Summary: Jesus tells us our heart follows our treasure ... so what is your treasure? Why is it important that we treasure the right things in life?
Treasure Map! - Matthew 6:19-21 - March 11, 2012
Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #21
Possessions weigh me down in life;
I never feel quite free.
I wonder if I own my things,
Or if my things own me?
Now I don’t know who wrote those lines, but I think I understand the heart from which they were written – and maybe you do to! Truth is our lives are filled with an abundance of things – things big, things small and things in between. But those “things” we so enjoy come at a price, don’t they? In 2011 research showed that the debt-to-income ratio of the average Canadian family was 150%. And I want you to stop for a moment and consider what that means for you and me in practical terms. … What that means is that for every $1000.00 in after tax income that the average Canadian family earns, it owes $1500.00. (http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20110217/family-debt-110217/) That’s staggering and it means that many of us are not getting further ahead, but are in fact, falling further behind than ever before.
But the cost of our things is not just measured in dollar amounts. There is a hidden cost to the things we own as well. And that cost is measured in our attachment to, and our responsibility in, those things that we own. And that hidden cost means that at times, times like that unknown poet mentioned, that it feels like our possessions really possess us rather than the other way around. If, for example, you own your own house it demands your time, energy and resources, doesn’t it? Now don’t misunderstand me here – there’s nothing wrong with owning your own home – but a home can become a black hole which our time, energy and resources are poured into, never to be seen again. That which should be a blessing can become a consuming burden as you find yourself renovating, painting, shoveling snow in the winter, cutting the grass in the spring, and tending the garden in the summer, bringing in the harvest in the fall, replacing that which has broken down, and all the other things that usually come along with home ownership. Now you might take joy in these things, you might find great satisfaction in them even, but there is still the sense in which your time, your monies, and energy, are no longer wholly your own – the house – your possession – has a claim on it.
I suspect that if we took a moment to reflect on those things that lay claim to our time, our energy and our finances, we would discover to one degree or another, that our possessions do, in fact, possess us. And I imagine that the farmer in the parable that ______________ read for us a few moments ago had that truth brought home to him in a very real way when God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:15-21)
Here is a man who was a hard worker. We might even envy his work ethic and his success. We do it all the time in our society. We admire those who work diligently and find themselves getting ahead in life. Those, who, out of the abundance they have received, are able to surround themselves with the good things of life. That was this farmer. Scripture says he was already a rich man when his crops yielded yet another abundant harvest. Things were so good he was going to level his granaries and build even bigger ones to store, what he called in his own words, his “surplus grain.” He had far more than he needed and his ultimate goal was to get to the point where he could take life easy - eat, drink and be merry.
That’s the dream of so many people in our day and age, isn’t it? Maybe it’s even your dream! I have a good friend who is living that dream out today. He’s 40 years old and this past January he retired. He and his wife own a 5000 square foot house. The house is absolutely beautiful and the yard is magnificent. They have an outdoor pool the likes of which I have never seen before and the landscaping is amazing. And in a way, I’m happy for them. I don’t resent them their success at all - they’re living the life that so many people can only dream of.
But in my heart I tremble for them, because while they have stored up things for themselves, they are not rich towards God. And when I think upon that I begin to tremble for myself, and my own family, because I can see that there are times when I have stored up things for myself rather than choosing to be rich in the things of God. And then I tremble for our churches today because too often we substitute worldly success for the presence of the living God. We are frequently satisfied with the superficial trappings of religion rather than hungering after the deeper things of faith. We store up our treasures here on earth thinking we are the richer for it, not realizing until it is too late, just how empty those riches really are in the bigger scheme of things.