The thing about treasures

Treasure Chest

Some treasures in life last; some treasures do not.  In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus encourages us to store up for ourselves those treasures that last rather than those that do not.

According to an Associated Press report from a few years ago, an 82-year-old man in Beijing, China discovered the wisdom of Jesus’ words the hard way.   Mistrustful of banks, he had dug a hole in the ground and deposited his life savings in it.  Five years later, amidst a devastating financial loss, he dug up the money only to find, to his dismay, that most of the money was moldy beyond recognition.  He was able to salvage only a third of his savings.

In contrast, a story is told of a tax auditor who came to the home of a poor man to assess what the man would have to pay in taxes.

“What property do you possess?” asked the auditor.

“I am quite wealthy,” the man replied.

“List your possessions, please,” the auditor instructed.

The man answered, “I have everlasting life (John 3:16). I also have a mansion in heaven waiting for me (John 14:2).  I have a peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).  I have songs in the night (Psalm 42:8).  I have a crown of life (James 1:12).  I have the certainty that I am forgiven (1 John 1:9).  I have a Savior who supplies all my needs (Philippians 4:19), who causes all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28), who has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  I have the company of One who will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8).  Indeed, He will walk with me even through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).”

The auditor closed his book and said, “Truly you are a very rich man, but such property is not subject to taxation.”

Jesus goes on to warn us, “No one can serve two masters.  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 both God and Money.”

It seems to me that a part of what Jesus is getting at here is that some treasures fill our souls in good ways, but other treasures deplete our souls.

In the book Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom shares lessons he learned from Morrie Schwartz as Morrie was dying from ALS.  One day Morrie shared with Mitch, “We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country…. Do you know how they brainwash people?  They repeat something over and over.  And that’s what we do in this country.  Owning things is good.  More money is good. More property is good.  More commercialism is good.  More is good.  More is good.  We repeat it—and have it repeated to us—over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise.  The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.

“Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new.  Gobble up a new car.  Gobble up a new piece of property.  Gobble up the latest toy.  And then they wanted to tell you about it.  ‘Guess what I got?  Guess what I got?’

“You know how I always interpreted that?  These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes.  They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back.  But it never works.  You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.” (pp. 124-125)

Pope Francis adds, “Corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusion that money is a form of power.”

Some treasures deplete our souls.  Other treasures fill them.

Henry Drummond suggests, “You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”

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