That awful moment you arrive home and realise you’ve been burgled. It happened once when the kids were young. Drawers open, rifled. My jewellery box pillaged, most of its worthless contents scattered around. My engagement ring on the floor, discarded as it had lost its stone. My grandmother’s jade ring! The only piece of value I possessed, was gone. It’s an empty feeling.
“It’s OK mum, I’ve got your ring. I was playing with it this morning, and it was in the toy box under my bed!” And so there it was, safe! We did lose a few things that day, but nothing noteworthy – to be honest we didn’t possess that much worth stealing!
Burglary aside, should I have valued the ring more? Should my daughter have had access to such a valuable piece? Should it have been left in a toy box? Curiously, if I had guarded it more closely, we’d have lost it!
Jesus warned us not to store up treasure on earth, where it can be spoilt or stollen, but to store up our treasures in heaven, where they are always safe (Matthew 6:19-21). In our western culture of plenty, it’s hard to work out what this means in practise. Was Jesus advocating living on the bread-line, giving away everything other than basic essentials? Should we empty our bank accounts and renounce having any valuable ‘stuff’ around us? Yes, if that’s what God is telling you.
But at the very least, imagine yourself in your rocking chair at the end of your days. What will you then think the most important things in your life? Was it that you had a fat bank account, or that you made other people happy? The precious thing a child dropped and broke – will it still sting that you lost it? Or will it be more important that you comforted the child, and kept a good relationship with them? Will you even remember the thing you lost? That I sponsored a child right through his education, that will matter. Will the world be better because I was here?
Stuff will always be that – just stuff. Unless we choose to apportion it a greater value. As with my grandmother’s ring, if you hold too tightly, you can lose out. If we hold lightly, share willingly, and value people more, no-one can steal that away from us. That is treasure in heaven.