A central component of our human condition is the desire to be happy. I recently asked a group of 5–8 year olds to tell me what makes them happy. At the top of their lists were video games, sports, food, family, and puppies (of course).Whether 5 years old or 95 years old, every human being wants to be happy. The question is not whether we should desire happiness; the question centers around the source of our happiness.
In Matthew 13:44 Jesus tells an important parable:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
In this context, Jesus is teaching that the kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure and the source of true and everlasting joy. The treasure in the parable is the source of this man’s joy. Literally, “from his joy he sells all that he has.” His joy—or affection—causes him to do something radical.
Matthew 19:16–30 shows us a contrasting interaction between Jesus and a rich young man. This man seemed to be a good, moral person, but Jesus told him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”
The response of this man is devastating: “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
In both stories the kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure and both were led to give up everything they had for it. However, where one saw the treasure as a source of great joy, the other saw the cause of great sorrow.
Jesus is the greatest treasure and source of eternal joy because He gave himself up for us and died in our place. In a response of gratitude we forsake everything and give Him our full devotion and praise. But if our treasure and happiness are found in anything besides Jesus, His call will bring us grief.
Friends, no matter what we face, Jesus is a great treasure and the only One who can give eternal and lasting happiness. This doesn’t mean we won’t face difficulty or trial in this life, but it does mean our perspective and treasure is heavenly.