For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Whatever we consider to be of value – whether money, friends, possessions, opportunity, abilities, or whatever – commands more than just our interest. Our minds become focused on it and our emotions become attached to it.
Often we realize only too late how precious something was to us – like the death of a close family member, or the loss of a son or daughter, makes us suddenly realize how precious this person was to our hearts, and makes us wish we had spent more time with them.
These words of Christ followed His warnings against hypocritical religious observances of His day, where someone prayed loudly to be heard of men, not of God, or fasted with moanings and groanings, so that others would notice him and say, “Oh, how devout he is!” Or gave in such a way that others would be impressed with him – not because he was moved with pity for the needy or with piety toward God. Such attitudes are common enough in our world as well, and must be constantly guarded against in our hearts.
So, what does the Christian cherish above all other things? The list would be long indeed, but certain things rise to the top.
First, the kingdom of God: His rule and reign in our lives and in the world, His will to be done on this earth as it is in heaven, and this includes that people may know of His love, that the gospel be preached and souls be saved and God be loved and His name be honored.
Second, we should love His Word: We cannot separate these things entirely from one another, for if we desire His kingdom to come, then it must come through the preaching and teaching of His Word. But we can tell if we love His Word by how much we depend on it, how much we read it and meditate on it.
Third, we should love His Church: Christians must love one another, and support one another. We often grow weary of putting up with the weaknesses found in the body of Christ, and we can take offense to criticisms and slights or even insults. But if we can see each believer and each fellowship as the redeemed of God, if we can understand that Christ died for them and loves them, if we will let the Spirit of Christ teach our hearts to love the things He loves, then we will see the treasure God has in each and in every church and Christian.
From these loves comes other loves – loving the world because of God’s love for the world, loving our family dearly because God has given them to us. Some do love pleasure too much, I am afraid. Some do love being the center of attention. Some do love praise and money and power. But we as followers of Christ are not to let these things capture our hearts.
J.P. Morgan was so wealthy that he had twice personally rescued the U.S. government from financial disaster. But he was also a man of faith, and placed in his last will and testament these opening lines that reveal where his treasure really was:
I commit my soul into the hands of my Saviour, in full confidence that having redeemed it in His most precious blood He will present it faultless before the throne of my Heavenly Father; and I entreat my children to maintain and defend, at all hazard, and at any cost of personal sacrifice, the blessed doctrine of complete atonement for sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, once offered, and through that alone.
Someone once said, “I don’t think I love money, but I really, really like it!” I suppose we all “like” money a lot – as well as many other things. But all of these competing “loves” and “likes” must be placed under the Lordship of Christ. He must come first, and He comes first in the sense that nothing else is second.
What about our spouses and our families? Good question. I have found that the more I love God the more love for my wife and children, and grandchildren and family, the Lord gives me. Loving God helps prioritize every other love in our life.