What are you working toward in life–what are your goals? Do you want to save for a house or car, take a vacation, complete your degree so you can get a better job, start up a business, or simply raise your children? Maybe it’s even more basic and you just want to survive–to put food on the table and pay the bills so the utilities don’t get shut off? Even though finances are important, we need to recognize that the things we work for and look forward to should be more multidimensional than the mere material needs and desires of those who don’t know or follow Christ.
“Do not store up for yourselves [material] 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 and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” (MATTHEW 6:19-21 AMP)
We’re human; it’s almost as natural to us as breathing to want things and plan how to get them. It’s about a week before Thanksgiving as I write this, and I’ve already glanced at the Walmart Black Friday flyer. And while it’s not wrong to take advantage of great deals, it becomes wrong when our entire existence revolves around the acquisition of material wealth, however much or little that may be–because, you see, it is the focus of my heart that is at issue, not how much I actually possess.
The disciple John wrote one of the post difficult passages in the entire Bible, in my opinion. It is difficult because it spells out so clearly what someone who loves God looks like–and all too often, that doesn’t look like me (even though I want it to):
“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” (1 JOHN 2:15-17 AMP)
The three things that are not of our Father God are 1) the lust of the flesh (the things our body wants–illicit sex, too much food, addictions, etc.), 2) the lust of the eyes (the things we want to get (the Black Friday flyer, a nicer house, better car–or even more attractive wife or husband, etc.), and 3) the pride of life (anything that puffs out my chest–anything done so others will recognize how important or significant I am–any “I’ll show them!” behavior or desire).
Jesus recognized the grasp these three have on us, and gave a specific command to those who will follow Him–which, of course, is also synonymous with following our Creator God: work for, long for, focus on, employ yourself with eternal treasures. But what does this mean? Do we need to lock ourselves up in a room and do nothing but pray all day Obviously not. But once more–it is the focus of our hearts that is at issue. Jesus again:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].” (MATTHEW 6:24 AMP)
So while God knows we have physical bodies and needs (“The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them.” Matthew 6:32 NCV), He wants us to love Him, not them. Remember that we are to pursue Him, and He’ll provide whatever else we really need:
“But seek first his kingdom [Christ’s righteousness in others] and His righteousness [in us] , and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
So, are you running after things that will be gone some day–things that at your dying breath will have absolutely no value to you? Or are you earning “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal”–are you pursuing His purposes in life, in some way shape or form? Ultimately, is He and what He cares about the real love and preoccupation of your life? May it be!
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me store up for myself “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Amen.