Economics, like most fields of study, has its own collection of theories that help to govern it. One of the most important of these is known as the subjective theory of value, which tells us that individuals place different values on different things. For example, the value that Amelia places on her car may not be the same as the value that Leah places on it. Leah may think that two thousand dollars is a perfectly fair price for Amelia’s vehicle, but if Amelia is not willing to sell it for less than three thousand dollars, she does not agree with Leah on the car’s value.
When we come to the discipline of ethics, we see something similar. Properly speaking, the ethical study of values has to deal with what people subjectively believe to be right or wrong. It is the descriptive part of the science of ethics, for it only tells us the moral worth that individuals actually invest in various behaviors and dispositions, not the moral worth that they should invest in such things. In ethical theory, ethics delineates the objective and prescriptive part of the discipline. Ethics are the fixed standards of right and wrong to which people should conform.
Regarding Christian ethical theory, ethics and values overlap in that God’s values are the objective ethical standard of right and wrong. We must value what the Lord values, and as Jesus tells us in today’s passage, this means we must value God’s kingdom above all else. In both stories, something is discovered that prompts the finder to sell everything else that he owns for the sake of possessing the treasure. The worth of everything he owns cannot be compared to the valuables that he finds, and so he is willing to part with all else so that he can have the treasure of inestimable value (Matt. 13:44–46).
Jesus’ point is obvious—there is no prize greater or of higher worth than the kingdom of God. It is so valuable that we must pursue it with urgency. None of our earthly goods must hold us back. We must be willing to forsake everything if that is what it will take to receive citizenship in our Lord’s blessed realm.
Christ makes the same essential point throughout His ministry. In Matthew 16:24–28, He says that gaining the whole world at the expense of one’s soul is not worth it. If we seek to lay hold of the things of this world, we will end up losing everything. But if we surrender everything to Him and His lordship, we will gain everything