“Do you love me more than these?”

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What is it that you value, that helps you to feel safe and secure in this world?  We all have ‘treasure’ that we are tempted to hang onto.  When I asked our Bible study group about childhood treasures, Chris spoke about having a tattered old blanket that her mother threw away. It was worthless to most everyone except to Chris. For her it was a treasure!  Tony told us about driving past the home of a woman who died a couple of months ago. There in the front yard was an industrial sized dumpster. Things of her life were now being discarded, useless to others.

I remembered a hero to me, a young man named Jim Elliott, who took up the call to missions work in Ecuador after graduating from college in 1952.  Three years later, he was killed by the very people he was trying to reach with the Gospel. He lived out a phrase recorded in his journal – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”

Jesus’ words about our ‘treasures’ are not difficult to understand, but actually adopting them as our guiding wisdom is truly a challenge, particularly in a culture like ours.  He said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21, NLT)  Shaping life around a house, collectibles, investments, or other material things will lead to inevitable disappointment because they will, eventually, decay, corrode, or get taken from us. What then?

Loving things will, beyond question, cause us to lead to a lesser life.

Let’s not read His words to us and run to the extremes. Jesus does not forbid the ownership of things, the use of money, or the accumulation of financial reserves. The whole of the Bible’s wisdom includes many passages that praise good management, diligent efforts in business, and savings that are there for times of need. Jesus asks us this – Do we own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Do you use what you have to live or do you love what you have gained, making your things into idol gods that give life its purpose and meaning?

The more we have, the more critical it is for us to invite the Spirit to reveal to us our attitude about our cars, homes, and bank accounts. Jesus spoke of the ‘deceitfulness of wealth!’  Subtly our trust can shift from God, our Father, to the Bank, our security!  A man once came to Jesus to inquire about becoming his disciple and finding eternal life. He was very moral, claiming to have observed the Commandments scrupulously. Jesus did not question the truthfulness of that claim, but knowing his heart, he challenged that rich young man to go and sell everything he owned. Then he said, “come, follow me.”  His response? “But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19:22, NLT) His true treasure was revealed in that last line – he would not let go of what he loved most – his wealth!

Would you answer the Spirit’s call to lead a volunteer ministry or would you tell yourself, “I have too much work to do, a living to make” and excuse yourself from serving?

If the Lord asked you to take a lesser place, would you reduce your standard of living without complaint, or would you insist on keeping your current income to maintain your store of treasure?

As you plan for life, which question is in the forefront of your thinking –

  • What does the Lord want of me? Or,
  • What will provide more financial security, pleasure, and/or independence for me?

In the same sermon, Jesus warned we cannot ‘serve two masters.’  We cannot love Mammon (stuff, money) and God, at the same time.

In a post-Resurrection conversation on a beach at the lake in Galilee, Jesus asked Peter, who had gone back to fishing; back to what he knew, back to a ‘treasure’ he could hold in his hands– a hard question. Jesus pointed to the fishing boats, the familiar life of Capernaum and asked him- “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15, NLT)  Peter realized that his treasure was misplaced and he left it all behind for the sake of the Gospel!

Here’s a word from the Word to ponder today. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10, NLT)

_____________

Be Thou My Vision

(worship at this link)

Be Thou my vision
O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought
By day or by night
Waking or sleeping
Thy presence my light

 Riches I heed not
Nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance
Now and always
Thou and Thou only
Be first in my heart
High King of heaven
My treasure Thou art

 High King of heaven
When vict’ry is won
May I reach heaven’s joys
O bright heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart
Whatever befall
Still be my vision
O Ruler of all

 Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne
© Words: Public Domain

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