This morning I read from Matthew 13, about the treasure hidden in the field, and about the pearl of great price. I was thinking about the characters in those stories - how each man recognized the import of the choice with which he was confronted, and each acted decisively in choosing the option of highest value.
Earlier this week, our Duke Bible study group "storied" the account of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17–27. I couldn't help drawing parallels between the stories. The young man was also confronted with a choice between holding onto his possessions--his earthly security--and letting go in order to grasp something of far greater value. Unlike the characters in the parables, the young man walked away without attaining the treasure, either because he failed to recognize the significance of the offer, or because he was unable to take the steps necessary to grasp it.
Considering these three stories, I began to pray that, if confronted with a similarly momentous choice, God would give me (1) the discernment to recognize its import, and (2) the fortitude to step out actually make the right choice.
Then something occurred to me. Wait a minute--what was it that Naaman's servant said to him? "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, 'Wash, and be clean?' " (2 Kings 5:13 KJV). Naaman almost missed a pearl of great price because he thought it was some little thing!
Or what about Luke 16:10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much"? (Note: Christ's Object Lessons pp. 356-58, and Messages to Young People, pp. 143-145 provide awesome commentary on this passage.)
Maybe the choices I face every day--the little things: whether to keep eating after I'm comfortably full, whether to read that frivolous story on Wired, whether to go to bed early so I can wake up and spend sufficient time with God in the morning--maybe these little things are the biggest determinants of what I will do when confronted with a treasure-in-the-field choice...
Remember the two required qualities to get it right when confronted with one of these choices: the discernment to recognize the significance of the decision, and the fortitude to actually choose the right option, even when it seems contradictory to conventional wisdom?
Being faithful in little decisions develops both of these character qualities!
Recognizing significant moral decisions requires that we develop a clear channel of communication with the Holy Spirit, and train our spiritual senses to be sensitive to moral choices. And actually making the right choice when it counts is conditioned by our habitual choices in simple, everyday situations.
"[W]e act on the principles to which [w]e have accustomed [ourselves]. Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided." COL 356
Lord, I want to be the kind of person who has the discernment to recognize the right course of action to take in difficult circumstances, and the courage to take that path. Please help me to see the importance of my simple, everyday choices in developing that kind of character.