Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where's Your Treasure?

Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). I’ve heard a lot of pastors and teachers say, “So guard your heart.” While guarding our heart from materialism, vanity, and avarice is a good thing and is commanded elsewhere, this passage doesn’t urge us to guard our hearts.

The sentence is split in two parts, much like an if/then statement. If Jesus was telling us to guard our hearts from greed, He’d have said “For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” But He didn’t. Jesus started with our treasure. Why is this? Before we can answer that, we have to find out what that “For” is there for.

The preceding two verses quote Jesus as saying, “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.”

Jesus isn’t telling us what to do with our hearts. He’s telling us what to do with our treasure. I’m a lot more comfortable talking about guarding hearts from greed because that’s not something you can easily check on. I may be poor. I may be rich. But you can’t tell the condition of my heart just by looking at my bank account. But you can tell the condition of my treasure by where I’m storing it. That is, you can tell where I’m spending my money.

In these verses Jesus is telling me to invest in God’s Kingdom. That means more than just money, but it doesn’t mean less than that. That means giving of my time, my efforts, and my money. It means reaching people around me, practicing hospitality, and giving generously to my local church and other needs both within and without the household of faith.

That’s not easy to do. If you’re like me, you’d rather work on your heart first and then see how it affects your wallet. But Jesus begins with just the opposite. Don’t store up treasure on earth. Store up treasure in heaven. Apart from describing the durability of such treasures, he gives us the primary reason in verse 21:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

By relating my treasure to God’s Kingdom, I relocate my heart there too. By giving of my time and money to my local church, I begin to develop a love for it and a desire to do so. By spending my time and money on hospitality, I begin to develop a love for my neighbors and a desire to know them. In this case, Jesus is telling us that our outward behavior can change our inner desires.

If you are concerned about your commitment to the Kingdom, try giving more of yourself to it. Read a book about it later.

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