“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
What is the most important thing in your life?
Would the way you live your life support that answer that you just made to what is the most important?
The above passage comes from the mouth of Jesus in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. It follows immediately after Jesus’s reminder that practices of faith (giving, prayer, fasting) are not to be performed for others, but for God. Thus we are to give without letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing. We are to pray in secret, in the closets of our rooms. And we are to not act differently when we fast, drawing no attention to ourselves. In so doing, we will avoid the “praise of men” but receive the reward from God.
The passage precedes a teaching on money. We should not worry about what we eat or wear because God will take care of us. We can not serve two masters, God and money. Money has a way of controlling us, it becomes the lamp of the body. While money is a necessary part of life, as disciples, we must not let it control us. Money is not god.
In some ways then, this passage is a reaction against materialism. It is a reminder that where we spend our money says a lot about who we are as people. Our bank account will often speak loudly about what we find important. Ultimately, money and possessions will fade away because they are not eternal. Don’t become a slave to the almighty dollar, be a slave of God.
But on a broader level, it presents a probing question of what is most important. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What is my treasure? What is it in life that draws my attention and consumes my thoughts and energy? Where do I spend my money, but more importantly, what is it that controls me?
Perhaps the greater question is what is my god?
The problem with idolatry, especially in the modern world, is not the danger of bowing down to a piece of rock or stone thinking that in doing so one might affect the future. The danger is finding one’s identity or fulfillment in some created thing rather than in the Creator of all things. It is believing that life will only be complete when you achieve a certain status, attain a certain level of financial stability, obtain a certain material item, or gain a certain amount of respect. It is finding our security in something other than God, or believing we need God and ______ to be happy (you fill in the blank). Because of that, idolatry is tricky. It sneaks up on us when we are least expecting. We would never say our job is our god, or our family is our god, or we worship the accumulation of money. But while we may not say it, our actions may live it. And where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I would assume, that most of the people reading this would say that God is the most important thing in their lives. I would answer in the same way. Yet Jesus poses a question that we may want to avoid, but demands to be answered. What is our treasure? Not what do we say is most important in our lives, but what in reality is most important in our lives? Is it our children? Is it our job? Is it financial security? Is it popularity or recognition? Or is it God?
What brings us happiness? What defines success? What makes us feel complete?
Only God can fill the hole in our lives. Only God can make us complete. Any created thing that we look to for recognition or satisfaction will leave us lacking. Moth and rust will destroy and thieves will steal. But when our treasure is God, no sickness, no financial crisis, no loss of job, can ever take it away.
So if you claim that God is most important in your life, make sure you spend time cultivating that relationship so that your life mirrors your commitment.