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 (New King James Version, Matt. 6:19-21)
Sure, that’s easy for Christ to say.
Does that mean no savings account? Does that mean no Costco card? Does that mean no school clothes for the kids, no vacation plans for the summer? What does Jesus mean when He tells us not to collect “treasures on earth”? Why does He need to throw in that whole bit about rust and moths and thieves? Everybody knows that things go bad, and things go missing, but we need those things, and if we take care of our things–clean them and lock them up–what’s the harm?
I have a hard time with food. Always have. Television and movies are a retreat for me, as well. And, as always, I love words. My mind is full of them, all the time: thoughts, plans, songs, stories, memories. All of these things crowd God out. These things, in and of themselves, are not particularly heinous things. Food is necessary for life. Television? Not so much. Movies, especially on a big screen, can be an all-encompassing audio/visual experience, but what is washing into my mind in a tsunami of sight and sound? And words . . . ah, words, I have an endless passion for them. Where can God be worshipped among all these other altars?
Who’s Your Daddy?
Each morning, when I come to the quiet place and time set aside for God, I must first sit, silent and still, for varying lengths of time. I focus all my thoughts upon Him, His goodness, His judgments, His unending love. I think of the life and sacrifice of Jesus and how He stepped out of eternity to be among us, to be one of us, knowing we would reject Him in our sin, yet be saved by His Grace. When I do this, there will come a distinct moment when I will feel my heart turn. I will literally feel the presence of God, suddenly, although I know He has been with me, all along. Every morning, I must consciously, actively, make God the center of my longing. I must ardently declare Him to be my treasure. Even though His throne is eternal and mighty, He gives me the choice, every day, to place Him upon it, in my heart and in my mind. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I refuse, but I do this to my own peril, for it is His arbitrary will and depthless mercy which spare my life from one moment to the next. Yet, His love is so great, He will suffer my ignorance, sloth, or disobedience in a way I cannot possibly understand.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out (Rom. 11:33)!
Setting my mind and heart on other things are like little prayers offered up to pagan altars I have built in the temple of the Lord. Inappropriately gratifying my physical and emotional desires, setting my eyes upon unclean things, allowing unholy words to pass my lips, giving license to impure and selfish thoughts, are ways that I worship other, transient gods in the house of I AM.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Greedy Little Gods
Every prayer offered to idols tumbles into a gaping, bottomless pit that can never be satisfied, so we give it more and more until we are enslaved in its darkness. Like a heroin addict, we come to give it everything, no longer for the high, but only to maintain something like a normal. The gods of passing pleasures are cruel when they are hungry, and they are always hungry. Like rust eats iron and moth larvae consume fine fabrics, the strength and beauty of moral courage are compromised, broken down, and destroyed, leaving an open path for the thief to come and plunder the soul.
Yet, as quickly as these shabby, little altars go up, they come right back down, again, every time I pray to God, every time I place Him on the throne of His temple. Each time I declare Him to be Lord of my mind and heart, I receive strength, courage, forgiveness, wisdom, and the treasure of His great and unchanging love. Whether I acknowledge Him or not, whether I feel His presence or not, He is here.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Josh. 1:5, 9).
Homes and clothes and vacation plans will come and go. I don’t look to a job to save me. Children grow up and leave. A Dairy Queen Blizzard didn’t die for my sins. Placing my trust in the treasures of God isn’t just money in the bank, but the foundation of Christ’s call to faith.