This evening someone wondered to me why pearls are valuable. I tried to answer him: “Because they can only be found inside oysters on the bottom of the sea.”
“But oysters can only be found on the bottom of the sea.”
“Yes, but pearls are beautiful. You wouldn’t wear a necklace of oysters.”
“Wouldn’t you?” (mischievous smile)
“Maybe you would. . . I wonder why people have always placed value on rare things – it’s strange. Or maybe it isn’t strange.”
“It is strange.”
They are beautiful. They are hard to get. Therefore they are precious. That doesn’t quite satisfy. Or does it? I cannot explain that side of human nature. But I know it exists.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate . . . ” (Genesis 3:6) Hard-to-get comes into the equation when we consider that it was forbidden to her. And in the eating, she made many other beautiful things hard to get. Life, for instance. Food. Salvation. Some things became impossible.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it ” (Matthew 13:45, 46).
But all that we have is not enough to buy it. We can only obtain it as a gift, bought with the all of the One who had enough. It is beautiful. Rare. Precious. Like a pearl.
And so I have come full circle, without really answering the pearl question.