29th May 2011

Where Your Treasure Is

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV UK)

An elderly man bought a lottery ticket and gave it to his wife for safekeeping. When the winning numbers were announced, she was the first to know that he had won ten million dollars. But she decided not to tell him immediately since he had a bad heart and she feared he might just drop dead from the shock of winning.

Consequently, she asked her pastor to break the news gently to her husband. When the pastor met with him, he engaged him in small talk for a while and as gently as possible, asked: “What would you do if you were ever to win 10 million dollars?”

Without hesitation the man replied, “I’d give half to the Church!” Whereupon, the pastor dropped dead.

While I would love to win the lottery, I have yet to ever buy a ticket…. So, I don’t expect to win. I have read that the love of money can cripple and diminish and destroy people more effectively than any form of illness. We have seen this portrayed in stories and in movies. The classic movie, Treasures of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart, was one of those. The characters in the story came to value the gold they mined more than each other.

Not just once, but repeatedly in the Gospels, Jesus tells us that preoccupation with money can destroy our ability to enter into and rejoice in the new life He is offering us.

I am reminded of the story of the multi-millionaire who was visiting a small church where he first became a Christian. He was invited to give a testimony on his faith experience. So the rich man spoke of when he was a little boy in the church, and how he had earned his first dollar. It was a silver dollar, and he had decided to keep it forever. But a visiting missionary came to church that day and preached about the urgent needs to proclaim the gospel in other poor places in the world. Consequently, when the offering basket was passed around, he said that a great struggle took place inside him. As a result of his wanting to worship God with his whole heart and soul, he put his treasured silver dollar in the offering basket. And he concluded by saying that he was convinced the reason he had become a multi-millionaire is that when he was a boy, he gave God everything he possessed.

As he paused for effect, the congregation was spellbound by his tremendous testimony, until an elderly lady in the back stood up and said, “Brother, I dare you to do it again!”

Actually, of course, God expects us to take care of our families and pay our bills, but our donations are an integral part of our worship. And just like our prayer, we must be ready to do it again and again and again. Life consists not in how much we get, but in how we use what we are given.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your approach to human involvement with your church and the commission given to her. Thank you that you make us partners with you, involving us in this life in preparation for the next. We ask for your wisdom to see clearly where our treasure, such as it is, should be set.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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