Author: Joyce Yearsley
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal…….”
The voice on the answering machine sounded ominous: “If you do not call this number immediately, your debit card will automatically be charged $299.99”. It sounded so threatening, that I might have called, if I had not just read about this latest phone scam the day before in the news. Thieves seem to be getting more devious, more clever in their ways of stealing from people. How can we protect ourselves? Account alert systems? Bars on the windows? A really large dog? A “Packin’ Mama” handbag?
Some people believe that if they are just as smart as the “bad guys”, they won’t get “taken” or harmed. But is that really the case? Are we fooling ourselves? Have you ever had your wallet or purse stolen? Or your card number breached? I have (both). Of course, that after saying to myself, “It won’t happen to me.”
And sadly, it isn’t just thieves we have to watch out for. Other things take our hard earned money. My sweet husband recently had total knee replacement. Though we didn’t have to pay most of the bill, it was something over $100,000! Did I mention the new AC/Furnace combo pack we had to get a couple summers ago? Maybe it was a car accident for you. Or college. Or dental work. Or something else.
Friends, the truth is, this fallen world is sort of designed to break us. Our bodies wear out, our homes decay and our money eventually leaves us (or we leave it). What Jesus was saying to the crowds on the mountain that day was similar to the words of the writer of Proverbs (23:4-6): “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.”
Then Jesus continued (Matthew 6:21), “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Why? Why can one not “store up” earthly treasure AND heavenly treasure? Why can a man not have as an earthly goal to get rich so that he will never be in want of anything, yet still also be rich in heavenly treasure? Why can we not serve both “God and mammon”? The key word is “serve”. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a job, making money, providing for your loved ones, etc. In fact, in the New Testament church, those who did NOT work were rebuked and were not allowed to eat of the church’s common provision. But adding the word, “serve” to the text tells us what the problem is for those who want to “store up” money—they are serving it. They are attached to it, rather than using their money like a tool. Jesus said we will love and serve God or we will love and serve money, but we can never do both at the same time. Instead, trust God to care for you and serve His kingdom. In that way, you will “store up treasure in heaven”, where the scammers on the phone do not annoy and steal.