to reveal the problem but to release the nacre or promise.
Lastly, while every clam (or Christian) has the potential to produce a pearl, not every clam will produce one. Only one in about 10,000 wild/natural oysters will produce pearls, and of those, only a small percentage achieve the size, shape and colour desirable to the jewellery industry.
But the supernatural can be different from the natural, God wants every Christian to produce a pearl and we can trust that He is willing to finish the good work in each of us.
Written by Writer’s Ink
Edited by Hailey Chung