Monday, September 12, 2011

The Parable of the Pearls

There was once a man who labored long hours, over many years for his life's treasure--a beautiful collection of pearls. He fashioned a box and lined it with velvet so that he could protect his pearls  from harm and treasure them always. He tenderly placed the pearls in the box and put the box in a safe place in his very own room.

Every day, he came home, opened the box, and gazed at the pearls, enjoying them and appreciating their rare beauty. The years passed and more responsibilities seemed to crowd his schedule. One day, he came home weary, and decided to skip his nightly ritual. He could see the box up on its shelf as he passed. He smiled to himself, knowing that they were still there.

As his life got more crowded and his time seemed to pass more swiftly, he forgot more often than not to stop and view the pearls and to enjoy them while appreciating their beauty. One afternoon, a friend knocked at the door. He told a sad tale of financial woe and lamented that he had a bill due soon and he had nothing with which to pay it. "I know just the thing to help!" the man told him. He went up to his room and withdrew the box. The lid creaked a bit as he opened it, and he thought absentmindedly that he should fix the hinge. The pearls were all there, but he blinked a bit and wondered if perhaps they weren't quite as lovely as before. "But of course they are!" he told himself, and hurriedly closed the box as he went to deliver one of the pearls to his friend. "I won't miss one!" he reasoned with himself. "And I'm helping out a friend in need."

Not long after, a stranger came to the door and told a tale of a great charity work in which he was involved, and how much they needed help for their noble cause. He asked with eloquent words for any help the man could give. The man had spent his life working for the treasure in the box upstairs, and didn't have a lot of funds at his disposal, so he went up to his room and withdrew the box again. He blew some dust from its top and opened the creaky hinge. The pearls were still there, and this time he barely glanced at them with a brief smile as he withdrew one and satisfied a twinge of discomfort with these words, "It is good to help out humanity. And, of course, I have many pearls left."

As time went on, and more needs arose, it became easier and easier for the man to dispose of the pearls he had so greatly treasured. He always assured himself that there were plenty there and though he really should take better care of the box, it still kept them nicely protected.

One day, an old beggar came to the door, asking for a handout. It was obvious that the beggar was able to work, but chose to use his time in other ways such as asking for the support of others. The man, impatient to get the man off of his porch so he could get back to his own responsibilities, hurried upstairs as had become his custom to give the beggar just one of his pearls to satisfy him. He grasped the box and pulled it towards him. He had to pry a bit to lift the lid, but it finally gave way. As he reached his hand in to remove one of his pearls, he felt around in dismay. He opened the box that had kept his pearls safe all these years a little wider, but all that was in the box was a frayed, velvet lining. "All my beautiful pearls! Gone! Who has taken them?"

It was then he realized that his greatest treasure had not been taken at all. It had been given away, little by little, by none other than himself. He, who had pledged to keep it safe and enjoy it forever. He, who had thought that the box he had carefully crafted would be sufficient guard to protect it. He, who now had nothing to show for his life but an empty box.

So many treat their relationships with their husbands like the man did his pearls. They remember the day when they would give anything just to be with him and call him their own. They look back to those early years, when they would spend evenings together, just enjoying one another. They fondly recall the days when they appreciated him and valued him. Now they try to find that relationship again, only to find that they have only an empty and deteriorating box called a marriage, with all pearls of loving relationship gone.

Jewellery boxI am convinced that most marriage relationships are not taken from us. They are given up, little by little. We may rely too much on the protection we call marriage and over time forget the beauty of our relationship with our husbands. We get busy and stop cultivating and enjoying it. Then, we begin to give it away. We have many good least in the beginning. A flirtation here, letting our guard down there, a disparaging word about him to a friend here and harsh words spoken to him there. One pearl handed away at a time.

Let us dust off the box that we call marriage, repairing the hinges and the lining if necessary. Then, let us simply enjoy the relationship again. Let us appreciate our husbands and guard that relationship with our very lives:  before the pearls that we once treasured so highly have all trickled away and all we hold is an empty box.

PhotobucketJennifer Self is a disciple of Jesus Christ who loves following His plan for her life as a wife to the most wonderful man in the world and mama to four little blessings. Her days are filled with spending time with her man, homeschooling, preparing reasonably healthy meals and keeping the dust bunnies and the clutter monster at bay with a little blogging mixed in. After her family has been taken care of, she dabbles in her other passions of reading, health and music. She blogs about her life, her Heavenly Father, marriage, parenting and home at and real food for real families from the perspective of real faith at

Linked to:

1 comment:

  1. What a good illustration! I agree with you that marriages usually are not given away all at once. Things start to slip little by little and it just seems to keep going. Sadly, I've witnessed it happening in one or two marriages of people I've known.