Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 4 August 20:
Luke 12:21, 34 — So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God…. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What a person truly treasures will define how they respond to everything else, to every other person, and to every circumstance. People guard and defend their treasure. They seek their security, joy, and hope from their treasure, and they are motivated by their treasure. They judge everything else based on how it effects their treasure – what threatens treasure is perceived as bad, and what promotes treasure is considered good. A person’s treasure defines his or her heart; and the heart defines the person’s outlook and guides the person’s decisions about everything. A person’s treasure is that person’s ultimate core value, what that person cares about more than anything else. A person’s treasure becomes the foundation of his or her life and sets the course of their life. If you know what a person’s true treasure is, you can predict how they will respond to any situation.
– Luke 12:32 — Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
– Matthew 7:24-27 — “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
– Jonah 2:8 — Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
Jesus warns that if your treasure is anything other than God, you are placing your hope in something which is always in doubt and which will never last; you are building your house on shifting sands, rather than the immovable rock of Jesus. If your treasure is anything other than Jesus, your treasure is an idol — a lifeless, powerless, substitute for God in your life which can never bring you love, joy, peace, contentment, or security. When your treasure is unreliable and fake, so is your love, joy, peace, contentment, and security. You can tell whose treasure is really God and not an idol by how they respond to circumstances around them. If their treasure is in the unsearchable, immovable, riches of Jesus, nothing can shake them, and they radiate a serenity which surpassed human understanding. On the other hand, the person who trusts in what is uncertain becomes a victim to circumstances.
Where is your treasure really? About what (or whom) do you care the most? Do you place your trust and hope in an idol? In our day and age, idols are not usually carved images but rather things God intended for good that we have prioritized over God. Career, family, even ministry can become idols when we make them our true treasures rather than God. When the gifts of God become our gods, we develop unhealthy, destructive relationships with the gifts, with the Giver, and with everything else.
Today when Jesus teaches about foolish treasures, he talks about money and anxiety (or fear), and he concludes with, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The person who trusts and hopes in money (finances) has good reason to have anxiety and fear – all hope can be gone tomorrow. And what does this false hope, instability, and fear do to a person’s ability to love. Of course, money can’t love you back, but beyond that, when money is a person’s treasure, God and other people are seen as either assets or liabilities, partners or competitors, benefactors or threats. So, love is contractual, subjective, and always in doubt. When the economy tanks, God is viewed as unloving or uncaring; when the kids break something valuable, they are treated as criminals; and when charities ask for money, they are viewed as undeserving or unprofitable drains on productivity. Ultimately, since people are generally risk averse and since all riches fade inevitably, God and people will be primarily viewed as threats to a person’s money idol – “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 money.” (Matthew 6:24) When Jesus asks, “Why are you anxious?” He knows the answer. “There is no fear in love.” (1 John 4:18) It takes faith (assurance) which can only be found in Jesus to love, to give, and to forgive with true joy and no fear.
While Jesus uses money today to talk about the foolishness of treasuring and trusting something over God, we must remember that many things can become foolish treasures and idols in our lives, robbing us of the blessings God intended these things to be in our lives. Consider, for example, the “dedicated family man” who makes family his idol: Family becomes his identity, his measure of success, his security, his place for validation, his source of strength, his meaning for life, and his hope. Everything else is judged as good or bad based on its perceived impact on the family. If a person is perceived to be a threat to the family, that person treated poorly. Even God is judged based on what happens to the family. When the family suffers, God’s love and sovereignty is questioned. When the family becomes an idol, the family man turns to them for love that can only come from God (God is love), so the man takes love but has nothing to really give the family – the family suffers. If the family falls apart, the family-centered man’s entire world falls apart, and the family man has no place to turn. On the other hand, the God-centered family man, the man resting on the firm foundation of Jesus, the man connected to the Source of Love and Life as a branch is connected to a vine, offers stability and hope to His family, becomes a source of love to His family, bears fruit in His family, leads them along the path of Light and Life, and experiences the fullness of joy with His family through the inevitable trials of life.
When Jesus is your treasure, you have the right perspective on everything else, you can experience the fullness of joy in life regardless of circumstances, and you can be a light to others.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 August 20: Pray that God will give you a heart that keeps Him your true treasure.