Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering from the effects of the natural disasters that have been tearing through our country recently: wild fires, hurricanes, flooding, tornados. Everywhere we look there seems to be some threat from the powerful forces of nature.
As I pray for my sisters and brothers affected, and see the heart wrenching photos, I ask God for mercy. I also ask Him to make our hearts teachable and willing to respond to whatever His call is on us as individuals and collectively.
One of those lessons I have been reflecting on is what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Matthew 6:19-21
As we see image after image of homes destroyed, lands burned, neighborhoods underwater, people in shelters with only what they were able to carry with them, it is sobering to realize that we can lose all our material possessions in an instant.
But isn’t that what happens when we die? We lose every material possession we ever had, the moment we pass from this life to the next.
So that begs the question: how much time do I spend collecting, buying, storing up, worrying about, striving for things that won’t last in the end? And how much time do I spend and dedicate to storing up “treasures in heaven?”
What are the “treasures in heaven” that Jesus speaks of? He lays them out in the Beatitudes that we can read in the previous chapter of Matthew: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are the merciful…blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice…blessed are the peacemakers…” (Matthew 5:3-12) — basically whatever we do to try to make life a little better, a little easier, a little more just for those around us. It means loving with agape love, even when the going gets tough.
I was recently at a pro-life fundraiser, and the keynote speaker challenged us to get more actively involved. She said, “I’m not going to urge you to give generously. I urge you to give sacrificially.” She asked us to look closely at our expenditures, our budgets, and see what we would be willing to give up, for ourselves and our families, so that we could support the building up of a culture of life in our nation.
The Lord’s words in Matthew 6 challenge us in the same way. What earthly treasures can we give up and stop accumulating so that we can re-focus on storing up heavenly treasures?
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be, too.