Jesus told a parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

It might be easy to glance over a one sentence parable. I try to picture the story in more depth. A lot of questions come up. What was he doing in the field? What were his circumstances? Was he down and out, just working away or happy-go-lucky? Was he searching out a clue? We know he was joyful upon finding the treasure, but did his heart race at the thought of not buying this field in time? Did he hesitate to sell all that he had — that’s ALL that he had — to buy this field? Was there a doubt in his mind about the value of the treasure? We could come up with many more questions.

Unpacking this short parable can help us see how we value the kingdom of heaven. Are we willing to give up all we have to acquire this treasure? Do we even see it as treasure or is simply having some God in our lives good enough?

In this column called Principles of Prosperity, one might think comfort, security and riches are the objectives. Rather, the pursuit of relationship with our Creator and Father is the objective. We are to act faithfully as stewards of all that He has entrusted to us. The temporary outcomes might vary, as Paul said, he has “learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” But, Jesus tells us that the lasting outcome is valuable.

In Revelation 3:14–22, Jesus rebukes the church in Laodicea for being lukewarm about Him. “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (v16). This is a group of people casual in their relationship with God, comfortable with their money. They knew of God, but relied on their riches. And, the rebuke is stinging. “I will spit you out of my mouth…you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” This is most of America.

Pastor Francis Chan of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA gives an outstanding message on this topic. You can see it on YouTube. I encourage you to watch it. He explains how we can analyze this thoroughly, but the message clearly states that God is not pleased with a “lukewarm,” half-hearted, casual relationship with Him. Pastor Chan says we are at a “serious disadvantage spiritually” with all that we have.

The rebuke to the Laodiceans was not to crush them but to lift them up. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (v19).

The message was to help them see the real treasure. They could sit blinded by their worthless possessions (though they had the appearance of value and security), or they could give it all up for the overwhelming value of the kingdom of heaven. They could — we could — buy the field and its treasure or just leave it and walk away.

This doesn’t mean you should automatically sell your house and liquidate your retirement accounts. God calls us to save and to increase what He has entrusted to us. But, it’s all His.

His rebuke to the church in Laodicea is followed by the promise of our lifetime, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne.” That’s the treasure. And, if you need further explanation of the treasure, read Revelation 4 (the very next chapter) when it describes the scene of heaven and its atmosphere of worship and elegance with the throne in the middle of it. Wow!

Pastor Chan ends his message with concern: some will hear his message and do nothing about it. Or worse yet, many will hear the message and have no desire to do anything about it because they are comfortable being lukewarm. I hope that you will pursue the real treasure…