First Things First
What do you think of when you hear the word, treasure? Do you think of lost treasure? Treasure Island? Buried treasure? The Goonies is a story set in Astoria, OR. The Goonies are a group of teenagers who race to beat the Fratellis, a family of criminals, to the lost treasure of “One-eyed” Willie. I watched this movie over and over as a kid, eventually memorizing every line. There has always been an attractiveness to finding treasure. I think about the Titanic. Lost at sea. Discovered seventy-three years after its maiden and final voyage. How exciting – and sobering – it must be to dive to the ocean floor and view the wreckage of this magnificent vessel. Treasures of the past, preserved in a watery grave. But what some see as opportunity to make a buck, others see as a sacred resting place. To some, these precious artifacts are treasures for the taking. To others, they are treasures that should remain untouched. And there are still others who would see these items as no treasure at all, but items from the past representing the lives of those who suffered on that fateful April night.
What is treasure? How do we determine what our treasure is? Our treasure is more determined by what we do than by what we say. It’s easy to say what’s important to us. But what we do shows what’s really important. We must realize that being a Christian is not about us. Being a Christian is all about God. Some today would argue that Christianity is all about us, that everything revolves around us and our happiness. Some would even suggest that our gathering for worship isn’t really about God, it’s really about us. The wife of a popular televangelist said these words during a worship assembly:
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we're not doing it for God—I mean, that's one way to look at it—we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself…”
“…when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really.” The sad reality is that many today have reached a point in their lives where the only thing that matters to them is their own happiness. They conclude that really God just wants them to be happy. This thought affects every other aspect of their lives – career, relationships, and particularly marriage. Ultimately, it all comes down to a question of our treasure. Jesus addresses our treasures as he teaches his disciples a lesson regarding the heart.
“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, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Jesus teaches that treasures should not be laid up on earth. In this, Jesus is not suggesting we fail to work or provide for our own families. Certainly, Paul speaks to this when he writes to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household. he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Jesus is plainly teaching that treasures should be laid up in heaven. Treasures laid up in heaven are lasting. They cannot rust or be stolen. Treasures in heaven are true treasures. The words of Jesus in Luke 12:15 are instructive, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
The real issue is a matter of the heart. Treasures reveal our heart. We end up doing what is important to us. Our priorities reveal our heart. Where is your treasure? What is important to you? Do you set as a priority the will of God for your life? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). That quote again – “So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself…” Bible Professor and author, David Wallace, said in response to this statement, “How we treat one another, how we honor God, what our understanding of and commitment to the gospel is, and how we measure true success all need a serious overhaul. The root problem seems to be twofold: the marginalization of the word of God and the ‘buddy-ization’ of Jesus Christ.”
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Is God’s way important to you? Is it evident in your life? Or have you been caught in the trap of marginalizing the word of God and reducing Jesus to simply another one of your many buddies? Christianity is not about us. Christianity is all about God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s make sure we put first things first.