October 4, 2010

To Live is Christ — the best treasure

Visiting with two couples who had never been in our home, DH once teased me about being a hoarder. I say “once” because he’ll never do that again. He does not watch reality television shows, so had no idea about the image that the word “hoarder” puts in most people’s minds these days. One commercial opened his eyes.

Both of us fill the storage we have, yet our home is tidy and clean. We both have lots of books. I have lots of fabric for my quilting passion. Still, I dislike putting anything on the floor and we recycle all extra paper, flyers, etc. We both are in constant “downsize mode” and work hard at avoiding clutter.

Yet there is a question. When does accumulation or collecting become hoarding? Jesus gives the answer in this passage that seems like it is about money and stuff, but it is really about the human heart.

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. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:19–24)
Maybe Jesus knew that someday cars would wear bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” He certainly knows human sinfulness. We value that which has no eternal value. We also tend to forget the proverbial “You cannot take it with you” and attach our personal worth to the treasures we can see and touch. While we are supposed to take care of what we have, He says the line is crossed — not by what we have, but by what our hearts consider treasure.

As for my heart’s value system, I occasionally determine this is by checking my thought life. My treasure is in what I think about all day. Right now, this includes my to-do list, people on my prayer list, and whatever the Lord is speaking to me about in these daily devotions. I also think about the creative projects in my studio and about the books I’ve been reading, but constantly in the back of my mind is the concept of eternity. This ‘stuff’ is not going with me, so what does God want me to do with it? How can I be a responsible and efficient manager of my time, skills and whatever else He has allowed me to have?

I’ve not watched the hoarding programs on television, mainly because I’ve better things to do, but the commercials show people who first deny that they need their house cleaned. They also say that they are collectors, and they use the word “mine” excessively. Their focus is their stuff.

I’m constantly trying to get rid of excess stuff. If someone offered to help, I’d say, “Have at it.” While I’d not want to part with family photos or daily necessities, paring down extra stuff seems to give me more head space for the important treasures, like spiritual matters, prayer for others, eternal choices. God has also shown me that nothing is actually “mine” anyway. It is on loan from Him and entrusted to my care.

What is my greatest treasure? Certainly it’s Jesus Christ. I cannot stuff my home with a person, but because of His grace, my heart can be my hoarding place for Him.

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