Last week we considered what it means to die daily to the sins that once held us captive. Today I invite you to consider with me what could make that sacrifice worth it – what motivating force could empower you to take up your cross and follow (Luke 9:23).
What can we learn from the metaphor Jesus gave us? “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, NIV). In his joy – in “grace recognized” – the man sold all he had. Not because of the rightness of it, not because it would benefit society, but because he would get the treasure! That treasure had convinced him on sight, that it was worth more than anything he already held in his hands. There’s a promise tucked into this picture: that choosing the kingdom of heaven is a choice for our personal gain. God has arranged that the very same things that bring Him glory also bring about our greatest good. There is also a lesson: that making that choice could take a bit of digging, and a moment of beholding. To receive that gain, we will need to go out of our way in seeking it, to step out of our old patterns of living, and get a look at Jesus.
In the moment of salvation, the Spirit opens our eyes to see the surpassing worth of Christ, so that we are able to turn away from the sin we once treasured. And I’ve found that for my part, the way to keep laying aside sin daily is to make sure my soul gets another glance at Jesus daily – or hourly, or every minute. As John Piper has said, “If you see the kingdom and the King as a treasure more valuable than [anything else], then it all becomes rubbish and you’re freed… Sin has the power of pleasure. And the Bible breaks that power with the power of a superior pleasure.” When we truly see this King for who He is, it is easy to choose Him. He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6, ESV). He is the author, sustainer, and head over all things (Colossians 1:15-20). He is the perfect Bridegroom, who gave Himself up for us, the bride (Psalm 45, Mark 2:18-20, Ephesians 5:25-28).
One look at Him and I can say again with all my heart: “Whatever was gain to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him,” (Philippians 3:7-9a, BSB).
For further study, please listen to this clip about how beholding the beauty of God changes us: