I’ve been playing a space-based video game, and when docking at a station, I often need to stock up on supplies. Missiles and ammunition are needed to take on pirates, along with drones to more easily pick up salvaged materials or minerals. The problem with the drones is that they take up cargo space, so when the cargo hold is full on the ship I’m flying, I sometimes need to jettison some of the drones in order to be able to store more valuable materials. When a piece of flotsam is worth a hundred times as much (or more) as a drone, the math on whether or not the make the trade is pretty simple.
Have a look the following verse from a parable of Jesus (or, if you’re not familiar with this parable, read all of Luke 15:8-10):
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?
Luke 15:8 NLT
It occurs to me that lighting a lamp – especially in those days – was not free. Oil had to be purchased (see Matthew 25:1-13), and while it may have been readily available, it still came at a cost. However, a footnote suggests that one of these “silver coins” is actually a day’s wages. Surely this lost coin, once found, was worth far more than a bit of oil. In fact, I suspect that this particular coin could pay for a new broom, as well.
At times, I think that I am guilty of holding on too tightly to lesser things, when something greater is available to be found. I hoard the metaphorical oil, when there is much greater treasure to be found by using that oil to shed some light around me. For whatever reason, I hesitate to use my resources to help in the search.
Jesus talked about those who didn’t spare lesser things in order to take hold of something much better. In Matthew 13:44-46, He described those who would sell all that they had in order to obtain great treasure. The Kingdom of Heaven is worth everything that we own on this earth, returning eternal dividends.
When we observe Jesus’ example, we find that He gave up everything that He had, in order to restore us. Despite our willful disobedience, God considers us to be valuable (see Matthew 10:29-31). In fact, Jesus’ love is so great for us that He gave up privilege, authority, and His very life in order to rescue us from the wages of our sin (see Philippians 2:6-11).
So, for those of us who wish to follow Jesus’ teaching and behavior, what lesser “costs” can we give up in order to find something much greater?
- Are we holding on to money or possessions that could be used for the Kingdom of God? (See Luke 12:16-21.)
- Are we pouring resources into ourselves, not just caring for our well-being, but going well past the requirements of health and necessity, into the domain of selfishness, when we could be investing in others? (See 1 John 3:16-19.)
- Are we spending our time in what makes us feel good, at the expense of spending our limited time doing what is good?
Today, I encourage us (myself included) to ponder what we have in our lives that could be exchanged for something better. Whether it is sharing our time, money, or skills to guide people towards a full life in Jesus Christ, or investing in our own discipleship, we might have to give up a few things in return for something better. And, some days we might feel like we’re burning our oil in a search that isn’t returning results. Still, when what is lost is found, its value will far overshadow the comparatively meager sacrifices we make.
In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Luke 15:10 NLT