What Is Most Precious To You
What Is Most Precious To You?
We cannot read the Sermon on the Mount without giving serious consideration to the stewardship of life. It involves a whole lot more than money—it involves what we are, what we have, and what we do with what we have.
In three short verses, Jesus tells us how to make the wisest investment of life. His words are very pertinent to us who have so much. “I have no treasure!” you may protest! You may think you don’t, but you do. It may not be cash on hand, silver or gold, stocks or bonds, houses or lands.
Our treasure is anything we desire most to possess, even if we don’t yet own it; or it’s the thing we fear most to lose, if we already possess it. Jesus’ concern is whatever our affection, our will, our whole being clings to—whatever is most precious to us.
The Two Investment Alternatives
Treasure may be invested in one of two places: on earth or in heaven. There is no other place to invest. Suppose I invest in
A. Treasures on Earth
We need to ask three questions:
1. Is it a sound investment? What’s the worst investment you ever made? Did you recover from it? A financial planner once advised me to invest in rare coins. I should have become wary when he described the investment opportunity as “snake oil.” Talk of a 200 to 400 percent return was too tempting to pass up. Besides, the company guaranteed an annual return of 20 percent if the value of the coins did not increase. A year later the company went bankrupt, and my guarantee was instantly worthless. I learned the first law of investing: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Maybe I’ll recover. Thankfully, it’s possible to make a bad financial investment and recover from it. But choosing to wrong alternative in the investment Jesus talks about, and there’s no promise of an opportunity to recover from the wrong decision: the loss is eternal!
2. Is It Wise? It may seem like a sure thing, but is it really? Can you guarantee against loss? And somebody says, “Of course, we have FDIC!” Every account is insured to $100,000. As long as the federal government has the money to back those accounts, they’re relatively safe.
We may invest and some to the end of our lives having secured every penny we invested. But eventually every single one of us is sure to lose every last penny we’ve ever earned.
If our creditors or inflation or recession or taxes don’t take it away, when death comes every penny, every ounce of treasure we have invested in this world will be left behind. We may take t to the grave, but we can’t take it into eternity! There are no U-Hauls behind hearses. This is why the Bible is so careful to warn us about riches (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
3. Does investing my treasure in earthly things satisfy? Isn’t it true in the material realm that the more we have the more we want? The story is told of a man who was promised all the land around which he could walk from sunrise to sunset. When h thought about it, he decided that he could increase the amount of land to be gained if he would walk at a fast pace. By midmorning he had determined to jog. By midafternoon, even though he hadn’t stopped for lunch or rest, he decided to run as fast as he could to take in even more land by sunset. He kept pushing himself to keep running so he could gain just a few more acres. It will be worth it, he thought. Tomorrow I’ll be a proud landowner. So faster and faster he ran, now bone tired, and sunset was approaching. “I can rest tomorrow,” he said to himself as he kept pushing. Just as the sun set in the west, the man died of a massive heart attack. What had he gained in his attempt to la up more treasure on earth? Nothing!
This story is repeated across our country every day. If your decision is to lay up treasures on earth, then you’ll push yourself to get and gain just a little bit more. But let me ask you something: When you get to where you’re going, where will you be? What will you have? What price will you have paid?
If you’re saying, “Tomorrow, when I reach my goals, or when I retire, then I’ll slow down and enjoy myself; I’ll spend more time with my family; I’ll do more for the Lord in His Church”—tomorrow may never come. That’s why God’s Word tells us, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). Rather, we should make today count.
B. Treasures in Heaven
There is a second alternative. It’s the one Christ wishes we would choose. To be fair, let’s ask some of the same questions of this alternative we asked of treasures on earth.
1. Is it a sound investment? Treasure invested in heaven is safe and secure; moths can’t devour it; rust can’t corrupt it; thieves can’t break in and steal it. It’s immune to the ravages of inflation, recession, or depression. It doesn’t depend on government or what’s happening on the stock market. It doesn’t depend on the value of the currency in foreign markets. When we put our treasure in the bank of heaven, we have treasure not only in a “house not made with hands” (2 Cor. 5:1, KJV) but also within our hearts in the here and now.
