Do you have any goals–any special ambitions you treasure? Is there a particular accomplishment you want to achieve to mark the fact that you’ve lived? If you’re anything like most of us you have certain plans, but even as we work toward accomplishing them, we must consider a basic truth.
“Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33)
It amazes me how so many have been able to suppress or rationalize away something Jesus Himself taught, yet it was not so in the early church. Each of us must prayerfully consider Christ’s specific words–which they took quite literally–but it seems that at the very least, Jesus teaches us to not hoard wealth but use whatever He has allows us to steward to help others–to spend our time storing up treasures in heaven, not here on earth–a feat which is impossible if we don’t really trust God.
Jesus asks us to believe what He says, to trust God so much with everything we have–with our entire destiny in fact–that we are willing to forgo spending our lives establishing a kingdom of our own in favor of working for His. Let’s face it; there is only so much time–only so many hours in each day–and we can only do so much. Either our primary preoccupation will be doing more for ourselves, or more for Him:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)
This is frightening. Even if we are not controlled by greed, our natural self wants to feel secure. We rationalize that the more we have, the less vulnerable we will be, and rather than trusting in God, we begin trusting in riches. And while God does tell us to work to provide for our own needs and the needs of those who depend on us–to even have excess, as a matter of fact, with which to help others in need–we are to trust in God, not wealth, for our security:
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’” (Luke 12:15-21 NIV)
So how does all of this play out in practice? What will our lives look like if we are listening to Christ?
Certainly everyone’s life will look different, but the common denominator each of us will exhibit is a recognition of the fact that our tenancy in these bodies of ours is but for a truly short time–that we really are dying, so to speak, almost from the time we grow up–and that it should be spent serving Christ. He taught us not to place our trust in wealth, so we shouldn’t. He said to use our excess to meet the needs of those who do not have enough, so we should. The energy and vitality of our youth should be spent actively seeking out the things God wants us to do and doing them:
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” (Ecclesiastes 12:1a NIV) “…before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral. Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1b-7 NLT)
And it may not be easy. It will certainly require a conscious decision to choose to trust Christ and what He said–to really trust Him–and forego our natural urge to do our own thing. Most of all, it will involve a life of commitment to Jesus and a genuine love for Him. But it will be worth it in the end.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help us not rationalize away Your words, but take them seriously. Help us work for the treasure that awaits us in heaven, which nothing that happens here on earth can take away–and help us trust You enough to do so! Amen.