Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Moth Eaten Heart

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." For the longest time when I read that closing line I only saw half the point. I saw the more obvious half. The passage aims to convince us to spend our time and energy building spiritual wealth instead of physical wealth- wealth that will be there to greet us in heaven instead of wealth we must leave behind us as we pass through the portal of death. It reminds us that earthly treasure can be stolen (by thieves) or destroyed (as by moths or rust). It stands to reason that if I set my heart on earthly goods and they are stolen or destroyed, then my heart will be grieved and I will have suffered a great loss. This is the obvious half of Jesus' point. 

What I only just realized the other day is that there is another implication here that I have missed all along. If my heart is with my treasure and the treasure is stolen, then my heart is stolen also. If my heart is with my treasure when it is eaten up and destroyed by moths or rust, then my heart likewise has been eaten up and destroyed. When we set our hearts on the things of this world, we run the risk not only of losing our treasured possessions but of losing our very hearts. I am speaking of course not of the organ pumping blood in your chest but of that part of you that goes to the very core of who you are. When you choose to treasure, love, and put your hopes in the things of this world you become corrupt in your very nature. Riches, the approval of men, fame, sex, and power- these things (and all the others that our world has to offer) have a way of eating away at a person's soul just like moths or rust eat away at a fine garment or a precious metal. Little by little, what we set our heart on changes us. We serve the things which we love most, and when we bend the knee to the gods of this world, they corrupt and destroy who God intended us to be: worshipers of Him alone.

If the threat of suffering such great loss isn't enough to motivate you, then consider this. The Bible reveals to us that this world is not our home. We are merely pilgrims passing through on our way to eternity. The great heroes of the faith are described as understanding this well. 
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
In the same vane I Peter 2:11 says, 
"Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul."
So imagine for example a family who lives in destitute poverty. Their house is in shambles. It does not keep them safe from criminals nor does it keep them warm in the winter. Year round they struggle to survive, scrimping and saving so that one week out of the year they can take an extravagant vacation. They fly off to some exotic location and are waited on hand and foot by the best attendants money can buy. For seven days they live in the lap of luxury only to return home and live in poverty again for another 358 days until the next vacation.

Doubtless there are those in our world that do choose to live their lives this way. There are certainly those who order their spiritual lives like this. We choose to live in luxury while on this journey toward eternity, spending all our time and energy on fleeting pleasures that we can enjoy while on the trip, only to step out into eternity in destitute poverty. Choose the better way. Heed the Lord's advice. Spend your time, money, and energy wisely storing up treasure in heaven and in so doing protect your own heart.

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