Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…..

I wonder where your treasure is…. What your treasure is?

We all have things we treasure – things we have gathered together or built up – they could be material things – a lovely home, wealth to secure us a comfortable life…..but it could also be other things….work we are proud of, a business we have grown, a beautiful family we have nurtured and cherished.

What are your treasures?

I did an enlightening exercise this week… I was asked to list the values that were important to me – non material things in my life – things I couldn’t put in a wheelbarrow, like honesty or joy – to make quite a long list, and then to prioritise them.

And this was the interesting bit – I had to prioritise them being honest about what my life reflected, rather than what I thought the priorities ought to be.

So for example, I could say that relationships were the most important value – but if I’m not investing as much time into these as I am into, for example, my work – is that really true, or are other values, such as wealth, security or achievement, higher up the list?

It was quite an eye-opening exercise – especially when you realise some values are not in the order of priority you think they should be in.

To me, the first part of the gospel reading is Jesus encouraging us to reflect on exactly this…what our treasures are...what is it we value the most? Are we developing values and treasures that will be good for us – or good for our communities, good for our world? Or are we valuing things that have no lasting benefit – that will have a tendency to cut us off, break down relationships, isolate us? As James reflected last week – the wealthy business man had built up excesses of material wealth but was all alone, would die that night, and could not take it with him…..what was it all for?

Today’s gospel is Jesus encouraging us to think about what we are building up, what we are treasuring, so we don’t find ourselves in that situation.

Now I don’t think this is saying that we should not make sensible financial decisions about our future, but I do think there is a challenge about how we prioritise – which brings me back to values.

Our values usually come from our beliefs – and these are embedded in us from young children – by our parents, and by our experiences of life.

If you grew up in a household where there was never enough money….you may value material security higher than someone who has never had to worry about it.

If you grew up in a house where work was more important than family time – you may have inherited the view that work has to come first.

What is interesting in today’s readings is that God is asking us to trust him for our wellbeing. Jesus starts by saying “Do not be afraid….God wants to give you the kingdom”….in other words – your heavenly father wants what is best for you, wants to give you treasure…..so try and connect with this and build up the right kind of treasure in your life.

If we are busy worrying about all our material wealth, then it is less likely we will be able to focus on the treasures that God wants to give us…. The treasures of relationships that stem from caring about your community, caring for the needy and vulnerable, spending time with those you love most.

I see it in my own life all the time – I have a full time job that is very hard work, and so I have to make a huge effort to spend sufficient time with my family, and it’s even harder to try and build relationships with the wider community and ensure I am doing something for the poor and vulnerable.

It’s so easy to think, once I’ve finished with this role, once I retire, sometime in the future I will have more time to do all that good stuff.

But this is the point of the second half of the gospel – Jesus says we must be ready – do not wait to put your treasure in heaven – don’t put off doing what you could do today. For none of us know what the future holds.

And again, this comes back to values and priorities……

What does the kingdom of heaven really look like? We pray every week, may your kingdom come – may your will be done – ON EARTH, as it is in heaven.

Do we mean it? Do we really want to bring God’s kingdom here? Because if we do, maybe some of our values and priorities need to change?

I wonder what values would be at the top of the list, if we were to bring God’s kingdom here?

It’s easy to say Love, but I think we have to be much more practical…how are we helping those who do not have enough to eat? those who are lonely? those who are sick or grieving?

Are we doing anything to build communities? Help those who are struggling with life? What are we doing to get justice for those who need it most? What are we doing to create a sustainable world that can thrive, rather than be abused and used up?

It’s not to say we shouldn’t also do the things we love most, and it’s not to say we shouldn’t work hard and provide for our families, but have we got the balance right?

What percentage of our time or money do we devote to people, communities in need or causes outside of our family?..............

Now the reality is, that we will only follow Jesus more closely if we trust in God’s promises, and if we really do want God’s Kingdom to come closer...for this we need faith in God – in his love for us and for our world, and in his purposes.

It’s so easy to forget that God’s love surrounds us, and we can trust that love.

Abraham trusted God, when he moved his entire household, and believed God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…he had faith.

But what is faith?

Debie Thomas says that “According to Abraham’s story, …faith is the audacity to undertake a perilous journey simply because God asks us to... Faith is the willingness to stretch out our imaginations and see new birth, new life, new joy... Faith is the urgency of the homeless for a true and lasting home — a home whose architect and builder is God…

Faith is a longing… a hunger… a desire for God.”

You’ve probably heard it said that the opposite of faith is not doubt. Maybe “the opposite of faith is accepting anything less than the kingdom God wishes to give us.”

So my final question, is how can we develop more faith? How can we grow in trust so that we are able to follow Jesus example and calling to love others better, love our world better?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone, but it starts with spending enough time doing whatever connects you best with God, so you can be rooted in your faith. The stronger and deeper your roots go, the less you will feel the need to cling to other value and priorities that may conflict with God’s kingdom.

Whatever it is, Jesus message is clear – don’t wait – store up for yourselves treasures in heaven – because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – and who doesn’t want a heart in heaven?

Clare Heard