Planks, Pearls & Pigs. . .

planks-pearls-pigsI’ve always loved pearls, because I’m a June baby.  As birthstones go, they are unusual in that they aren’t stones.  But their beauty and value are so captivating that they’re still considered precious stones.

When I was in grade school, my Spanish teacher gave me the name Perla because of my very light blonde hair.  I don’t think she realized that pearl was also my birthstone.

So, in considering pearls recently,  I pondered the meaning and looked up pearls in the Word.  It always amazed me to think that the heavenly gates are each made from a single pearl.  I’d love to see that.  In fact, I actually plan on it!

Revelation 21:21. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl.  And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

If you can envision these amazing pearls, then you will have a tiny inkling of just how vast and abundant the heavenly realms are.  God is the King of Kings, so He has riches and splendor available for His children that we can barely imagine.

I love the parable of the man who found a pearl of great price and sold everything to acquire it.  Matthew 13:45-46 says,  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

This reminds us of how priceless the kingdom of God is to us.  It’s really worth everything we could possibly give.  I’m thankful that Jesus paid that high price for us, though, because I know I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything sufficient to secure it for myself.

Another reference hints at the fact that pearls are metaphoric symbols of something of greater value.

Matthew 7:6. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

After reading that, I had to ask myself, what are my pearls?  Yes, I have some physical ones, and I do know the verse refers to a spiritual “pearl.”  I believe what God is referring to is what are commonly known as “pearls of wisdom.”  In fact, the saying literally comes from the scriptural concept in that verse.

Job 28:18 also gives us a clue.   “Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; And the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls.”

Today, we live in a world full of people who operate out of human wisdom or even without any wisdom.  Many people just allow talking heads in the media or worse, their own thoughts and whims, to dictate what they believe.

That is a very dangerous situation and one which has resulted in great division in our nation.  In my experience, a vast majority function without any wisdom, much less godly wisdom.

So what does that have to do with planks and pigs, you might ask?  I believe we need to recognize the condition of those around us and determine to respond to others with godly wisdom instead of human thought processes and opinions.

With this in mind, we need to take a look at the context of what is my anchor scripture reference today.

Matthew 7:3-4.  “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:5. “Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

I believe what happens most of the time is that we read the three verses and forget the last, most important part.  The word “then” is there because it’s only after we have completed the first two instructions that we are in any position to help someone else.

These verses are in the context of judging others.  Okay, I know, that’s a really hot button!  But we need to see what God says about it in order to understand what He is getting at here.

If you look back up to the beginning of this chapter, the verse immediately before these verses says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and, by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

Now, I don’t want to get into a long drawn out teaching about judgment today because I don’t want to lose sight of what God may be getting at.  What I believe we need to understand is that having something in our own life that causes us to be blinded to our own sin must be taken care of before we can help anyone else.  We have to have soft hearts and a willingness to be humble in order to serve others around us.

No one wants to be around someone who is self righteous and condemning.  People won’t be helped by that kind of attitude.  In order to be effective, we have to recognize that God has given us wonderful pearls of wisdom for others.

That’s His gift for the body of Christ.  But, if we are not looking at that big broad ugly plank that is sticking out of our own eye, we won’t be able to truly see clearly enough to judiciously point out what others may need to do in order to grow and change.

Since the whole purpose of the body of Christ coming together is to help build each other up, it won’t do any good if we refuse to examine ourselves first so we can then humbly point out truth to our fellow body parts.

It doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to judge rightly!  In fact, the verses indicate that we are expected to help point out things in our brother’s lives that they may not see.  It just means we have to look at our own attitudes and mindsets, first, to be sure we are free from sin as we reach out to someone else.

Secondly, if we just go around throwing out our pearls of wisdom where no one has asked for them, we can end up in the pig pen at risk of being trampled.  That is certainly not what God has in mind.

If we are to serve the Lord effectively within a group of believers, it would be wise to recognize the three strange symbols of planks, pearls and pigs, and how they apply to our ministry to one another.

Right here and now, I’d like to ask anyone for forgiveness if I have offered my advice or my observations without considering the fact that maybe you didn’t really want it.  That was never my intention.  I’m also fully aware that my blog offers advise and wisdom, but hopefully you chose to read it and weren’t forced to hear something you didn’t request.

