It seems Jesus has a new job for us--Stockpiling treasures in heaven.



"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.

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

                                                                        Matthew 6:19-21  NKJV


                                The Freedom of Simplicity

I feel uneasy and my level of discomfort goes up a few notches when
I read what Jesus said about money. He made it sound so simple:
Just have faith, and God will take care of you! I want to add a multitude
of "buts" to Jesus' words.

I'm more comfortable with the apostle Paul who said, "If anyone will not
work, neither shall he eat." Right on, Saint Paul--if there's one instruction
in the Bible which we Pennsylvania Dutch believe in, it's that one!
When Jesus minimized our idea of saving up for the future so we don't
have to depend upon others, it makes us bristle. Money does not grow
on trees. If all the world were paupers, who would pay for all the free
lunches? So Jesus, you can come here and talk about anything else,
but please don't tell us where to put our money!!!

Now for those of you who live somewhere else--Jesus has a new
commandment: Don't hoard. Jesus thinks you should spend more
time and energy, sweat and tears, storing up treasures in heaven than
you do trying to accumulate things on earth.

Jesus made a valid argument. Bugs attack our possessions. Rust eats
away at what we have. And if that's not enough, thieves and hackers
are everywhere waiting for a chance to pounce. On the other hand, his
argument went, there are no pests nor decay nor thieves in heaven.
Therefore heaven is a much better place to store treasures. And here's
the kicker - your heart will be where your treasure is.

Jesus frequently returned to the subject of money because he didn't
want us to waste our days striving for something which was secondary
to our primary task of living the life of a disciple in God's kingdom. His
instruction is clear. Since your heart is where your treasure is, then put
your heart and your treasure in heaven, under God's care and keeping.

Although I personally do not spend much time thinking about heaven,
Jesus did. He spoke repeatedly about the kingdom of heaven and invited
us to live here and now within the reign of God.  But in this verse Jesus 
seems to be using the term "heaven" the same way many people use it,
as God's beautiful and indestructible home.

So now Jesus has thrown me two curves and I must readjust my
thinking. I need to be open to Jesus' words about what I do with
"my" money, and secondly I can't be storing treasure in a place I never
think about! I will need to at least acknowledge that life is a journey.
I am going somewhere. So if heaven is my goal, then it is important
for me to give thought to it and prepare for going there. Earth is just a
temporary situation where we are groomed for the real thing, heaven.

Jesus warned against setting our hearts on tangible things. One way
to break the tyranny of our possessions is to change the question.
Not, "What are my treasures?" But rather, "Who are my treasures?"
People are our greatest treasures. We are reminded of this constantly
on the evening news when we see people amid the rubble clutching
their loved ones. We respond with emotion as we watch strangers
come together and help each other through amazing acts of kindness
and courage. We are inspired by those who extend the corners of
their tent to include others who need what they can share.

Once we know what is really important, than it is only a small step
to understanding Jesus' words about stockpiling treasures in heaven.
Jesus told us to do it, so it must be something we can do here in
this life which will have eternal consequences and value. Each of us
in our own individual way, can store up treasures in heaven. But first
we much change the way we think. Are you satisfied with accumulating
possessions? Or do you want something more? Jesus is holding out
the imperative. It's not the tangibles. If you want to live, go for the
intangibles.

Our hearts will be with our treasures, so will our minds. Jesus
proclaimed liberty. Possessions hold us back; they possess us,
not the other way around. Like one who walks without the burden
of baggage, so is the freedom of those who store their treasures
in heaven.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: What is your most prized possession which you are wearing
                   or have with you at the moment?

 

The value of earthly treasures could diminish tomorrow, the next storm
might carry your possessions away or when you die your beneficiaries
may not appreciate what you leave them.
            Do these possibilities effect how you spend your time and money?
            What percent of your waking hours is spent on purchasing,
                        maintaining and guarding your possessions?
            Did you ever look over your stuff and decide you have enough?
                        Or do you always need a little more?


What changes would you need to make if you were going to listen
            to Jesus' words about storing your treasures in heaven
            instead of here on earth?
Would it make any difference if you consciously thought about 
            heaven as the final destination of your life?
Did your money and possessions ever steal your heart away from God?

 

The logical question is, How do we store treasures in heaven?
            What exactly did Jesus mean?
            Give some examples of what we can do to store treasure in heaven.
            Jesus used the word "treasures", not "money".
                        Is there any significance to that?
To what extent would your family be supportive if you decided to spend
                        less time on earthly possessions and more time
                        "storing treasures in heaven"?


You may have enough saved up to last until the end of your days here on
earth, but do you have an adequate savings plan for heaven?
            What does the entry page of your heavenly bankbook look like?

 

John Wesley taught the early Methodists to gain all they could, save all
they could (meaning don't waste it through needless spending), and give
all they could (lest money find its way into their hearts). In that way they
would grow in grace and lay up treasures in heaven. Wesley refused to
accumulate wealth; he put his faith in God and stored his treasure in heaven.
            Do you think John Wesley is a good role model for us?
                        Why or why not?


Finish this sentence: You don't have to be rich or brilliant or extraordinary
in order to store up treasures in heaven, you just need . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

What does it mean to love someone for Jesus' sake?
            Or to befriend a person in Jesus name?

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