August 10, 2013

Laying up Treasure

The National Archives houses the Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As I looked at them and thought about the efforts of a nation to be free, these words from Jesus came to mind…
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31–32)

Freedom is not about absence of restraint or being able to do whatever I want to do. It is about living according to the truth of God.

Those buildings that make up the Smithsonian are valued in the millions, surrounded by security people, all armed and serious about protecting their contents. All have highly rated archival systems to prevent deterioration, yet the documents we saw are faded and almost unreadable. As I observed the evidence of big money and vast fortunes, also thought of what is eternally valuable.

Today’s devotional is about treasure and about how Jesus wants me to build a fortune. Again, this is not about having everything I could want, but about living with eternity in mind.

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)

I know how His freedom principle works; I say no to sin and yes to Him. The treasure principle is not as simple. Jesus illustrated it with a parable…

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’…. Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ (Matthew 25:34, 41)

Between these two extremes are instructions for how to be an heir to His kingdom rather than face the consequences of fire…

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (Matthew 25:35–36)

Though He is the Lord and doesn’t need my goods, He does want me to do something for Him. He has submitted to be hungry in the poor and looks for my response to the needy. This is part of what it means to lay up treasure in heaven. Freedom is departing from sin, but to be rich means replacing sin with doing good.

The devotional suggests that merely avoiding evil can be like the Pharisee who prayed saying he was a good man who didn’t do this and didn’t do that, but he forgot the next step… “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). The ‘doing good’ part is more challenging, but vital. It isn’t enough to stop sinning…

Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:10–11)

This makes me think of those sins that are most difficult to conquer. Sometimes I simply forget that “put off, put on” principle, that ‘depart from evil and do good’ command. The ‘do good’ is a vital part of winning the battle. Not only that, it is also part of laying up treasure in heaven, a treasure that needs no security guards or archival efforts because it will last forever. 

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