Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Treasures in Heaven

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 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 6:19-21 NIV1984

This verse immediately caused me to think of The Lumber Song. Saint Peter tells the man in the song after passing by some really big houses and he gets to his own two room shack "Looks like the builder, man he's got your number, thats all the lumber you sent" Here's the video if you get this as an e-mail and it does not come through just click on the title to get back to the main site.
 

So how do we go about laying up treasures or even lumber in heaven?

I found this in the IVP New Testament Commentary "The issue is not that possessions themselves are bad but that a higher priority demands our resources. If we value what our Lord values rather than what our society values, he demands that we meet the basic needs of people lacking adequate resources before we seek to accumulate possessions beyond our basic need."

James 2:14-16 (NIV1984) Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

I was talking with my pastor yesterday we are both in our 50's and life has not turned out like we had expected. Through the years what has kept each of us going on our personal journeys has been the idea that all this struggle leads to something. I think that eventually the skills and talents will find the perfect ministry and all the difficulty along the way will then make sense. We often talk about how one measures succes in ministry. Is it that you have managed to build some big thriving organization or is it the lives touched, the people you stood up for, supported, believed in when others around them had given up. I look at Jesus and how he lived. He was not busy accumulating stuff, he lived in the moment. When he needed to pay taxes the money was found in the mouth of a fish. When he needed to feed a multitude he looked to see what was available to be shared and multiplied it. When he needed a place to stay in a new town some how some one he talked to that day invited him over. 

I got to admit I spend too much time trying to manage or deal with the stuff of earth. I am busy  trying to juggle finances, and make sure there is food on the table and my kids have shoes and clothes that fit them. That I will have gas for the car and that it won't break down. I struggle with the line between faith and being responsible. 


Matthew 6:27-29 (NIV1984) 
27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

So treasures in heaven - most of the time that's not even part of my equation.
What if none of this life really makes sense till we get there? What if how I choose to use my earthly resources matters less here and more in heaven?
Am I taking my cues for how to live this Christian from other Christians in my own culture. We are steeped in the American Dream mentality. I have to step back and really examine how Jesus and the disciples lived and compare it to what many of us today consider a good Christian life. It may look like we have been successful but we have spent our resources on our own comfort when all around us are people with basic needs un-met. I look at the Jesus kind of life and I look at what we call a good Christian life based on the American Dream and I see a gigantic disparity.     

I guess I generally don't think much beyond that final day when we stand before the Lord. My goal is not so much treasures in heaven as it is to hear the Lord say "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Because of that I am always mindful of the story of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25: 
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

I can't ever shake this verse from Matthew 7
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

How can people who are calling on the name of the Lord and doing miracles and driving out demons be told so plainly "I never knew you"?
I go back to look at the difference between the sheep and the goat and the difference lies in what they did and didn't do for others. 

The Reformation Study Bible adds this bit of insight  "Lord, Lord. The doubling of a name was an address of intimacy. It is not claims or feelings of intimacy with Jesus that matter, nor is it simply good works, even miraculous ones; only doing the will of the Father matters. Genuine intimacy with the Father means knowing God and being known by God"

"That there is a remnant, who by hearing and doing the sayings of Christ, build their hopes upon this Rock; and it is their wisdom. Christ is our only Way to the Father, and the obedience of faith is our only way to Christ: for to them that obey him, and to them only, he becomes the Author of eternal salvation. Those build upon Christ, who having sincerely consented to him, as their Prince and Saviour, make it their constant care to conform to all the rules of his holy religion, and therein depend entirely upon him for assistance from God, and acceptance with him, and count everything but loss and dung that they may win Christ, and be found in him. Building upon a rock requires care and pains: they that would make their calling and election sure, must give diligence. They are wise builders who begin to build so as they may be able to finish (Luke 14:30), and therefore lay a firm foundation." ~ Matthew Henry

As for treasures in heaven I start with looking around as I go through my day and asking what can I do for the least of these? How exactly some little act of kindness will stack up as lumber or treasures in heaven I don't know. I do know that my bible is filled with verses like Psalm 41:1 "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble". I try to look beyond my own life drama and see where I can make a difference even in a small way for someone else. My life drama I have to leave in the hands of the Lord. He is the one who supplies all that I need to do everything He calls me to do. If I am coming up short than I need to go back to him and make sure I am on his mission and not off on my own self righteous rabbit trail. 

Well I'm out of time for today. 

Prayer: May the Lord bless and keep you and my his face shine on you and may he be gracious to you. May you have eyes to see needs that he has called you to meet. May your speech be filled with kindness and compassion. I pray that you will be attentive to the Holy Spirt as you go through your day.  




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