Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Since I’ve lost some weight this year I have had to buy new jeans. I cringe when I pay $55 for a pair of Cinch jeans (my favorite brand) but they fit better now than the Wranglers ($24.99) I used to order from Amazon. But I guess I could have bought this pair – vintage Levi’s (38 waist) from the 1960’s for a mere $3,000. Yes, that’s right. Click on the link and see for yourself.

Someone will buy those jeans. Or maybe they will wait until they go on sale for $2,499. But someone will buy them and, when they do, they will have their reasons.

I’m not much into fancy clothes but I am seriously into really nice motorcycles. I like to say I own them but the truth is that they own me. They make big claims on my time, my income, and my mental real estate. Maybe too much. And sure, I can offer all sorts of justification for why I need the motorcycles I have, just as we all justify whatever we do, or buy, or give, or save, or hoard. Yet no amount of our justification tells the whole truth.

The whole truth is that we have far more of ourselves – our identity, our sense of self, our sense of success or failure, our concern for what others think of us – wrapped up in our earthly treasures than we realize. We have all swallowed a pretty good dose of selfishness and self-centeredness. We are most blind to this the more we pride ourselves on being “self-made” people.

No one is self-made. Any object observer following the course of our lives would see the chance encounters, the economic class of family connections, the social class of our skin color, the glass ceiling hovering, depending on our gender, above or below us. The mentors who took time for us. The social forces that shifted markets at just the right time to our benefit. The list goes on and on. Humility finally lands as close as possible to “I have been blessed.”

What Jesus knows is that the measure of our blessedness is not measured by square footage, account balances, the contents of closets or garages or beach houses, or zip codes. We are blessed because God is love, because God created us, and because God will never let us go. Even when we reach that inevitable personal conclusion that our time on earth is done – a conclusion over which we have no control unless we take tragic measures into our own hands.

Jesus gives us one life and he doesn’t want to see us wasting it chasing idols that can’t deliver what they promise and serve only to deprive others along the way. The only lasting treasure is the love of God and we already have that in Jesus.

Years ago we used checkbook registers and the cliche for every stewardship sermon was to invite people to look at the past month, to look and see where they put their treasure. Because that is probably also where they put their heart. At least that is how Jesus says it works – where our treasure is, our heart will follow – not the other way around. It is EASY for us to say that we really put our hearts into something. Who can question that? But it is HARD to lead with our treasure…unless we’re spending it on something that our heart desires. If we lead with our hearts then we will never have enough treasure. The world doesn’t have enough treasure. We always want more. Our hearts are greedy, aren’t they?

So we are to lead with our treasure, trusting that our hearts will follow. Which then brings us back to the beginning. What do we treasure? Where are our hearts?

Let us pray: Lord, we sometimes feel possessed by our possessions. There is never enough of anything, especially time and money. But that isn’t true. We do have enough. More than enough. Plenty to share. Help us keep straight the order of treasure and heart in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Matthew 6:19-21”

  1. William Decker Says:

    When I read you devotion about treasures, the 23rd Psalm came to mind. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

  2. David Armstrong Says:

    As usual you have gone from preaching to meddling but that’s OK. We need to be meddled with some times…

  3. Carolee Groux Says:

    Whether we collect antiques, classic cars, fashionable clothes (like designer jeans), vacation homes, we can go to the extreme and adore our accumulated possessions (treasures) over Jesus. We must guard our hearts and minds against worshipping material things and making them our idols. Rather give our hearts to Jesus and store up our treasure in heaven.

    Deuteronomy 8:19 says:
    “And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”

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