Matthew 6:19 (NIV)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Privilege and Where Your Treasure Is
During a recent evening commute on a local bus, I was chatting with an acquaintance. He is an upper middle class white man, Baby Boomer age, solid in his job and finances. He will sometimes talk about very basic issues of power and privilege, but it is only an intellectual exercise for him. He has never known one day of need or injustice from oppression.
Mostly he talks about his house: all the improvements he is making, how the house is rising in value, how much he might get for it when he retires. No doubt he is a hard worker. He has pulled fifty hour shifts for years, but he has privileges he does not begin to understand, starting with the easy offer of good-paying work. Sadly, all that privilege dulls his eyes to the Spirit.
During our chat that day, he told me, “I want to have one million dollars in my bank account.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied. “A nice retirement. Power. Choices.”
Power? I thought. I can’t believe he actually said power. Why do people want power?
During the discussion, Jesus kept whispering in my ear, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Earthly treasure goes with earthly power. I battled this in my time on earth, too.”
Earthly Treasure Brings Earthly Power
The Oxford Dictionary defines power as:
The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
Power is the ability to control another, to set oneself on a pedestal, to take up an earthly throne. Power is part of the fallen human nature, the mirrors, the lies of deception. A throne and a mirror alike can break.
“I don’t really want a big savings account,” I told my friend. “Actually, my goal is to never have a million dollars saved. I want to spend all my money on the poor and needy, helping people out. Give them housing, food, medical care.”
“Well, I’m not surprised,” he said. “You are a kind-hearted person.”
Kind-hearted is not the right word, I thought. We should all be kind-hearted and compassionate toward each other. My business on this earthly journey is to spend all my earthly money on kingdom living, where my treasure is.
I smiled and looked out the window as the bus kept rolling down the road.
Who Seeks Kingdom Treasure?
On his earthly journey, Jesus constantly lifted up the poor and the oppressed. He distanced himself from the powerful Pharisees. He said that their public displays of giving and prayer brought them the earthly reward (treasure) they sought. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:5 (NIV)
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
During part of my morning commute, I ride an express bus from a wealthy suburb to downtown. This bus is full of corporate skyscraper workers, well-paid upper middle class people. People with the power of big savings accounts, big houses, earthly treasure.
I overhear their conversations, peppered with nice Christian lingo.
“I went to this great Bible retreat. The pastor was inspirational, and good-looking!”
“The realtor says I can get 350 for the house. I need to find time with the Lord about this house sale.”
l sigh and keep my eyes on my newspaper. Do the looks of a pastor increase the value of his sermon? Does that woman really care about what the Lord would want for her to do with her house, or her riches?
Their treasure is clear. I never hear conversations on the bus about heavenly treasure or taking up their cross. Are the poor, those closest to God’s heart, worth “350”? Don’t these wealthy homeowners understand that thieves and tornadoes, a hurricane or a heart attack, can destroy all their treasure on earth?
Where your treasure is…
Does anyone bother asking God what He treasures? He cares far more for the oppressed than He cares for your housing value, your inspirational Bible study, your powerful savings account.
The Holy Spirit is crying out for people to follow her in wisdom on the earth. Put your treasure in her storehouses, the kingdom which Jesus showed us.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.