choosing

What’s In Your Treasure Chest

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

Matthew 6:21 ESV

Treasure. While the word may carry different connotations for different individuals, it generally signifies objects that hold considerable significance in our lives. President John F. Kennedy said: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” Treasure hunters around the world often seek buried or lost gold. Some people seek fame and fortune as though it were buried treasure. There is a sense in which we can all be considered treasure hunters, always on the lookout for something precious.

What we focus on shapes the way we behave. When our attention is fixated on achieving material success and accumulating wealth, our energy becomes consumed by earthly concerns. However, when we focus on God’s priorities, our actions will reflect different priorities.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has a lot to say about treasures:

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.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.

Matthew 6: 19-24 ESV

I love how, in the very next verse, Jesus connects these verses about focusing on the importance of the heavenly, with a practical observation of the effects of focusing on the material—worry, strife, and anxiety.

Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6: 25 ESV

Jesus plainly says we can’t serve God and money. It’s an either/or imperative. You either serve and love God or you serve and love your treasure. We can’t do both.

Does this mean we are to adopt a monastic theology where we renounce all worldly pursuits in order to devote ourselves entirely to spiritual work? Does having little or nothing cause you to lean into God for all your worldly provisions? Or does this result in us only trusting in God until we get our next meal? Can we, as Paul said, “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer, and contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality?” (Romans 12: 12-13)

Is there a middle ground where we have just enough, but not too much? Are we able to be content in such a place, or are we constantly seeking more for ourselves without sharing the blessings we have received?

Can we have great material abundance without abandoning God? Do we recognize God as the source and owner of all we have, or are we taking the credit that rightfully belongs to Him?

No matter where we fall in this continuum, if we experience worry, strife, and anxiety, it may be a sign that we are focused on the worldly instead of the heavenly.

Scripture reveals that Jesus did not discriminate when it came to his followers, embracing those with wealth and those with nothing. Matthew himself was a wealthy tax-collector and his wealth was obtained by stealing from his own people, through a tax system that allowed him to shake down the Jewish people for his own benefit. But Jesus did not look at his sin, or his wealth, when he called Matthew to be one of his disciples. He looked at Matthew’s heart and saw something that Matthew’s compatriots didn’t.

Likewise, Gideon was the youngest of a poor family suffering under the persecution of the Midianites. God called him to deliver Israel from their oppression.

All this begs the question: If Jesus were to weigh your heart, would it lean towards Him or something else precious in your sight?

scales and bible

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6: 33

In our affluent society, we often seek to find a balance between serving God and seeking the treasures of this world. Time and time again, it seems that the scale tips towards worldly things more often than towards heavenly things or even towards a balance. Matthew tells us not to even try to seek a balance. Instead, he reminds us that if we focus on the heavenly things, the imperishable things, God will add whatever we need to the other side of the scale.

The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at our hearts

1 Sam 16:7

God does not look at our lack, or our abundance. He is focused on our hearts.

I’m reminded of the words of Neil T Anderson in his book Bondage Breaker. Imagine that you just waked through the door of life, and ahead of you is a narrow street lined on both sides with two-story apartments. At the far end of the street – which gets broader and broader – stands Jesus, saying, “Come to Me1…from the windows of these apartments there are people yelling at you, enticing you with offers of wealth, fame, and pleasure. There is nothing on the street to prevent you from reaching Jesus. But along the way there are many temptations.

When the apple is dangled in front of you what will you choose?

  1. Bondage Breaker, Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, Habitual Sins. Neil T. Anderson Pg 126 2000/2019 Harvest House Publishers ↩︎