Pearls are formed when a grain of sand gets into an oyster (or mussel) shell and irritates the sensitive oyster whose natural abilities allow it to abstract calcium carbonate from the sea water and coats the grain of sand. Over an extended period, the longer the time the larger the result, a pearl is created. It doesn’t happen inside every oyster shell although every oyster has the ability to create a pearl if given a grain of sand to do so with. Naturally created pearls are very valuable.
Man has of course learned how to stimulate oysters into making pearls. They look-alike but they aren’t as valuable.
Neither type of pearl comes out of the oysters looking perfectly round, smooth and polished. In fact if one didn’t know what they had they might even toss the pearl away. Both are also fragile, not being much stronger than a fingernail. If you know what you’re holding in your hand you will cherish it, have it polished and most likely set into some type of jewelry or sold.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they will trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”* Matthew 7: 6
Here, according to the study notes in my N.I.V. translation of the Word, Jesus is speaking of teaching in accordance with the spiritual capacity of the learners. His reference to dogs is related to the unclean dogs of the streets that were held in low esteem. And of course swine were considered unclean by the Jewish people from their instructions in the Old Testament.
This time Jesus is trying to help His audience (which includes us) to recognize the incredible value of Heaven. Being a resident of Heaven is so valuable to the human heart and soul that one should give up all they have to get it. Someone seeking God, when they open themselves to His presence will be found by Him, and will recognize the value of that relationship.
In I Timothy 2:9-10 women are instructed to not use pearls, gold, braids or expensive clothes to draw attention to themselves in an inappropriate way. Timothy calls upon women to dress modestly with good deeds that become a woman who confesses to worship God.
Revelation 21:21 tells us that the twelve gates of heaven are each made of single pearls. Verse 12 of the same chapter tells us that on each gate one of the names of the 12 twelve tribes of Israel is carved. God, through John tells us here that pearls are beautiful and regal enough to be used as building material in Heaven.
Earthly pearls, whether they are created naturally or forced to develop by man are beautiful once they are cleaned, shined and polished. In their natural state they are not that attractive, one has to know what one has to know its value.
How like our relationship with Jesus. It is natural for us to have a yearning for God. It is also natural for us to want to do evil, to want our own way, to do what feels good. We have the ability, the capacity to find that missing relationship with our Creator or attempt to fill that role with multiple relationships with other “things”. We can allow the irritations of this world to create a pearl of great value in our lives by seeking to draw from the presence of God around us. Or, like the manmade pearls, we can create imitations by seeking other things that we can use to replicate what is valuable.
Which do you choose, the real pearl or the manmade one? On the surface they may look the same, clean up the same, be used to create replicas of the same jewelry but only the ones that occur in nature are true pearls. One is genuine. One is a very good imitation. “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”** the real God or the imitations of man?