“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don't eat them and where thieves don't break and steal them. them. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 (CEB)
Sitting on the mountainside with Jesus for forty days gives one cause for deep reflection. Today as I listen, I hear him say, “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth where moth and rust eat them . . . Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”
I am reminded of my recent foray in downsizing. What a task! Trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of and knowing that I must get rid of most of it was at best an exercise in futility. To cram a four bedroom, two-story house into a two bedroom mobile home seemed impossible.
It seemed that the rains that came in January were crying the tears my heart felt at having to part with my things, my treasures. The weather even colluded to foil my plans for an estate sale. Treasures? I had nothing to rust? What I did have was lots of kitchen appliances, and dishware that I did not have room for in a mobile home, and books, books and more books. I had cookbooks and religious books and Bibles, commentaries, full collections from some of my favorite authors, poetry, biographies, history, romance, nature, music, Christmas and even books left over from childhood. These were my friends, my companions, my treasures, and yes some were moth eaten and there was some dust.
As I sorted and packed, I began to realize just how much money I had spent, not just on books, but on unused appliances, an overstocked pantry and freezers and even clothes. I found myself feeling guilty and literally apologizing to God and asking forgiveness, more than once, for spending, so unwisely, the money He has blessed me with.
Jesus does not condemn us for buying things we need or enjoy. But when we accumulate and stockpile what we have, and fail to use, share, or even give away, then we hear Him say, Stop! Stop collecting treasures for your benefit on earth. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven.
Collect treasures for myself in heaven? We all know that we can't work our way to heaven. In Matthew 19:21 Jesus gives an explanation of what He means by treasure in heaven, when He says to the rich, young ruler, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come and follow me.”
If you want to be complete. Listen as Jesus reminds us:
Blessed—Happy, Fortunate—are the spiritually poor, for God will enrich them.
Blessed are those who show sorrow for sin; they shall be forgiven.
Blessed are those who are humbled by circumstances; they will be made great.
Blessed are those who crave to live a righteous life; the Spirit will satisfy their need.
Blessed are those who selflessly look after the needs of others; they will never want in time of their need.
Blessed are those who have pure hearts toward God; they will see Him.
Blessed are they who live at peace with others; they will be called God's children.
Blessed are those who suffer choosing the right, all of heaven will be theirs.
Blessed are you who are insulted and given pain and get gossiped about because of me.
The best is yet to come as Jesus continues:
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, because great is your reward, your treasure, in receiving a place heaven.
Those blessings are true treasure, the marks of a complete life.
I learned that people were willing to help me when I was willing to humble myself and ask. That is not easy for me. And yet it is a freeing experience to give away and not feel regret. I'm still getting rid of stuff, earthly treasure, if you please, but it’s getting easier as I am getting the big picture of what treasure really is and as I continue to listen to Jesus.
And the other thing I learned? Get rid of your stuff! Whatever it is. If you want to be complete, and live a blessed, whole life, store up fewer treasures on Earth.