Where Is Your Treasure?
"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 moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"(Matthew 6:19-21).
If you ask your family what they treasure most, what will they say? Asking this question will give you a good look into the hearts of your children and allow you to see if they have been captured by the culture… or by Christ. Do your children seem to want the newest items on the market or to have what the other kids have? Do they have compassion for others, a heart for intercession, and a life focused upon serving the Lord? Do the answers tell you something about where their treasure lies?
Perhaps, as you are doing a "treasure" check of your family, you may want to do the same for yourself. You may have every good intention of being a godly example for your children and yet have your heart set upon something that has become an idol in your life. If so, this would be a good opportunity to talk together as a family about what is and/or should be most important to followers of Jesus Christ in this life. God is our Father. He is not the great "depriver of children and adults." He is generous and wants to give us good things; the things that will be the healthiest and best for us, the things that we can use to bring Him the most glory, and the things that have kingdom significance. He allows us to have certain possessions so that we might have compassion and share with those in need. It is when we do not see past our own selfishness and greed that we cannot see the purposes behind what He allows into our lives. When this happens, the Father might choose to give us a nudge or share a lesson with us by allowing us to go through disappointment and deprivation. We are dangerous to ourselves if we always get what we want or think we must have. Pride and selfishness creep into our hearts.
Living Simple Lives
As I have grown older, it has intrigued me that I am increasingly more willing to simplify my life as if in preparation for one day leaving this earth with nothing, because that is the reality. As the years go by, my heart is continually becoming more set upon heaven, and gradually, the Father is teaching me to be content with less "stuff." He is showing me that I must hold on to everything very loosely because none of it will last. There are things I think I need, but find out later that these things were really not necessary, and actually took up much of my time: moving things from place to place, trying to find important papers mixed in with things that really should have been discarded long ago, and endlessly wishing that everything was organized. If you can teach your children organizational skills and how to deal with their "stuff" early on, you will have done them a great favor! Their lives will have more freedom to focus on things that are eternal rather than things that will "burn up." Their treasure will not lie in the things they own or have in their possession, but in the kingdom of God.
Recently, my husband and I moved into a smaller home, and gave away, or got rid of many of our possessions and lots of the "stuff." We don’t miss any of the things we no longer have, and our life has become much less complicated. Outwardly simplifying our lives has been good for us; however, we realized early on that simplifying needed to become an inward discipline before it could become an outward one. Let me explain. It is very possible to simplify as we have done, and yet have nothing change within our hearts that will significantly impact the kingdom of Christ. It is almost dangerous to downsize, as it can lead to self-righteousness and pride if we are not careful. Simplicity is very visible outwardly. People will notice physical lifestyle changes. It is the spiritual changes within the heart that are more subtle but which must be our primary purpose. If my motives for downsizing are so that other people will see my efforts, then my treasure becomes pridefulness. Simplifying our lives by downsizing is not the primary focus. It is possible to live a simpler lifestyle and not be transformed spiritually. However, if our motives for simplifying life are obedience to Christ and seeking Him first, then every other need will be taken care of. Jesus has given us the instructions we need to live lifestyles of simplicity in peace and joy. Perhaps these would be good verses to memorize with your family: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33) and Matthew 6:19-21.
If we don’t seek after the kingdom of God, and make it the primary purpose of our lives, there is no point in simplifying. Getting rid of possessions alone will not make our lives complete and blessed. Only when we simplify for the purpose of spending more time with Jesus and focusing our attention on the kingdom of God will we experience the peace and joy of a balanced life. Our heart can be found where our treasure is. Are the hearts of your family members focused on the treasure that can not be stolen or destroyed?
Learning to Let Go
Letting go is not always easy, particularly for children. Yet, the Lord has clearly shown us in His Word that anything we are more attached to than Him is an idol. There are things and even people who sometimes take precedence over the Lord Jesus in our lives. Many times we aren’t even aware of it. Do you know what things distract you from your first love? Are you aware of what those things are in your children’s lives? Perhaps it’s time to sit down together and take stock of where your treasure lies. Once you are aware of your idols, repentance may be in order. Then, change needs to happen so that your lives can be set free from the bondage of things that are doomed to destruction in favor of the ultimate love which is eternal. Read this passage as a family:
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him" (2 Peter 3:10 -14). Discuss what it means and talk about what needs to happen in your home and your hearts to come into alignment with it.
Scriptures to Study and Apply
If you and your children have been convicted to align your hearts with treasure that is concerned with the kingdom of God, and if you are determined to turn away from the selfishness and greed of our culture which the enemy delights in pressing upon us, here are some Scriptures to strengthen your decision. Read and study these together as a family:
• If we will look for wisdom like hidden treasure, we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
• We must keep ourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
• We are to flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)
• We must repent of our idolatry. (Acts 17:29-30)
• We cannot be saved by our treasure. (Job 20:20)
• We are to give our personal treasures to the work of God! (1 Chronicles 29:3)
• Do not store up things for yourself, but rather be rich toward God. (Luke 12:21)
• Jesus assumes that His people will be givers and even urges us to do it anonymously and in secret. (Matthew 6:2-4)
• God gives wealth that will last. (Proverbs 8:18).
• The fruit of the Lord is better than fine gold. (Proverbs 8:19)
• What the Lord yields surpasses choice silver. (Proverbs 8:19)
• We can amass great wealth and yet everything can be meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11)
• The Lord will be the sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation, and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6)
• If we make idols, we are nothing and the things we treasure are worthless. (Isaiah 44:9)
• Because of sin throughout our country, the Lord will give away our treasures as plunder. (Jeremiah 17:3)
• By our own wisdom and understanding, we have gained wealth…but our hearts have grown proud. (Ezekiel 28:4-5)
• When we find treasure hidden in a field, or find a pearl of great value, we need to sell all that we have to buy it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
• Because we have been instructed about the kingdom of heaven, we must bring out of our storerooms new treasures as well as old. (Matthew 13:52)
• Jesus gave the key to perfection: sell everything and give it to the poor and receive treasures in heaven…then follow Jesus. (Matthew 19:21)
• Be careful, for it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23-24)
• When we give even out of our poverty, we have given much more than those who give out of the excess of what they have. (Mark 12:41-44)
• We must be on guard against all kinds of greed; our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions. (Luke 12:15)
• May believers be encouraged in heart and united in love so that we may have the full riches of complete understanding – to know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. (Colossians 2:2)
• We are to do good and be rich in good deeds; to be generous and willing to share – in this way we will lay up treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that we may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
• The treasure of the Gospel of Christ is within us, jars of clay, so that it is clear that it is by God’s power and not our own. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
• All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. (Colossians 2:3)
• When we are rich in this
present world, we are not to be arrogant nor should we put our hope in wealth,
which is uncertain; instead, we are to put our hope in God, who richly provides
us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17)
If you would like to read more articles by Kim Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.