There is a certain theme we find within the preaching of Jesus: a theme of treasures of the heart. Just about everyone has such treasures. For some it is property and possessions. For some it is family and friends. For others, it might be some favorite activity or pastime. Jesus had quite a bit to say about such treasures of the heart in relationship to Christianity and the church.
Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a great treasure hidden in a field, worth selling everything for. (cf. Matthew 13:44) In like-manner, Jesus advised one young man, ““If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21; ESV)
Elsewhere, speaking more generally to the population at large, He told us, “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; ESV)
Jesus knew that not everyone would take His advise. He spoke of a foolish wealthy farmer, who died lost, and whose soul was called to judgment. Jesus said concerning the matter, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21; ESV)
Are we willing to ask ourselves how well we are applying the teachings of Christ to our own selves? What are those things we are each individually treasuring? The things Christ teaches us to treasure are not the same things that the world at large would have us treasure.
The Bible teaches: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17; ESV) The NKJV renders it “behold, all things are new.” We are further taught, not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (cf. Romans 12:2) If we, after coming to Christ, are still treasuring all the same old things we treasured before we came to Christ, what exactly is new? If our thinking, post-Christ, is still focused on the very same goals we were focused on pre-Christ, then where is the transformation of the mind? Are we deceiving ourselves into thinking that Christ wants us craving worldly treasures and will bless us as we ignore His clear instructions?
There are admittedly, some individuals, preachers even, who teach that God wants you to treasure worldly things. They advocate a “gospel” of wealth and health. They encourage their followers to pray for more money, to visualize themselves in larger houses, and to set their mind on earthly treasures. It is not surprising that such preaching is often quite popular.
But it is, most assuredly, not what Christ taught. Jesus never encouraged His disciples to pray for more money, and He certainly never taught them that God wanted them to have a bigger house in this world. The Bible has a word to describe the thinking of those who are focused on gaining worldly treasures. That word is “covetousness.” Of such thinking, Jesus warned to be on our guard against covetousness, and His apostle wrote to the church, teaching that covetousness was merely another form of idolatry (cf. Luke 12:15; Colossians 3:5)
Rather than urging men to focus on treasures here on earth, Jesus emphasized a new set of treasures. He emphasized a proper relationship with God, based on righteousness, love, and mercy. He taught us to seek after an eternal inheritance, kept in heaven for the faithful and the saved. He taught that the spiritual family to be found in the church was of more value and worth than the physical family we experienced on earth (cf. Mathew 12:50; 19:29) (Though in this regard, the best, the Bible teaches, is when physical and spiritual family are one and the same – cf. Ephesians 6:1-4; 3 John 1:4) He taught us that there was no lasting value to our physical blessings, except and in so far as we used them to obtain spiritual blessings through service to God.
If we wish to be New Creations in Christ Jesus, we do well to recognize, this means setting our minds and hearts on a new kind of treasure; for so long as we continue to chase after the old treasures of the world, we are failing to lay up those eternal treasures that Christ died to give us.
If you would like to learn more about the treasures Christ truly wants to give you, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.