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The Christian's Response to Riches and Anxiety

(Matthew 6:19-34)

Lesson 12 -- second quarter 1996
May 19, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

Why do people lay up treasures on earth?
What constitutes laying up treasures on earth?
How shall we lay up treasures in heaven?

Stock markets crash. Banks fail. Property deteriorates. Money devalues. Houses burn. Collectibles crack, chip, tear, fade and break. Toys lose their attraction and collect dust. Termites eat books. Businesses go bankrupt. Thieves help themselves. Vandals make mayhem. Owners (stewards, we know) die! Why do people lay up treasures on earth?!

Value. If we have nothing greater to value, then stuff of earth seems valuable and important indeed. Once we have tasted the things that really amount to something, the most enticing things here seem quite dull and tinny.

Perspective. People who don't consider the real future (eternity) consume their lives living for a pseudo-future (5-50 years down the road). Therefore, their frame of reference is limited to that which fits their limited perspective--earthly stuff.

Purpose. For what do you live? Fame. Comfort. Convenience. Status. Novelty. Financial independence. Economic security. Material abundance. Keeping up with or ahead of "them." Those who live for any of these things naturally lay up treasures on earth. Those who live to prepare themselves and others for eternity have limited place and patience for temporal mirages.

Can you think of any good, laudable reason for laying up treasures here on earth?

I possess a computer, two vehicles, some furniture and appliances, books, clothes, bikes, tools and so forth. Have I laid up treasures on earth? Defining this business of laying up earthly treasures is difficult and ticklish indeed!

Why be radical? Why rock the boat? We don't want people to write us off as fringe types. We don't want people to think we are unreasonable. And we are certainly reluctant to condemn ourselves. (Besides, we do enjoy the stuff we have . . . and wouldn't mind too much adding this or that to the collection yet!)

Well, look. I'll go out on a limb (after all, isn't that where the fruit grows?). Maybe if I give it a good shake, some of the dead wood will fall free and we can make a fire to warm our cold feet. Or maybe the ripe fruit will drop down where the needy can feed on it.

If something I have distracts me from serving the Lord and others, I have laid up treasures on earth. If own something exclusively for its esthetic beauty, I have laid up treasures on earth. If I own something mostly because I could afford to buy it, I have laid up treasures on earth. If I own something because I need to protect myself from potential future indigence, I have laid up treasures on earth. If I have more than I truly need, I am in peril of laying up treasures on earth.

That's a good beginning, I think. Take it from there!

I challenge you to search the Scriptures for the answers to the third question. I think you'll be amazed by what you will find.

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