Matthew 6:20, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
Hebrews 13:5, “Be content with such things as you have”
A story has been told of an American tourist who traveled to Poland to visit with a respected religious teacher who was known for his wisdom. The visitor noticed that the man’s room had nothing but a table, a chair, and some books. Puzzled by such austerity, he asked, “Where is your furniture?” The teacher answered, “My furniture? Where is your furniture, my friend?” The American protested, “Furniture? But I am only a tourist passing through.” “So am I,” said the man. And you know what so are all of us. Because it’s true that we’re just passing through this world, we need to learn to loosen our grip on our earthly possessions. This declaration from Jesus should help us, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Rather than acquiring and holding tightly to earthly things, we should be obeying this command given by our Savior, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). If you’re born again through the blood of Christ, your daily provisions will be taken care of. In Matthew 6, Jesus referred to His Father’s care of the “birds of the air” and the “lilies of the field” to illustrate His eagerness to meet our material needs. He also taught that we will have what we need if we focus on spiritual priorities. Instead of being preoccupied with worry about personal needs, we should be occupied with God’s kingdom and His righteousness. And when we are, we can be assured that not some, not most, but all things that we need will be supplied.
The book of Hebrews strikes a strange note for men and women living with the values of the 21st century. “Let your conduct be without covetousness,” the writer urged, and “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5). He wasn’t saying that having money is a sin, but it can be a problem. Our world has bought into the myth that riches and contentment go together, that they’re almost the same thing. Yet, many wealthy people who boast large bank accounts are not content. They always want more, and they live in dread that they will lose what they have. “Be content with such things as you have.” Well, what do you have? Do you immediately think of what’s in your savings account or stock portfolio? If so, you’re looking in the wrong place. The writer of Hebrews said that if you live with faith in the Lord of eternity, you have Him. He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. You have Him, so you can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” My friend, if you have everything else but the Lord, you don’t have much at all. If you have the Lord’s presence and little else, you can be content. It’s far better to have a satisfied soul than a thick wallet. Thus, we need to ask ourselves often the following questions:
(1) Am I preoccupied with material concerns?
(2) Or, am I occupied with God’s kingdom and His righteousness?
(3) It’s either one or the other – we can’t have both.
Hold tightly what is eternal; hold lightly what is temporal.