- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about treasure?
Merriam-Webster defines treasure as: “wealth (such as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded; wealth of any kind or in any form; a store of money in reserve; something of great worth or value; a person esteemed as rare or precious.” Treasures come in many forms and are valued based on the wants of the people doing the evaluating. God spends more time on treasures, money, and every other kind of treasure than any other subject in the Bible. Why?
Because He knows we humans love what we treasure, Matt 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He also knows we are incapable of loving two competing ideas without it creating stress and disease, Matt 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” He wants us to choose the treasure of eternal life, which He is offering, Deut 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” The eternal life He offers frees us from the stresses of this world, replacing them with a new kind of peace, Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
God tells us the kingdom of heaven is a great treasure, Matt 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Once we truly understand the value of the kingdom of heaven, we will sell everything in this life to buy it. Nothing in this life is worth sacrificing the great treasure God is freely offering, Matt 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Think of the Apostles; they walked away from everything they had because they chose to follow Jesus to their martyrdoms. Why?
Can we look around this world to learn what people treasure and where their hearts are? When we see drug use escalating, are we seeing temporary pleasures elevated above the love of the kingdom of God? When we see suicides increasing, are we seeing this world’s pain and suffering elevated above the hope of eternal life? When we witness unethical behavior at the highest levels, are we seeing greed elevated above God’s calling for us to be servants? When we see people lying to us to get our vote, are we seeing hypocrisy elevating power above the peace and joy God is offering? When we see divorce rates rising, are we seeing selfishness elevated above God’s advice on love in marriage? We could go on, however, the point is we live in a world desperately trying to ignore the love of the kingdom of God and trying to keep His advice out of the hands of the average person. This path has led to most of the pain and suffering we see in this world, we just have to be honest enough and patient enough to see the results of that path, Prov 15:16, "Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith." Why are we allowing these temporary treasures to bring us the 'trouble therewith' and to ultimately separate us from God’s love? Matt 6:19, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:"
Do we not understand God treasures each of us? Lk 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” and Matt 18:12-14, “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” He wants all of us to enjoy eternity with Him in heaven.
He created all of the seen and unseen things of this life to help us understand His Truth, Rom 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” and to allow us to use the free will He has given us to decide our own eternal futures. He has never forced us to love Him. He has allowed evil to exist, so we might be able to make the correct choice. Without the long-term effects of both good and evil playing out before our very eyes, how could we ever make the correct choice?
This is the freedom He gave to Adam and Eve. They had not previously experienced evil and fell prey to it. They learned from their mistake, only after seeing the results of evil. Those of us fortunate enough to be born in a wealthy, free society, think we know better than those born into a life of poverty and hopelessness. But, might those who are less fortunate have a clearer picture of the long-term effects of evil. They live with it daily, and Jesus came to show all of us the path to righteousness, Matt 9:13, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Are we paying attention to the suffering in this world? Are we learning from the misery around us, or are we allowing our comfort to blind us to the evil that lives amongst us? 1 Tim 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." Paul understood the evil he had done, he did not feign righteousness but rather chose Jesus as His savior. Paul allowed Saul to perish and was reborn as Paul because of he believed in Jesus. Do we personally experience Saul's blindness to find Jesus? Or, can we accept Paul's testimony as evidence of Jesus' ability and willingness to save us?
Until we treasure the kingdom of God more than we treasure what this world has to offer, we will be trapped by our prophecies, Phil 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is where treasuring God’s Word steps in to pull us out of the pit and onto the path, which leads to Him, for He is willing to guide our every step, Ps 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The secret is consistently feeding on His Word, a daily feeding nourishes our soul, just as the food we eat nourishes our bodies, Matt 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Without consistent feeding, our souls become the stony places, which futilely receive the seed of His Word, Matt 13:20-21, “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
When we hear His Word only occasionally, we feel the warmth of His Word penetrating our souls, however, because we have never let the roots of the Word grow in our souls, when tragedies occur, as they must for all of us, we do not have the full understanding of His Word to protect us, and we are offended unto unbelief. Once the root system begins to develop in our souls, we learn to abide in our Father’s love, Jn 15:9-10, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” We then learn God is rich in mercy because He has a great love for us, which He has already demonstrated by offering us Jesus’ sacrifice, even when we were dead in our sins, Eph 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
Some see the animal sacrifices the Jewish people made, before the coming of the Messiah, as foolish. But, God gave them to us to foreshadow Jesus’ sacrifice so we might see how painful the shedding of blood is and seek Him for our own salvation. Those who follow the path of evil always try to hide the lessons we can learn from studying the long-term results of evil. Jesus told us we can know when we are following evil, we only need to look at the fruit of our lives, Matt 7:17, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." and Gal 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." We do not need laws if we live the fruit of the Spirit. God tells us to ponder the path we are on, Prov 4:26-27, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil." to judge ourselves, not others, Matt 7:1, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." We each have enough work to do in our own lives, Matt 7:3, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
When we treasure God’s Word and His kingdom, we will not allow the momentary pleasures of this world, or the lies meant to hide the results of evil, blind us to His love. We can learn to willingly trade the momentary pleasures of this life for the eternal peace and joy He is offering. Everyone who does find God’s wisdom, which leads to God’s kingdom, discovers the greatest treasure of all, Prov 3:13-15, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”
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