“Stop collecting treasure for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them.” (Matthew 6:19)
The first time it happened, I didn’t know what she was up to. I had come home to visit my parents, and as I was leaving my mom stopped me and handed me a box. It was an old cardboard box that was heavy in my arms. When I opened the box, I realized what she was doing. She was cleaning out her closets. This became her custom for the next couple of years. Every time I left, she would hand me another old box. The boxes were filled to the brim with stuff. It was my stuff.
When I opened the boxes, memories would flood over me. One box was filled with all my old trophies. Soccer, baseball, basketball and pinewood derby trophies reminded me of my pursuits when I was younger. Another box held my baseball card collection, the one I pored over hour after hour in elementary school. Another box had photos, another notes and cards, another local newspaper clippings with my name highlighted.
My mother had given me the treasure from my first eighteen years. Surprisingly, it all fit into four or five boxes. Not so surprisingly, the stuff that had been cluttering her closet now clutters mine.
We all have stuff. We have so much stuff that our homes can’t hold it all. But this book won’t be an indictment on stuff. In fact much of our stuff is quite helpful. The couches, the refrigerator, the beds all go to good use. Even the things we think are worth keeping in boxes can hold special meaning. What I’ve learned though, is that those things are not our treasure.
Jesus said we should stop collecting treasures for our own benefit. His words imply that our lives have a higher purpose than acquiring things to fill rooms and closets. This may seem obvious, until we consider where we spend the majority of our time. If most of our time is spent making money to pay for our stuff, then we at least need to pause for moment and consider Jesus’ admonition.
Stop collecting treasure for your own benefit.
Jesus is not condemning stuff. Most of us need the stuff we have and most of us are grateful for reminders of the past we keep in boxes. Instead, Jesus is pointing us to a greater purpose for our lives than accumulating things in the temporary homes we live in. He has more for you.
Jesus wants to redefine what means treasure to you.
O God, I know that you have something to say to me today. Help me hear your voice above all the noise in my life. I search after many things; help me search for you. I have sought treasure in many places; remind me that my treasure is in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
How does today’s scripture intersect with your life? Reflect on this gentle warning from Jesus, and then write down your thoughts.
Take time to get out if you can and walk in this early fall weather and as you walk ponder the fact that in our lives we have the opportunity to collect not just stuff but treasure. What do you treasure? Ask God to give you insight into what you should treasure.
Do you have a collection? What might your collection or valuables say about how you spend your time, energy and resources?
Consider taking time to look through the keepsakes you have saved over the years. Ask yourself why you saved these particular treasures and recall the memories and reminders they hold for you.