Diffuse Reflections, The Gospels
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Reorientation from Remuneration Frustration


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“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21

When thinking about this passage it is easy to apply it to the “haves”, to those who have earthly treasure. Conversely, if we consider ourselves as members of the “have-nots”, it becomes more difficult. If we are struggling financially, it is easy to dismiss this verse as a principle for others to follow: surely Jesus wasn’t talking about us.

However, Jesus wasn’t just speaking to the wealthy. Most of Jesus’ followers were ordinary folk: peasants who struggled to ‘make ends meet’ under the oppressive Roman government, which overtaxed their livelihood (Matthew 17:24-27), and the oppressive religious leaders (the Pharisees), who overtaxed their worship (Matthew 23:1-4). Most of Jesus’ followers didn’t have much earthly wealth to speak of. Why then, did Jesus give them, and us, this instruction?

To answer this question, consider that much of Jesus’ teaching focuses on our attitudes. The famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 5-7), from which out text is taken, begins with nine ‘beautiful attitudes’ (i.e., beatitudes). Therefore, Jesus was not just talking about how we should treat earthly treasure (money, wealth). Rather, He was more broadly talking about our attitude to earthly treasure (money, wealth). In other words, many of us do not store up money/wealth/treasure ONLY because we don’t have any to store up. But, if we did have money/wealth/treasure to store up, we would!

Jesus, then, is showing us that we need to change our attitude to material wealth, whether or not we have any.

This is a big problem among Believers today. Many of us (author included) become frustrated with our lack of earthly treasure (money, wealth). We wonder why God hasn’t blessed us with the things that “moth” and “rust doth corrupt”. Somehow, we fail to recognize that God has lovingly removed from our lives the temptation to accumulate wealth unto ourselves. Indeed, we fail to see that our very desire for material wealth demonstrates that we are focused on earthly treasure rather than on the “treasures in heaven” that Jesus instructs us to hold dear.

Whether rich, or poor, or somewhere in between, let us heed Jesus’ command: Let us learn to value heavenly treasures (humility, mercy, meekness, purity, etc.—Matthew 5:3-12) over earthly treasures (money, wealth, stuff). Moreover, when heavenly treasures are all we have left, let us recognize God’s merciful hand and REJOICE!

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