Treasure Troves

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by Michael E. Brooks

“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).

Most people in less developed countries use much less space in which to live than the majority in the United States. Many families of two or three generations occupy tiny homes of one or two rooms. Not only do the people have less room for themselves – there is also very little storage space for possessions.

There are two obvious reasons for this latter fact: space is expensive and hard to obtain and they normally just don’t have many possessions to store. Their houses characteristically lack closets, attics, basements or storage out-buildings.

If those existed they would be mostly empty. Well, that is not correct; more family members would be living in them.

When a family does acquire extra bedding, dishes, clothing or some special keepsake, there are two favorite ways to store them. The first is the metal box.  These vary in size from a normal packing trunk or foot-locker, to a box about the size and shape of a chest style freezer.

These will typically hold blankets, heavy winter clothes, and the like. Since they can be locked securely, and the house may not be secure, they also contain any valuables (jewelry, etc.) which the family may possess.

The other method of storage is the “showcase,” basically the same as our china cabinets or display cases. This is where special dishes, keepsakes and memorial items are not only kept up safely, but put on display for others to see and enjoy. Usually it is only the more prosperous (i.e., middle class and above) families that have these.

Seeing these special places and their contents leads me to ask myself two questions.

First, if I only had that much space in which to secure my possessions, what would I keep in them? That is, if I could only own as much as I could use at one time, or store in a small trunk, what of all that I own would I keep?

What means the very most to me? Could I be happy with only that amount of worldly things?

The second question is, “If I were choosing things to put on display for all the world to see, what would I select?” This reflects upon my pride of ownership, and my sense of self-identity. What would speak to others about me in such a way as to make me comfortable?

Among my possessions there may be things that I would be happy for all to know about, but there may be some which I would just as soon be less well known.

We talk about “not airing our dirty laundry in public.” Not all possessions are material things. Some have to do with our attitudes, habits, actions, and reputations.

We publicly demonstrate our true selves either deliberately or thoughtlessly. But they are out there, plainly seen, telling others who we are.

Jesus suggests that the most valuable possessions we have are those which can be stored eternally in Heaven with God. Though he may have in mind our prayers and offerings (see the story in Acts 10:1-8 about Cornelius), it is likely that he includes much more than that.

Every good deed or kind word which believers do is credited to them and will be rewarded (Matthew 10:40-42).

We should be less concerned with displaying our earthly possessions to men, and more occupied with living righteously before God. It is the spiritual showcase which should contain our treasures.

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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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