I haven’t been writing many devotionals lately, so I’m going to start. I think there should be some explanation of what I intend to do here. First, I know that there are many folks who read my blog who are not ‘Christian’ and many who do not see the Bible as an authoritative document. There are others who read this who will understand the Bible passages I reference as God’s Word and it will carry that authority. I hope these brief devotional thoughts (which I intend to write weekly on Sundays, not Daily yet) will be beneficial for both types of readers. For some this will be an authoritative and challenging word to pursue their faith even further. For others, I hope this will be an informative lesson into the teachings of Jesus Christ. The title of my blog, Trying to Follow, is a reference to my attempt to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. My life has been changed by Jesus and his words, my hope is they have an impact on you as well, regardless of your faith and beliefs.
Today, I want to talk about a something Jesus said in his famous Sermon on the Mount, one of the most radical speeches, I would say, of all time. We’ve been talking about this at Mosaic a little bit and I had to share my two cents on the topic. Here are my thoughts for your enjoyment.
“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 6:18-21
First of all you have to notice it’s a dichotomy. “Do Not…But…” If Jesus wanted to put a disclaimer in I think he would have, and if he wanted to say you could do both at the same time (treasures on earth and in heaven) he would have said it differently. Jesus is giving advice on how you should live, and were we should be investing our money and energy. It’s a pretty radical statement, Don’t store up treasure on earth. To some degree it’s a pretty straight forward statement, and yet we might have a hard time figuring out how exactly this is carried out in our current lifestyle and society. I think some more context will help.
Jesus has already said some life-changing, paradigm-shifting, wealth-challenging, irrational (by our logic), sacrifice-requiring types of stuff. And remember this is all in the same sermon…
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matt 5:42”
Love your Enemies and pray for those who persecute you. -Matt 5:44
“But when you give to the needy…” -Matt 6:3
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe to you who are rich, for your have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” -Luke 6:20,24,25
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. -Luke 6:31
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” -Luke 6:35
So, just to recap, you’ve got Jesus telling folks to give to anyone who asks, he even tells us to lend to our enemies (talk about an unwise investment). He exhorts you and I that are riches will be our comfort, and points us to the poor who have been given the kingdom. This is the Jesus who says do not store up treasure on earth.
My bike has been stolen multiple times and every time I think of this passage, and I have to question whether I was storing up treasure on earth were at thieve DID break in and steal.
Oh, and just in case you think Jesus might not really be saying “Do not store up treasures on earth” read the next passage. In case your thinking, but obviously Jesus doesn’t want us to be irrational and not store up for this or that…
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? -Matt 5:25-27
I’ve used the word “irrational” a few times here, because I think that acknowledges the attitude that we tend to feel when we hear something like this. Jesus is challenging our way of life and it does not seem rational to us. Look at Jesus, he’s wandering around, without a home, preaching and healing people, no treasure on earth, and leading as an example of storing up treasure in heaven. I’m not sure exactly what this should look like in a ‘Christians’ life, but I’m confident it does not look like the majority of Christians and churches in our society. Does it mean we don’t store up in IRA’s and invest in properties or stock or things of that nature? Maybe. Until Christians begin to gather together, stop justifying their lifestyles, and begin to struggle with the words of Jesus, we should question our taking of the term “like Christ.”