Considering Costs and Values :: By Gene Lawley

You have heard the expression describing something as “priceless.” The meaning is that something is of more value than any price that can be put upon it, a concept that obviously is also described as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” An antique automobile that is certified as an original one in all aspects would be in that category to a collector of antique cars. But to someone not in that frame of mind, it would be a means of getting from “here to there,” and if it worked for that purpose, it has that value.

However, we want to consider cost versus value in regard to spiritual things. The Lord is speaking to this in His idioms on the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13:44-48:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“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.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.”

Obviously, in the mind of the seeker of treasure, what he found in one location in the field was enough to make him want the whole field in the possibility more treasure would be found there. He was looking with expectation and hopefulness. It has the leading appeal so expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” However, we forget that in the next verse we are told that, “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”

The merchant apparently knew the market and that this “pearl of great price” was the single most desirable of all pearls. It is like having a storage facility full of gold bars, but when the economy breaks down, how can one use the gold to buy a loaf of bread? Thus, the kingdom of heaven, as a pearl of great price, is so valued because of the benefits that are available with that possession—eternal life being the main one.

Psalm 103:2 speaks of the benefits of knowing the Lord: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” These are listed in the following verses, as “forgiveness of all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our lives from destruction, crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies, and satisfying our mouths with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

The picture of the dragnet describes how the Lord reaches out to all people, for He is a just God, and those who respond to His invitation are the good ones who are not cast back into the sea. The Scripture that clearly defines that action is Revelation 3:20, saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and live with him and he with Me.” God chooses those who want to join Him, for absolutely no one who does not want to be in heaven will be there!

The first cost of discipleship is coupled with the acceptance of Christ as Savior. It is the willingness of a person to repent of his sinfulness, his desire, first, to embrace all of the allure of the flesh, the world and the devil. The lordship of Christ in a believer’s life is called for when Jesus speaks like this in Matthew 10:34-36:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’”

Putting the Lord first is absolute, for life comes from Him—all else follows afterward. However, I once read of a young lady who committed to go to Africa as a missionary, but her mother, not equally as committed to the Lord, said, “No, no! Over my dead body, you’ll go!” In obedience to the Lord as responsive to her mother, she did not go. That is, until her mother died, then she stepped forward to fulfill her commitment—“over her mother’s dead body,” in reality.

The great question, in relation to cost versus value, is expressed in Mark 8:36-37, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul, or what will a man give in exchange for his soul.” Certainly, there is no profit in terms of eternal destiny, for all of the world is doomed to pass away. Even so, no one will be able to take the world’s things into the hereafter with him. Awaiting the unsaved is that awful and certain prospect of “outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth,” a picture of great desperation and hopelessness.

That sums up some of the cost of not following the Lord into salvation, as well as being a disciple.

Considering the cost of our salvation to Christ has some deep theological realities that do, in fact, define the value of choosing salvation over rejecting it. We may think that Jesus, knowing that He would be raised from the dead by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:11), would not be paying such a heavy price, even though He would carry in His body the sins of the whole world since time began. After all, we may think foolishly, He would not stay any longer than three days and three nights in the “belly of the earth,” where the wages of sin dictated He must go to pay the full price of our sins. It speaks of this in Hebrews 12:2:

“…Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Yet, what was behind that cry from the cross when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” The world does not realize what it will mean to be apart from the God of the universe, the God of creation, for even one second.

But Jesus, who knew what that meant, was in total anguish and despair at the thought of it, dying as a man, and as all men will one day die. That is, until those who are to be caught up to meet Him in the air will be so delivered from death. That which Jesus faced was more than enough to pay for the load of sin which He bore for mankind.

The basic core value Jesus put on no separation from God in His cry from the cross is what impacts my heart. His knowledge of what it will be like for those who do not know Jesus puts a very heavy cost on going into eternity for ever and ever with no hope for the suffering to cease! First, it will be that “outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and total aloneness, followed by that great white throne judgment and then, being put in that lake of fire to burn forever and ever.

Again, “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul!” (Mark 8:36).

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