Also, if I have ever pointed out a speck in your eye and had a plank sticking out of my own, please forgive me.  I was blind.  Hopefully there aren’t any more planks in there.  Now, that all said, it brings me to the point I want to get to.

Sometimes God gives us wonderful insight and wisdom for someone else in their predicaments.  If we have a prophetic nature, or like me, a teacher anointing, we tend to want to give our pearls out abundantly.  The caution here is that sometimes we are surrounded by pigs.  Sorry, no offense intended.

What I mean by that, is that some people are actually happy in their mud and mire.  Pointing out the obvious or trying to help them get out can be risky.  That doesn’t mean we can’t offer suggestions if God is calling us to do it.  It just means we need to exercise great humility and wisdom in the process.

Sometimes your pearls of wisdom are too valuable to offer to someone who has no desire to receive them.  Having a beautiful pearl trampled in the mud doesn’t seem like a good use of it’s beauty and value.  In other words, giving that wisdom to someone who isn’t ready to receive may actually waste what God gave you and do more harm than good.

Instead, I recommend heading to the prayer closet rather than the pig pen.  That way you can pray about the situation and the person without putting yourself at risk of being trampled or without giving such a treasure away to the mud.  If you’ve ever given advise or correction to someone who didn’t want or ask for it first, then you probably got trampled.

When we carefully examine ourselves before helping others and don’t just throw out the knowledge and wisdom God has blessed us with, then we come into a place of having spiritual authority.  If you know that you have this authority in a person’s life, you might be free to share your pearls with them.

If you have not established that with someone, then I challenge you to see if there’s a big long plank hanging around somewhere…  Spiritual authority must be earned.  So, don’t assume you have it, if you’ve never established relationship with someone.

My prayer for you all today is that you would examine yourself in humility, reach out to help others only after you’ve done that, and prayerfully consider whose life you speak into.

God wants the value He gives us to be treasured.  He wants our encouragement and our exhortation to be based on the other person’s need and not born out of our own.  Perhaps, if you are ministering out of your own need, it might be time for a “plank-ectomy”

When Jesus told us to go make disciples, He meant that we had to do it through relationship.  If you’re surrounded by pigs (sorry…) then maybe you need to see if you can befriend some of them before you try to help.

Having this humble spiritual authority, if you are able to receive this understanding, insures you won’t land you in a pig sty with a plank in your eye throwing all your pearls into the mud.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

Matthew 7:1-6

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Always in Jesus,
Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the “Follow” button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you in the trail.

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The Berry Bowl . . .

berry-bowl

Lately, I’ve found myself engaged in several discussions with others about possessions we have to get rid of when we move.

These chats reminded me that when I was growing up, we moved many many times.  I’ve even moved a few more times since I’ve been married but not nearly at the same rate.

We didn’t move every year; sometimes we moved more than once a year.  By the time I was 19, I had 19 different addresses!

Moving is definitely one of those things that I dread, but also have come to expect. Several years ago, when my mother had to move out of her home in Arizona and move in with my sister in Texas, she had to purge most of her belongings.  After all the moves she’s made, I’m sure that one wasn’t easy.

Thankfully, she had given me a glass bowl before she packed up for that move.  It’s a very ordinary glass bowl. On the outside it is so plain that no one would think it has any special value.

My mother and sister, Marci, recently moved to a new place, and when my sister texted me to tell me it was moving day, I had a lot of things flood my memory.

Seemingly unrelated, I had made tacos for New Year’s Day with my in-laws.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have a recipe we used as children that my mom taught all of us how to make.

So, when I make tacos, it’s usually for a very special occasion.  I served our tacos in a Lazy-Susan which came from my childhood. One of the specially designed pieces had broken but I’d found a set of pieces that matched the old set pretty closely, so it looked complete when I served the meal.

Again, memories flooded me when I used the simple set of ceramic pieces.  I began to ponder this morning about these things we bring with us every time we move because they have some special meaning to our hearts even though they don’t have much intrinsic value.

The very plain glass berry bowl my mother had given me just happened to be one her great-grandmother had used when she picked and served fresh berries.  I don’t have anything else in my life that has come that far down through the family.