2. How do we lay up treasures in heaven? By accepting Christ as Savior and Lord; Seek . . . first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33, KJV).
By loving and loyal obedience to Him. By deeds done for love’s sake, we make eternal investments. Every time we use our time and talents and resources for the Kingdom with the right motive—“all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31)—we make deposits in our heavenly bank account. Laying up treasures on earth is just the opposite, for then we pay ourselves first, instead of God. We put self first in our thoughts, plans, and affections. Everything has to revolve around us and how our needs are met. We place our sense of security on things that are uncertain and insecure. If, for example, I build my security on bank accounts and holdings, what happens if suddenly they are gone? Jesus suggests that it’s much better to invest in things that really count. So it’s really difficult to determine which is
The Wisest Investment Alternative
A. Jesus Encourages Us to Invest Heavily in the Kingdom of God
1. Do we believe in it? We’re always being asked to invest in things we believe in. If you believe in Chris’s kingdom, invest in it with your prayers, service, talents, and money. John Ruskin said, “If you do not wish for His kingdom, don’t pray for it. But if you do, you must do more than pray for it. You must work for it!”—and, I would add, invest in it.
2. Are we doing this? Earthly treasures are just that: earthly. They may be lost, stolen, or rot away. Therefore, they’re risky! But heavenly treasures are spiritual. They are secure because of their nature.
B. Commit to What Is Most Precious to Jesus
1. This involves our money, but not just our money. It includes everything we have: first of all, our hearts (who we are); second, our deeds (all that we do); third, our resources. Are we and all we have available to Him?
2. It’s best to put all your eggs in one basket. Wise investors usually diversify. They don’t put all their eggs in one basket, so that if they lost in one area, they may gain another. But in Gods kingdom, we dare not scatter our investments—that is, put a lot in earth and some in heaven. One realm will dominate; one motivation will rise above the others. Our challenge is “to seek . . . first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33, KJV).
A West African tribe tells the legend of the Sky Maiden. It happened that the people of the tribe noticed their cows were giving less milk than they normally did, and they couldn’t understand why. So a young man volunteered to stay up all night to see what might be happening.
After several hours of waiting in the darkness, hiding in a bush, he saw something extraordinary. A young woman of astonishing beauty rode a moonbeam down from heaven to earth, carrying a large pail. She milked the cows filled her pail, and climbed back up the moonbeam to the sky.
The man couldn’t believe what he had seen. The next night he set a trap near where the cows were kept, and when the maiden came down to milk the cows, he sprang the trap and caught her. “Who are you?” he demanded.
She explained that she was a Sky maiden, a member of a tribe that lived in the sky and had no food of their won. It was her job to come to earth at night and find food. She pleaded with him to let her out of the net, promising that she would do anything he asked. The man said he would release her only if she agreed to marry him.
She promised to marry him is first he would let her go home for three days to prepare herself. Then, she said, “I’ll return and be your wife.”
Three days later she returned, carrying a large box. “I’ll be your wife and make you very happy,” she told him, “but you must promise never to look inside this box.”
For several weeks they were very happy together. Then one day, while his wife was out, the man was overcome with curiosity and opened the box. There was nothing in it. When the woman came back, she saw her husband looking strangely at her and said, “You looked in the box, didn’t you? I can’t live with you anymore.”
“Why?” the man asked. “What is so terrible about peeking into an empty box?”
Then she said, “I’m not leaving you because you opened the box. I thought you probably would. I’m leaving you because you said it was empty. It wasn’t empty; it was full of sky. It contained light and the air and the smells f my home in the sky. When I went home for the last time, I filled that box with everything that was most precious to me to remind me of where I came from. How can I be your wife if what is most precious to me is emptiness to you?”
In a sense, that’s what Jesus is saying to us here. “How can I have a relationship with you if the things that are most precious to Me are not precious to you?