29 March 2008

Buying and Selling

My neighbors across the street and two houses removed from our house have a very familiar sign in their front yard that reads ‘FOR SALE’. The house has been bought and sold several times over the years, so I am told. You see, we are a mobile society. Each year in the spring our community is affected by several military families moving to different locations throughout the world. Nation wide it seems that this is a bad time to have a house on the market. Buying and selling products and services is an integrated and important way of life in our country. However, there is a commodity of which I presently speak that should only be purchased and never to be sold at any cost.

In Proverbs 23:23 an important exhortation is given by the writer: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” Notice first of all this commodity is called “TRUTH”. It was Pilate who asked Jesus, “What is truth” (John 18:38)? Jesus in His prayer to God had already answered this question when He said, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus himself is the “truth” (John 14:6). The “truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). In this last passage, the Law of Moses was used in contrast to “the truth”. In this sense, the truth revealed through Jesus Christ is the gospel with its facts to be believed, its commands to be obeyed and the promises to be enjoyed (I Corinthians 15:1-3; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15, 16). Why should we purchase (obtain) the truth (gospel)? The apostle Paul declared that the gospel “… is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Second, we should buy ONLY the truth. Not everything is as good as it is said to be. There are some products that we may purchase that may be inferior to the standard that it claims. Even in religious matter not every teaching presented is the truth. We must examine such in the light of the Word of God. Paul taught in I Thessalonians 5:21 to “test all things; hold fast what is good.” The apostle John later wrote: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). We must discriminate between truth and error. The counterfeit is very difficult to detect because it so like the real thing.

Third, we are to buy ALL the truth. It is a critical mistake to fail to buy all the truth. When we purchase a product we desire and expect to receive all of that which pertains to the product. However there are those who will not buy all the truth. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus and inquired, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life” (Matthew 19:16-22) was not willing to buy all the teachings of the Lord. Because when he was instructed to sell his riches and give to the poor, he was unwilling to buy into all that Jesus told him to do. There are many religionists who will accept only partial truth. They refuse, however, to follow all the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding the plan of salvation and how to worship God acceptably. May we all possess a deep desire to learn all the truth that we can and have the faith and fortitude to obey the same.

Fourth, the sincere seeker of truth will purchase this precious commodity regardless of the price. In parables presented by Jesus He emphasized this very thing. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it’ (Matthew 13:44, 45, 46). Whether we speak in regards to the truth or the kingdom of Christ, the principle is the same; one must make every effort and exert every ounce of energy to obtain the truth.

Fifth, it is not enough to merely hear and know the Word of God, we must accept and obey the truth. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). The person who only hears the words of the Lord and does not do them is like the man who built his house on the sand. However, the disciple who hears the words of Jesus Christ and obeys them is like the man who built his house upon the rock which stood the ravages of nature (Matthew 7:24-27).

Sixth, we should buy the truth while we have the time and opportunity. Procrastination is a work of Satan. Many are the souls who planned to obey the gospel but delayed such a decision and died without Christ. We should never assume that additional opportunities will be afforded us to give our lives to Jesus. The wise man wrote in Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Also James gives this advice in James 4:13-17, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Seventh, the passage in Proverbs 23:23 which exhorts us to “Buy the truth” also informs us to “sell it not.” The purchase of the truth is a permanent investment and we should never depart from it. We should never exchange the truth for fame, popularity, wealth, position, power or pleasure. These are solemn words of our Savior as found in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Each person should study the Holy Scriptures in order to learn the truth. It said of the inhabitants of Berea that “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts17:11). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave this promise, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Again our Lord assured seekers of truth that they would be able to find it as explained in this passage in Matthew 7:7, 8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

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