I have my mother’s China that she got piece by piece from the grocery store in the seventies when I was in high school.  I have 2 ceramic vases that belonged to my husband’s great-aunt and the Kneeling Lady hood ornament from the Rolls Royce my Dad purchased on the day my son was born.  I have a lot of knick-knacks, but nothing so special as those few pieces.

My other sister, Denise, is going through a time of purging her possessions as well.  She has been telling me of the difficulty of making decisions about keeping things that seem to have value only because they are sentimental.

Someone is helping her through the process and has told her, that ‘no one is going to want this stuff when you’re gone anyway so you may as well get rid of it now.’  I don’t know how much I agree with her in view of my special berry bowl that could easily have been thrown out many many times.

I’m facing having to purge my own house as we are in the very early stages of planning our own move this year. I know there are many things that have to go, but I guarantee you my great-great grandmother’s berry bowl, the ceramic vases, the Lazy-Susan and the hood ornament won’t be among them.

Their sentimental value far exceeds their apparent value.  Of course you know, I tend to see things in symbols and metaphors.  It’s not too difficult to recognize where I might be going with this analogy.  But bear with me, because I think it will bless your heart today.

The berry bowl is absolutely unremarkable just to look at it. Very often, people tend to feel as if they are not very remarkable either, or that they don’t have a whole lot of impact on the world around them.

I’m sure that the simple glass bowl, when it was used, didn’t seem to have much value even to my great-great-grandmother.  But my mother vividly remembers those berries.  The fact that someone kept that bowl all these years reveals it’s true value.

God made us all with value that matters to Him.  People might look at us on the outside and not really see our value.  But God sees all of it.  The Bible tells us that He has numbered the very hairs on our heads.

I don’t know about you but I brush my hair and a whole lot of them fall out.  I don’t want to lose my hair, but I assure you I don’t worry about a couple of them falling out.  And yet He counts them!  I’m amazed.

You see, when something has sentimental value, you cannot put a price on it.  Since we recently finished celebrating the birth of our Savior, it’s fresh in all of our minds that He came and submitted Himself to lowly flesh so He could purchase us for His kingdom.

If you ask Him, I promise you, He will tell you it was worth it.  If you go through and look at what He suffered, it will make you almost sick inside.  But He would tell you, you were worth it.

In this new year with all the changes coming and all the things that are being shaken, it’s very easy to get our eyes off of what’s important.  It’s easy to forget our value in our Lord’s eyes.

We will focus on goals and new tasks or different ways of doing things with this new year in front of us.  Your life might be turning upside down or you might be having changes like a major move, but I encourage you, in the process, to keep in mind the value God has placed on each one of us because we matter to Him so much.

Similar to what happens with with our possessions, we will go through life and make friends.  Some we will keep, some we will have to let go.  It can be very bitter-sweet, like an unripe berry amid the ripe ones.

I trust that you’ll be able to see how important it is to value a person because of their value in the eyes of our King.  He took 9 months to make every single baby in this world and He tells us that we were precious to Him even before we were born.

Because of some of the changes that have been made on our political landscape, I have hope that this year and those coming ahead may bring an end to the horrible practice of abortion.

I know our society has a lot of problems with the issue on both sides, and I don’t want to get into any discussion about that today.  But the way I see it, it’s all about value.

Many people have simple glass bowls, but not many have one which belonged to their great-great grandmother.  To me, that’s value.  It’s probably not worth twenty cents at a garage sale, but to me it’s something I will keep as long as I live and pass on to my own grandchild someday.

It’s really a matter of perspective.  I encourage you today, to remember the value of each person you come in contact with.  Remember that you may not see on the outside the value that God has placed on that person.  But God does.

You may look yourself in the mirror and often times be discouraged at who you seem to be, but remember how God sees you; a highly valued possession worth more even than the life of His own Son.

Now that’s value.  So, it doesn’t really matter where you live or how many times you have to move in this life, what you value is what you’ll keep.  Things really mean very little in the grand scheme of things.

Even if the most valued things end up breaking or getting lost or left behind, our value never diminishes in our Lord’s eyes.

My prayer for you today is that you will evaluate yourself and others, not based on the outside qualities, talents or abilities, or the apparent lack of value, but instead on the value that God has assigned to us simply because He loves us.

So just the same way I treasure that very special berry bowl – to God, we are truly His most treasured possessions.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Mathew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you in the trail.

Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.