Ever seen or heard of the most beautiful pearls? The best pearls are not made in the factory by machines; they are made through the sufferings of the oyster.
Jesus once described, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” [Matthew 13:46]
Pearls are ornaments of beauty that would beautify anyone who wore it. Somehow, the very rich treasure pearls more than jewelries of metals such as gold, silver, platinum, etc. and even diamonds and other precious minerals. Pearls are exceptional and stand tall and beloved uniquely.
How Are Pearls Made Naturally?
“A pearl is a hard object that is produced in the soft tissue of a shelled mollusk such as an oyster or a clam. It is made up of calcium carbonate which is the same substance that the shell of the mollusk is made of. Naturally occurring pearls are rare and hard to come across and it is only recently that people discovered how pearls are formed. A natural pearl is formed when an irritant such as sand or a parasite enters the shell of the mollusk. The mollusk forms a pearl sac around the irritant and produces a mucus-like substance made of calcium carbonate to coat it. The process is repeated dozens of times and the mucus hardens to form a pearl.”
These pearls are quite precious; but there are other types that are artificially made and hence of much lower value. These are usually fakes, but they do look like the real thing. Can you know the difference? Of course you can! Hereunder, is a list of tests the experts say can be carried out to tell the difference.
#1. Tooth Test: Rub the pearls lightly across upper front teeth.
#2. Drill a hole in the pearl; then examine the hole with a magnifying glass.
#3. Weight: Bounce the pearls in your hand.
#4. Flaws: Examine the pearls for flaws and blemishes.
#5. Price: Compare the price to similar pearls from other dealers.
Believers in Christ are often made to pass through similar tests to prove themselves, just like Gideon’s Army of 300. Sadly, many fall at the first test; and the reason is not too far-fetched. It is because they are unable to control their mouths.
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man.” [Matthew 15:18-20]
Some who happen to scale the first hurdle, allow themselves to be overcome by the “Drill of a hole”. Remember Jacob? He was tired of his troublesome life and he wrestled with God and the angel touched his thigh. Some believers experience a little trouble in their lives and give up after praying on the matter once or twice. Jesus said, when I return would I find faith on the Earth?
Those who pass the drill test and come out limping (like Jacob) often discover that no sooner had they overcome, than another test shows up. This test is the very limp – the “disability” they suffered because of the Presence of Christ in their lives. It now becomes something they are mocked about by the world, and even close relations and friends who see it as their “dead limbs”, a weight to carry and a burden to be lived. What then happens to the believer? If he is not careful, he will begin to moan and murmur or even become bitter towards God, asking “Why this, why that, why me?” I used to have a friend who would ask, “Did I kill the mother of Jesus?”
This brings us to the next test for a priced pearl – weight. The heavier or larger a pearl is, the more valuable it is. This simply shows that it has taken a longer time to form. In most cases, these pearls are usually close to being perfectly round. “The surface quality is another important factor when looking at pearls and trying to gauge their quality. The cleaner the surface of a pearl, the better it is.
Of course with pearls being a natural product (even a cultured pearl), flawless pearls are very high to come by and when you do see them, a premium is charged. Small imperfections on the surface of pearls are natural. What you want to avoid are pearls with pits on the surface, cracks or peeling nacre….”
Others will soon recognize, like Job, and say “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will defend my own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for a hypocrite shall not come before him.” [Job 13:15-16] Then they start rejoicing in their sufferings and experience a greater depth of hope.
Then we come to the ‘flaws and blemishes’ test. Fake pearls appear as flawless; but pearls of great price reveal that they are not perfect even in their splendid beauty. Have you ever come very close to a man anointed of God who appears to have no flaws? Everything about him seems perfect; his grammar is perfect, he dresses well in the most expensive clothes, he is clean and lives fabulously rich (nothing wrong with those things). But lifting the veil, what do you see? Christ or self? If you see self (pride, anger, manipulation, careless living, lusts, looseness, inordinate affection, etc.) you are looking at a fake believer.
While most common pearls are neutral or near-neutral in body colour, because pearls are made of layers, the layers create the overtones. The rare colours are seen as more precious than the common colours. This rarity enhances their beauty because they will always stand out in the place of commonness.
A genuine man of God would always be quick to recognize that he must humble himself before the throne of grace and constantly wash in the water of the Word. He must have people around him that would help him not to get above himself when he experiences a little success, especially as an “unprofitable servant” [Luke 17:10].
