Sunday, January 20, 2008

Where is Your Treasure?

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20"But store up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21; NASB)

If I could point out one sin that is most pervasive in our society today-and has unfortunately invaded the church as well – I would say materialism would either take top place or at least come dangerously close to the top. Of course, this is not to say that there are not other sins that have become extremely problematic, because there are. And I could make a list of many that are in the forefront and devastating to our society and unfortunately the church as well. But remember, that it is often the love of material wealth that is at the center of instigating the rise of many others sins. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil”.

A Discipleship Journal survey ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to readers, and materialism ranked number one (Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92).

It is the love of money that causes man to set his priorities based on what yields the most opportunity for profit. It causes men to lust after wealth to the point that they are willing to lie, cheat and steal to gain more. Or let’s even take abortion for example. Some often view a pregnancy as an inhibition to furthering a career to pursue wealth, or simply view a child as too costly and opt to kill their unborn baby. This to me is heinous and not much different than what the children of Israel did when they offered their children in sacrifice in false worship of Molech (Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10). Think about it-the pursuit of wealth and furthering career growth becomes the focus of their worship to the point that they are sacrificing their child to their “god” of money or worldly pursuit. If that does not touch the apex of selfishness, I don’t know what does!

Jesus is exhorting His hearers to store up treasures in Heaven, rather than on earth. Treasure on earth is temporal. It is subject to decay and deterioration. Men seek to steal others wealth. These are the things that matter the least, and unfortunately, man places them at center stage. I am sure many can recall the saying “whoever dies with the most toys wins”. But that is absolutely and blatantly false. No one truly wins. And as King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes came to realize, all of the earthly treasures and pleasures cannot provide lasting satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). You can’t take any of it with you when you go. It was once said by Billy Graham that he never saw a U-Haul towed behind a hearse. How true!

But where our treasure lies is where our focus in life is going to be. The word treasure comes from the Greek “thesaurus”, and refers to things laid in store as in a treasury, a collection of treasured valuables. The word heart (Gr. Kardia) refers to the central core of spiritual life, the very soul from where our thoughts, passions, affections and desires emanate. It includes our intellectual faculty, our will and character. And it is affected either for good or for bad, controlling our affections, emotions, passions and appetites. If our heart is focused on earthly wealth, then that is where we are going to focus our attention. We will spend most of our time pursuing possessions and earthly gain, and spiritual matters will be of little or no concern.

The sad reality is that many, even in the church have become too focused on temporal wealth and pleasures. Scripture teaches us that all of the things of this world will ultimately be destroyed, and admonishes us to live exemplary lives in light of this fact (2 Peter 3:10-13). We are to be holy in our conduct, and passionate in our pursuit of godliness. The Bible also tells us that there is coming a day when believers will be judged for the things that relate to activities concerning our eternal reward (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). The material things of this life are meaningless in light of eternity.

It is for this reason that Jesus exhorts us to store up treasures in heaven, things of eternal significance. A place where they are secure, cannot be taken by others or deteriorate over time. If our hearts are heaven bound, then we will pursue with great passion those things that bear the most eternal significance, and we will seek to keep our lives focused upon God and the furtherance of His kingdom.

In evaluating our attitude concerning material wealth, there are some important questions that can reveal where our heart is really focused. When we consider life goals, how many revolve around God and His work? What things are the object of our affections? How do we spend our time and efforts? What do we spend our resources on? Answers to these questions should help in evaluating where our focus in life really is.

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