Treasures, Thieves and Rust

“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 your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
A group of campaigners sat in a rented van in Georgetown, Guyana while the team leader negotiated with another van for long-distance transport. Finally the word came that arrangements were made and luggage should be transferred to the new vehicle. Meanwhile one member had left the van for a moment, asking others to “watch my bags.” You guessed it -? during the confusion of transferring luggage a thief managed to make off with a bag containing a valuable camera and the return tickets of four team members. Not only was the camera lost, but tickets had to be repurchased at considerable expense. People were not happy!
Perhaps blame for this loss could be assessed to the people in the van who were less than alert, and maybe that would make the owners feel a little better, at least temporarily. But that certainly would not change the circumstance or the consequences of the theft. The fact is, material goods are vulnerable, temporary and, therefore, of limited worth. Some precautions may be taken, but there is no guarantee against loss. Everything on this earth is transitory, except for the immortal human soul.
An exercise we used to do at group sessions is to ask everyone to list the three things they would first try to rescue in the event of a fire, if all living persons and animals were already safe. The most common answers were pictures and heirlooms, valuable because of association with persons, not because of intrinsic worth. Things are of limited value.
In spite of this widely recognized truth, most people spend vast amounts of time and energy in the accumulation, or at least the pursuit, of things. Material wealth, toys, gadgets, clothing, furniture, houses and cars -? we just can’t seem to get enough. Yet our hunger for them is rarely satisfied. We go from one desire to the next, leaving the disappointing acquisitions behind, but seem convinced that the next one will be more satisfying. And on and on it goes.
Jesus offers the solution. He advises that we lay up our treasures in heaven. Obviously, this requires a different definition of treasure. We cannot accumulate gadgets and money there, to be used in the same manner as we would do on earth. Heaven is a spiritual realm, where only incorruptible, immortal possessions may be placed or used. Deposits are made when one does the will of God. “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).
There is some value in protecting our material assets here on earth. But it is far better to invest the majority of our time and energies in eternal possessions. Let us “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and then let him help provide and protect our physical necessities (Matthew 6:34). He promises us just that help.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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