Summary: Our tithes and offerings should be a matter of joy... but too often they’re not. Learn the secret of placing your treasure with God.
OPEN: Back in 1905, there was baseball game at Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rhyolites were playing the Beattys and the Beattys were up to bat. The pitcher threw the ball, the batter swung - and the ball rocketed toward 1st base.
The 1st baseman was a man named William Giffiths, and as he saw the ball coming his way, he was amazed to see it ricochet off a small stone and landing in his glove. He beat the runner to first easily.
The little stone had given Griffiths a luck break, but he decided it had no business on the playing field, so he walked over and picked it up. He started to raise his hand to throw it off the field when something caught his eye. He took a careful look at the stone and recognized free gold in it. Then he quietly slipped it into his pocket and went on with the game.
That evening, he returned to the ball park with a lantern and spent an hour scratching around in the soil until had accumulated a bucketful of rocks. By morning he knew that those rocks assayed at more than $900 a ton.
He called in two friends and with them quietly bought the ball park.
The mine was called First Base, and the first shaft entered paying ore at a depth of 33 feet. And Infielder Griffiths soon found himself a very wealthy man. (The Saturday Evening Post July/Aug 2000 H. Allen Smith and Ira L. Smith)
APPLY: That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
In my files I have an anonymous quote:
“Lord, give me the strength to change the things I can,
the grace to accept the things I cannot,
and a great big bag of money.”
Now, I personally have nothing against money… making money, having money, rolling in money. But I do get a little itchy about people who make obtaining wealth - the goal of their lives.
ILLUS: This past week USA Today told of a Pew Research Center poll that asked people what their life goals were. According to this poll 81% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 said that getting rich was their most important (or 2nd most important) goal in life. (Sharon Jayson, USA Today, 1/10/07)
Now, that makes me uncomfortable, because Scripture tells me that “… the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
So making wealth a life goal isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.
But now, here we have Jesus telling us about a man who does make wealth a life-goal. This guy finds a treasure hidden in a field and he goes out and sells all that he has so he can buy that field.
ILLUS: One of my sources tells me that such a find wouldn’t have been unusual in Israel. Palestine was a land bridge between Egypt and the great empires of the north and a result they were often repeatedly invaded. Because of this constant danger of invading armies, and even the activities of common thieves – and because there were no banks - people would bury their treasure in the ground, in walls, in tree trunks, or wherever they could.
But circumstances could make their buried treasures become difficult to find again.
There were occasional earthquakes.
Sometimes the owners of the cache would have to leave home in a hurry and never return.
Or the owners might be captured by invading armies, or die suddenly for any number of reasons. As a result, family treasures could be forgotten or lost for centuries.
A missionary in Syria and Palestine for 30 years by the name of W.M. Thompson told of workmen digging up a garden in Sidon. These workmen found several copper pots of gold, and they did exactly what the man in the parable did – they concealed their find with care. But then, wild with joy, they could not keep their mouths shut. The governor of the city caught them, and recovered 2 of the pots, and it was found that they contained 8000 pure gold coins of Alexander and his father Philip. Thompson said that he saw hundreds of persons all over the country spending their last penny looking for such treasures. Pulpit Helps, 12/92 p. 8
So, my point is this: Amongst the people who gathered to listen to Jesus there were those who knew this was not imaginary story… this had actually happened to someone they knew of. Or it might have even happened to them.
But Jesus’ point was not that they ought to be digging up their back yards looking for treasure.
NOR was His point that they needed to seek wealth as a life goal for their future.