Monday, March 6, 2017

Hearts and Treasures

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moth and rust destroy, 
and where thieves break in and steal. 
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, 
where neither moth nor rust destroys, 
and where thieves do not break in or steal;  
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19,20

The center of our being, or what the Bible calls our heart, is our mind.  It is what moves us to action and from it flow our feelings and emotions. We are told in Colossians to set our minds on the things above, in Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful and wicked, in Proverbs that the springs of life flow from our hearts, and in Romans, as we looked in the last blog, that we are to renew our mind for transforming power.  

So today, in Matthew 6, we see that what we treasure, what is really important to us, is what we set our heart or our mind upon. If our hearts are set on worldly treasures, we will be consumed with finances and possessions.  We'll spend much of our life working to attain them and the rest of our life protecting and maintaining them.  

For example, the person who dreams of owning a boat...this is not a bad desire, but it can become an all consuming acquisition.  First, you never buy the right boat as your first boat.  You start with a small one and move your way up the boating ladder.  You have to buy trailers to tow them and rent space to store them, unless you build a garage on your home big enough to hold your cars and your boat.  You spend time cleaning it after each use, you have to insure it because people do stupid things and if they do them on your boat, you'll be the fall guy.  And then you use your boat...a lot...because you've spent so much on that boat that you'd better get good use out of it.  I suppose the same could be said about houses and cars, as well.

Now here me, I know plenty of people who own boats and they manage things just fine, but I also know that a boat can become more of a burden than a pleasure, depending on how much of your heart/mind is consumed by this desire.

A personal example - Dave and I love salt water fish.  It started with a small tank that grew and grew  and grew, until it was several hundred gallons.  Salt water tanks aren't overly simple.  There are a lot of things that have to be just right in order for fish to live.  Let me put it this way, we've killed everything under the sea.  At one point, we decided not to let the kids name the fish anymore because it was traumatizing to see Nemo floating cock-eyed in the water, struggling with his last breaths, as the children sobbed. Eventually, the tank required more time than we could give it and we ended the hobby.  It was taking up too much of our time, thoughts and energy so we let it go.

When you set your heart on earthly treasures, then you have to worry about them, as well.  This is why Jesus said to turn your focus to heavenly treasures...ones that won't rust or die on you.  When we die, we won't have a trailer attached to our caboose with our boat on it as we walk through the pearly gates. Neither will we have our fish tank in one hand and a bag of salt in the other.  So what exactly are the treasures that we are to store up in heaven?  I thought we can't take anything with us?

Well, what has eternal value? I'll name three things:

1.  Souls - though only God saves, the time invested in soul saving is an eternal treasure. Jesus commanded us to "...Go therefore and make disciples..." (Matthew 28:19) Pouring into people spiritually has eternal value, because image bearers of God have eternal souls.  Giving your life to enlarge the kingdom of heaven has eternal worth.

2.  Generosity - In Luke 16:9 Jesus said, "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings." Though we can't take our money, we can use our money here on earth to build the kingdom and bless other believers who are needy in this life.  In eternity, this will be remembered.

3.  Good works - I Corinthians 3:12,13 says, "Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work..." For some reason, no one likes to talk about this, but a day is coming when our works will be presented before the Lord and tested. The ones with eternal value - the ones which were done for the glory of our King - will stand the test of fire.  But the selfish good works will be burned up.  If we are storing up treasures in heaven, we must examine our motivation and say, am I serving the Lord to glorify myself, or is my mind set on the Lord and I am serving out of complete devotion to Him?

If we choose to store up treasures in heaven, where our treasure is, there you will find our mind.  A good test is to see what you spend the day thinking about. How much time does the boat, fish tank and finances to acquire your desires take up of your thoughts compared to the things of the Lord?  That number will be the indicator of where your heart is.

Remember, evangelism and discipleship, generosity with the needy and hurting, and plain old good works for the glory of our Savior are all efforts with eternal value.  So how are you going to spend your day?

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