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It seems Jesus has a new job for us--Stockpiling treasures in heaven.
"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."
Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV
The Freedom of Simplicity
I feel uneasy and my level of discomfort goes up a few notches when I read what Jesus said about money. He made it sound so simple: Just have faith, and God will take care of you! I want to add a multitude of "buts" to Jesus' words.
I'm more comfortable with the apostle Paul who said, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." Right on, Saint Paul--if there's one instruction in the Bible which we Pennsylvania Dutch believe in, it's that one! When Jesus minimized our idea of saving up for the future so we don't have to depend upon others, it makes us bristle. Money does not grow on trees. If all the world were paupers, who would pay for all the free lunches? So Jesus, you can come here and talk about anything else, but please don't tell us where to put our money!!!
Now for those of you who live somewhere else--Jesus has a new commandment: Don't hoard. Jesus thinks you should spend more time and energy, sweat and tears, storing up treasures in heaven than you do trying to accumulate things on earth.
Jesus made a valid argument. Bugs attack our possessions. Rust eats away at what we have. And if that's not enough, thieves and hackers are everywhere waiting for a chance to pounce. On the other hand, his argument went, there are no pests nor decay nor thieves in heaven. Therefore heaven is a much better place to store treasures. And here's the kicker - your heart will be where your treasure is.
Jesus frequently returned to the subject of money because he didn't want us to waste our days striving for something which was secondary to our primary task of living the life of a disciple in God's kingdom. His instruction is clear. Since your heart is where your treasure is, then put your heart and your treasure in heaven, under God's care and keeping.
Although I personally do not spend much time thinking about heaven, Jesus did. He spoke repeatedly about the kingdom of heaven and invited us to live here and now within the reign of God. But in this verse Jesus seems to be using the term "heaven" the same way many people use it, as God's beautiful and indestructible home.
So now Jesus has thrown me two curves and I must readjust my thinking. I need to be open to Jesus' words about what I do with "my" money, and secondly I can't be storing treasure in a place I never think about! I will need to at least acknowledge that life is a journey. I am going somewhere. So if heaven is my goal, then it is important for me to give thought to it and prepare for going there. Earth is just a temporary situation where we are groomed for the real thing, heaven.
Jesus warned against setting our hearts on tangible things. One way to break the tyranny of our possessions is to change the question. Not, "What are my treasures?" But rather, "Who are my treasures?" People are our greatest treasures. We are reminded of this constantly on the evening news when we see people amid the rubble clutching their loved ones. We respond with emotion as we watch strangers come together and help each other through amazing acts of kindness and courage. We are inspired by those who extend the corners of their tent to include others who need what they can share.
Once we know what is really important, than it is only a small step to understanding Jesus' words about stockpiling treasures in heaven. Jesus told us to do it, so it must be something we can do here in this life which will have eternal consequences and value. Each of us in our own individual way, can store up treasures in heaven. But first we much change the way we think. Are you satisfied with accumulating possessions? Or do you want something more? Jesus is holding out the imperative. It's not the tangibles. If you want to live, go for the intangibles.
Our hearts will be with our treasures, so will our minds. Jesus proclaimed liberty. Possessions hold us back; they possess us, not the other way around. Like one who walks without the burden of baggage, so is the freedom of those who store their treasures in heaven.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: What is your most prized possession which you are wearing or have with you at the moment?
The value of earthly treasures could diminish tomorrow, the next storm might carry your possessions away or when you die your beneficiaries may not appreciate what you leave them. Do these possibilities effect how you spend your time and money? What percent of your waking hours is spent on purchasing, maintaining and guarding your possessions? Did you ever look over your stuff and decide you have enough? Or do you always need a little more?
What changes would you need to make if you were going to listen to Jesus' words about storing your treasures in heaven instead of here on earth?Would it make any difference if you consciously thought about heaven as the final destination of your life?Did your money and possessions ever steal your heart away from God?
The logical question is, How do we store treasures in heaven? What exactly did Jesus mean? Give some examples of what we can do to store treasure in heaven. Jesus used the word "treasures", not "money". Is there any significance to that?To what extent would your family be supportive if you decided to spend less time on earthly possessions and more time "storing treasures in heaven"?
You may have enough saved up to last until the end of your days here on earth, but do you have an adequate savings plan for heaven? What does the entry page of your heavenly bankbook look like?
John Wesley taught the early Methodists to gain all they could, save all they could (meaning don't waste it through needless spending), and give all they could (lest money find its way into their hearts). In that way they would grow in grace and lay up treasures in heaven. Wesley refused to accumulate wealth; he put his faith in God and stored his treasure in heaven. Do you think John Wesley is a good role model for us? Why or why not?
Finish this sentence: You don't have to be rich or brilliant or extraordinary in order to store up treasures in heaven, you just need . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What does it mean to love someone for Jesus' sake? Or to befriend a person in Jesus name?