Then there is the price test. With this price test there is one major thing that makes it unique – Luster. “Pearls retain their look longer with a high luster. A pearl with excellent luster is sharp and distinct.” The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has some strict guidance on what to look for in determining the quality of a pearl: how to examine pearls to determine their quality. This is what they have to say:
Excellent – reflections are bright, sharp, and distinct
Good– Reflections are bright but not sharp, and they are slightly hazy around the edges
Fair – Reflections are weak, hazy, and blurred
Poor– Reflections are dim and diffused
Let us now examine how the pearl relates to a believer in Jesus Christ:
A believer whose sole purpose for living is Christ will fall into the first grade. He will be the type that never hides the light of God in him, who does not live for self, knows and accepts “that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” [2 Corinthians 5:15]
Elijah the Tishbite was such a man. He never cared to live for himself. When they were searching for him, his simplicity was incredible. You would think he would be dressed up like some millionaire.
“And they answered him, ‘He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins.’ And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.’” [2 Kings 1:8].
Notice that Elijah wore no fancy clothes and no array of rings in his nose or fingers. He had no private jet or mansion, but he was as plain and bare as the morning sunshine, he was a light shining in darkness, cannot be hid and would not be hid from the gross darkness that was covering the people at the time. Physically speaking, he was nothing to talk about, but spiritually, he was a terror to the kingdom of darkness!
In some cases, there is no distinction between a believer and an unbeliever. The only difference is in confession not profession. A believer who lives a hypocritical and self-deluded life would be so cheap in the spiritual realm that even angels would not want to associate with him. The devil would use him and his words as a joke when he encounters them. “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. [1 Samuel 3:1]
I will summarize this article with this reminder: When dirt gets into the oyster, it gets irritated so much that it releases its own secretions…. then you get the gem of a beautiful pearl.
God is using the pains of trials to make a beauty out of you and you should be thankful for them. But you need to ALSO surrender your pride, lusts, manipulations, anger (and other works of the flesh) to the Lord. Let them be crucified and you will experience the resurrection power, too! You will turn out to be a pearl of great price in the Hands of the Lord.
Treatment of Pearls
It is also important for you to realize that pearls need to be looked after and not treated carelessly. Esau was on a roll to inherit the blessing of great things, but in a moment of profanity, he despised and threw it away. The scriptures say that he later sought it with tears, but never regained it. “Never give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them with their feet and then turn around and attack you.” [Matthew 7:6]
What shall I say about Samson, who treated his pearls of great price with such carelessness that he not only lost it, but lost his eyes and ultimately his life! No wonder we are warned:
“No one should be immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterwards, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he could not find any opportunity to repent, even though he begged for it with tears.” [Hebrews 12:16-17 ISV]
How Do You Preserve Your Pearls?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1 KJ2000]
We are to constantly present ourselves as a living sacrifice. When you do that regularly, you will do well. Your worth and value will not only be preserved, but it will surely increase. As the saying goes, “like old wine, it will get better with age.”
When Christ was raised from the dead, He did not allow Mary to touch Him because of the precious Blood that He was going to present in the heavenly temple. “Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” [John 20:17]
Why was Jesus’ blood so precious? It was offered blamelessly, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” [Hebrews 9:14]
The best pearls are not made in a lab, neither are they manufactured in a factory, they are made as a result of the sufferings of an oyster. It reacts to the strange events that affects its life, it secrets and works with it, it concentrates it effort on creating beauty out of ugliness.
How many times a believer have encountered situations that are inexplicable and thinks that the Lord has forgotten them. No, you shouldn’t, because Job also felt that way, and he has this to say, “But he knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” [Job 23:10 KJ2000]
In essence, I am encouraging you, as a partaker of His divine grace, “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” [1 Thessalonians 3:3]
One thing you should know is that Christ is right in the middle of your sufferings with you, He knows how you feel and what it is that awaits you at the end of those things that cause irritation to your life. The pearls of God are not formed in comfort, they are formed through the purification that comes through trials and temptations. Things that cause irritation to the “normal” human life, especially one that will not compromise Christ’s love for the pleasures of this world.
“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” [Isaiah 63:9]
Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.” [Hebrews 10:35]
One day, God will separate His precious jewels, too. These are jewels that have been formed through trials and temptations. He will make a distinction from the fakes, the worthless and the useless pearls.
“And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him.” [Malachi 3:17]
God wants us to be precious pearls in His Hands, we need to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice with holy hands, pure hearts and pure life!
This is so beautiful. I love it! So simple yet so profound. Who would have thought to make the comparison between a precious pearl and a believer in Jesus Christ? Yet, upon examination, it is so true. Thanks John, brilliant article as usual. I thank God for all that He has equipped you with to help people like me.