Summary: Sermon 13 in a study in the Sermon on the Mount
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
In the George Eliot classic, Silas Marner, the title character is a miserly recluse who happens to be the only weaver in a small village. His reclusion and bitter demeanor as a result of earlier dark events in his life cause the village people to view Silas with suspicion and even fear. But since he is the only weaver in town they tolerate him and give him their business and the combination of his steady work and hermitic lifestyle make him a wealthy man.
Silas hides his gold in bags under his floor and each evening he takes them out to count his gold pieces, since he sees them as his only companions and the counting of them gives him comfort.
Now of course I cannot relate the entire story here, but Silas’ money is stolen leaving him a broken and despairing man. In his agitated state he develops an almost subconscious habit of going to his door and looking out as though in hopes of seeing someone coming down the road to return his precious gold.
Now Silas has a condition that is unexamined and undiagnosed which even he is not aware of. Now days we call them petite mal seizures. The victim will suddenly go rigid in their standing or sitting position perhaps for minutes, and when they come out of the seizure they are not aware that any time has passed at all.
So one evening when Silas opens his door to look out he is suddenly taken by one of these seizures and in the midst of his trance a small girl whose mother has died somewhere out in the cold finds her way to his door, walks in past him and lies down in front of the fire and goes to sleep.
When Silas comes to again, unaware that even a second has passed, he closes the door. When he turns around he sees what he thinks is his gold reflecting the light of the fire in the hearth. He bends to touch it and finds it is the gold tresses of a little girl’s head.
Silas ends up raising the girl who he names Eppie, at first because he thinks that somehow his gold has turned into the little golden-haired girl and he hopes she will turn back to his gold. As time goes by however he grows to love her as a daughter and raises her as such.
Late in the story, when Eppie has grown to a gracious and beautiful young woman, Silas’ gold is found and returned to him but it means nothing to him anymore compared to the love of his darling Eppie. In fact he comments that by divine plan his gold has been in safekeeping to be returned for her own use at the proper time.
At the end of the story Marner is a redeemed man, loved by the villagers, once again abiding in the faith in God that he had once denounced, and the story concludes with the wedding of Eppie which is attended by the entire village including a contented and fulfilled old Silas Marner.
That is a very briefed-down version of that story, and I recommend it to you if you have never read it. It is not a big book but it’s a great read and young people especially have a great deal to profit in the reading of it.
The reason I give you this ‘Cliff Notes’ version of “Silas Marner” today is because of its similarity in focus to our passage of study.
Eliot’s story has an obvious message, that human relationships and shared love far exceeds in value, and ultimately outlasts, monetary wealth and gain.
Then there is an underlying message, a more pressing one, that our pursuits and priorities in life bring to light the condition of our heart.
WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS
Back up for a moment and glance through chapter 6 of Matthew’s gospel to this point.