What do we treasure? Do we store up treasures in heaven, or here on earth? Stephanie takes a fresh look at the famous “treasure” passage from Matthew chapter 6.
Treasures In God’s Kingdom
Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV) says,
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
This is a passage that bears careful consideration. Those of us who live in what are known as first world countries may deal with these verses in a number of ways:
We may think they apply to someone else, someone more affluent, someone with more material possessions.
We may think it’s okay to have worldly treasure as long as it doesn’t “have us,” as long as we’re not too attached to our stuff.
Or . . .
We may, for the most part, ignore these words.
Accumulation Of Stuff
As I look around at the accumulation of stuff in my home, I realize just how little of it I truly need. There is so much I wouldn’t even miss if it was gone. In fact, if someone else took it away, I might not even notice—except that things would be much tidier.
The 21st phenomenon of living in a truly tiny home has piqued my interest. In fact, it’s something I would seriously consider once our youngest has left home. It would mean radical downsizing and I’d be fine with that.
And what about my kids? What did I teach them by showering them with gifts they didn’t really need? Sure it was an expression of love and sure they received the gifts as such. But did I teach them to put too much stock in their possessions? I know they all accumulated quite a number of things they rarely used—or used only for a short time.
Deciding What “Treasures” Are Necessary
The thing is . . . this passage doesn’t lay out the exact parameters of what it means to have treasures on Earth. Shelter is necessary—especially when you live in an area of extreme climate change. Plus, who’s to say how big a home is too big? Taking public transportation isn’t always possible. And just how expensive a car is too expensive? The same can be asked of clothing, footwear, food, etc.
But just because this passage doesn’t give us these specifics (the appropriate square footage of our house, the acceptable dollar value of our car, a reasonable annual budget for clothing and miscellaneous expenses, etc.), like so many other passages teach, I think we must take a good hard look at our own hearts.
What Captivates Your Attention?
You see, this passage refers to our eye as the lamp of our body. What do we focus on? What captivates our attention?
What does this have to do with our heart? Well, what we choose to focus on is a good indication of what truly motivates us. Do we spend a lot of time thinking about our possessions and working so we can pay for even more stuff? Do we find ourselves worrying about keeping our things safe and secure? If we’re honest, do we spend the majority of our time thinking about our possessions?
Even someone who has very little can be preoccupied with their belongings. And someone with great material wealth can use their affluence to bless many, many lives.
But the fact that the latter is true doesn’t get us off the hook. We must prayerfully consider this passage of scripture and others like it and ask God to purify our motives and give us wisdom.
Honouring God And Blessing Others
Maybe a good place to start before purchasing anything new would be to ask ourselves, “How can I use this item to honour God and bless others?” If we cannot come up with an immediate answer, we may want to reconsider the purchase. This would also be a wonderful habit to begin practicing with our children when considering a family purchase.
Just a note of caution, it is up to God to change one’s heart and motives. We ought not guilt our children into spending their money in a specific way. This will only make them resentful of us—and possibly, of God as well.
And if we deliberately spend time seeking to store up treasure in heaven by meditating on God’s Word, praying, fellowshipping with other believers, asking for wisdom and direction in all our decisions, and seeking to make Him known He will guide our steps. He will show us how to keep our focus where it should be. And if we do these things as a family, the results will be amazing.
Today, let’s focus on the Lord and furthering His kingdom rather than our own.
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Images courtesy of:
Treasure – Brandel Filho
Eye – Christina P-R