When I was a little girl, I remember sitting with my mother and her showing me her beautiful jewelry and explaining to me how she had acquired her different pieces…whether it was a handed down family treasure or a special gift from my father. I vividly recall this one piece of jewelry…a necklace…that she always described as a cultured pearl necklace.
Since my mother’s passing just over 4 years ago, I have kept all her jewelry and oftentimes wear some of her pieces as a meaningful reminder of her amazing love and beauty. I recently pulled out her box of jewelry and saw again the cultured pearl necklace that she would often describe to me.
I never really knew why she always called it a “cultured” pearl necklace instead of just a pearl necklace. After some research, I have finally learned what a cultured pearl is and the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl.
We know pearls to be one of the most valuable and precious natural gems…but in order to understand their value, it is important for us to know just how a pearl is created….because a very important element must be present in the process of making a pearl.
A natural pearl begins to form when a foreign object such as a grain of sand enters an oyster shell. This grain of sand causes friction in the inner tissue of the oyster thus causing the oyster to encapsulate this grain of sand in layers of a substance called nacre. It is this substance nacre which a pearl is actually composed of. The pearl grows in size as the number of nacre layers increases.
This process is truly an amazing act of God, isn’t?! I mean for something so beautiful and precious and pure to develop so perfectly and organically from an oyster at the bottom of the ocean is beyond comprehension to me!
But I would like to draw your attention for a moment to not only the beauty and value of this gem, but to the presence of a very important element here…the grain of sand (foreign object) that causes the friction!
How many of you like friction in your life? I can venture to say more confidently than not that you…like me…are not big fans of friction, right?!
Why? Because friction doesn’t feel good…it makes us uncomfortable.
The word friction is defined as “the rubbing of one body against another; the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact; the clashing between two persons or parties of opposed views; disagreement.
Yup…that sure doesn’t sound too good to me!
However, this friction must be present in order for this grain of sand to develop into a valuable gem that is refined, stainless, spotless, free of blemishes, and free from foreign, contaminating, or inappropriate elements…a pure and natural pearl!
And so, just as this friction must be present in order for this grain of sand to become a beautiful pearl, God allows and uses friction in our lives to develop, refine, and purify us in our character and in areas of our lives.
This friction can occur in your relationship with your spouse, co-worker, friend, family member or child…and many times in your relationship with God! This friction can be between your will and God’s will for your life… your fleshly desires and God’s desires…what you want to do and what God wants you to do.
Are you experiencing any friction in your life right now? Is there a command that God wants you to obey that is rubbing you the wrong way or making you uncomfortable?
God wants to develop our character….He wants to develop purity…pearls of purity in our lives.
This developing process…this refining process…this purifying process…may not be comfortable… but He wants us to walk in purity in all aspects of our lives so we can be more and more like Him…And He doesn’t just expect us to figure it all out on our own and do it in our own strength!
An oyster producing a beautiful pure pearl is truly an act of God…and we too as Christians cannot form these pearls of purity in our lives apart from God and his strength.
Apart from me [God], you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV
It is important that we embrace the friction that God allows in our lives for the purpose of developing purity in our character, just as an oyster shell encapsulates…surrounds and embraces…the friction caused by the grain of sand.
In my opening paragraphs, I mentioned the cultured pearl necklace that belonged to my mother. The big difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl is that a “natural pearl” is really an act of God in nature whereas a “cultured pearl” is not truly pure in that it has been tampered with.
A cultured pearl develops when it has been purposefully injected by man with a foreign substance in order for the oyster to begin producing a pearl.
Many of us may think that we can become pure or achieve purity in our own strength…in our own efforts. Or we may allow things in this world to tamper or hinder us from allowing God to develop purity in our character and in areas in our lives.
We don’t want to produce pearls in our lives that are cultured…we should desire to develop pure pearls by God working in lives…using the friction to build purity in our character…in our thoughts, actions, and speech.
Are your thoughts, actions, and speech pure? Do they glorify and honor God?
How is your thought life? Do you ever struggle with impure thoughts?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV
What do your actions say about you being a Christian? If you claim to be a Christian are you being an example of Christ or are you compromising in your actions?
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 NASB
How is your speech? Is it encouraging and uplifting or more often negative and critical?
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 NASB
The key to victory in developing pearls of purity in your character such as your thoughts, actions, and speech is first your willingness to allow God to help you and second your discipline to make necessary changes.
God wants you to develop purity in your character and allows the friction so that you will rely on Him and not on yourself and your own strength.
I know friction doesn’t feel good but if we would embrace the friction and rely upon God, he will develop, refine, and purify us in our character and areas in our lives to glorify Him.
He already knows how precious and valuable we are…like that precious and valuable pearl…and He already knows the end result…that we are His masterpiece.
We aren’t perfect and definitely a work in progress for sure…but with His help and strength we can develop these pearls of purity in our lives.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT
As I reflect back, I am not quite sure that my mother knew exactly what a “cultured” pearl meant…but in this case it really doesn’t matter, does it? The beauty of this necklace still reflects the friction that developed these valuable pearls and even beyond that the treasure it is to me that it belonged to my beautiful mother.
1) Are you experiencing any friction in your life right now? Who or what is involved in this friction?
2) Is there a command that God wants you to obey that is rubbing you the wrong way or making you uncomfortable?
3) Can you see how God will allow and use this friction to develop purity in your character and areas of your life?
4) Are your thoughts, actions, and speech pure? Do they glorify and honor God?
5) How can you develop pearls of purity in the impure areas of your life?
1) It is important to embrace the friction in your life and realize that God will use it to develop, refine, and purify your character.
2) Part of embracing the friction is your willingness to rely upon God to help you. He wants you to depend upon Him and His strength…not your own!
3) Discipline yourself so that you can make the necessary changes in your thoughts, actions, and speech.
4) Making these changes is possible when you surround yourself by other Christians and are open to accountability in your life.
5) Read God’s Word to grasp scriptures that speak to your specific areas of struggle.
6) Be encouraged that God has a plan and a purpose…even specifically in your “friction”…and that He will build your character and strengthen you greater than you could on your own.