March 23

“Treasures on earth . . .”

Scripture:   Matthew 6: 19-24

 19 “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 moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 24 “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.

Reader: This is the word of the Lord.   Response: Thanks be to God.

Some thoughts:
As we focus in on Jesus’ life as the weight of the cross draws nearer, we see more and more clearly how single-minded and centrally focused he was. Notice the relationship among these three short sections. Notice we start with earthly concerns and contrast those with a heavenly perspective. What you value is revealed in your heart. The middle section addresses what pulls at the heart; that is, what you see. How often have we said when we see something, “I want that!” So Jesus warns us of our eyes magnetic effect on our heart. The final paragraph of this trilogy is simply, “This is not an either or, make up your mind! You can’t have both.” Jesus’ earlier words, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” was lived out in his own words “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  He had no home. When he was killed, he had nothing other than the clothes he was stripped of. When he died, he had nothing. All disciples had deserted him. Jesus clearly did not store up treasure on earth. What treasure he stored in heaven, however, is glorious beyond our imagination. He asks us to do the same. Do not let your eyes mesmerize your heart to earthly stuff. A legitimate question to ask is “How much of my life (my time, energy, thought, money) is going into things or pursuits that are of little eternal consequence?” If we measure “treasure” only in terms of money, we see how quickly it can fade. Ask those who invested with Bernie Madoff! Remember him? Do you see in Jesus’ words, the point is not earthly treasures, but the affections of the heart?  The quality of the treasure is indicative of the quality of the heart. The character of the heart is central, not the treasure. It is for that heart’s affection that Jesus went to the cross. Where is your heart’s affection today?  That is the treasure you are accumulating. I take you back to the very first thing you saw as you began these Lenten devotionals, a quote from who else but C.S. Lewis. Lewis warns us, “Do not to live these days for things in our life that will end when you do.”  ‘nough said.

Music: “A City Called Heaven”    Jubilant Sykes   The full song.  This is a clip of the same song, shorter version, from the movie, Freedom. It is hard to believe that human beings were treated this way by other humans. As I watched and listened and as reprehensible as the film depicted human slavery,  I couldn’t help but think, the slaves on the ship were also a picture of our world today, where countless millions are every bit as enslaved to the things of this world, unlike in the film through their own choosing, in as vicious a manner as depicted in the film.

Prayer:  May God support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.
–John Henry Newman 1801-1890