Monday, June 19, 2017

Buried Treasure: Matthew 6: 19-24

I was raised in the city. But every year, we went to visit my country cousins in Hartwell, Georgia. It was a fun time—for them. They loved to put me doing farm work, and laughed when I did it wrong.  Once, I rode with them on a manure truck spreading “fertilizer” over a hayfield. They told me how to use a pitchfork --“Always use an overhand sling!”  When most of it came down on my head, they thought this was hilarious. 
One thing I learned that day was that farmers have a great respect for manure. City folks have no use for it, my cousins had a whole truckload of it.   The stuff makes wonderful fertilizer. In some countries, bat manure used to be almost as valuable as gold. Fortunes have been made and wars fought over bird manure. If you know how to use it, even manure can be a treasure.
A treasure doesn’t have to be gold or silver. It can be whatever we treasure. For a farmer, it can be manure; for a carpenter, it can be old logs; for a scholar, it’s a stack of dusty books, for a drug dealer it’s a suitcase full of poison. Whatever we find value in becomes a treasure to us. 
You can tell a lot about a person by looking at what they collect. If a man is collecting manure, he’s probably a farmer. If he is buying a lot of books, he’s probably a scholar. If he is buying crack, he must be a drug addict. The treasures we seek reveal the nature of our heart.
Treasures come in two kinds—primary and secondary treasures. Primary treasures are the things we actually desire, and are usually intangible like health, joy, well-being, love, or a sense of security. These are the things which give meaning to our lives.  
Secondary treasures are the things we want in order to get our primary treasures. Farmers really don’t want manure, but they collect it, so that they can get good crops, and feed their families. A scholar collects books to gather the knowledge in them. A junkie steals money to buy drugs, so he can ease his own pain. Money is a secondary. It’s like manure—its only value comes when we spread it around. This is true of most of what we call treasure in life. We only seek it because we want something else.   
But here’s the problem--we spend so much time collecting secondary treasures that we forget what our primary treasures are. We keep collecting money, but we don’t know why. We gain knowledge for no reason. We keep partying to ease our pain, but we have forgotten the pain we were trying to ease. The things we seek for some reason become an end in themselves. The treasures of the heart are buried under a pile of secondary.    
We have forgotten the hidden treasures of the heart. But if we would be happy, healthy and whole, we must rediscover them. These buried treasures are the basic values, hopes, and dreams that are behind all we do in life.  
The spiritual life is like a treasure hunt. We must dig down deep inside of us to find out the one thing that really gives our lives purpose and meaning.
In the movie City Slickers there is a scene where Billy Crystal asks an old cowboy, “What is the meaning of life?  He answers “One thing.”
“What’s that?” Crystal asks.
“That’s for you to find out.” He replies.
 Our buried treasure is one thing. It is never two things. Jesus says in verse 24,
 “No man can serve two masters. He will either love the one and hate the other, or love the other and hate the one.”
 In order to be whole, we must seek a single thing, and find it. A person with two treasures can never be happy, because he or she will be double minded. Something must come before everything else. 
  So how do we find out what that one thing is, that buried treasure? Here are some things Jesus says are key to finding our buried treasure.
1. Your true treasure is what you choose over and over again.
We can always find our buried. We can find it, because we buried it! Over a period of a lifetime, we have been slowly putting away what is most important into the very core of our existence.
Jesus says our treasure is what we “lay up.”  “Lay up” means to conserve, hide away, or put into savings. It’s in the “progressive imperative” case—not a one-time choice, but something we choose consistently, over and over. The really valuable things we don’t choose once, but we must choose daily.
How do we spend our money? Most people spend money for today with no thought for tomorrow. They make a one-time choice to buy something silly, and have nothing left for the future. 
But if the things we treasure are larger than a new dress or a new television, then we must save for it. We must regularly choose to lay up part of our paycheck, to buy something more valuable. Every day, over and over, we choose a new house over a fancy meal, or latest video game. Savings start with a choice, but becomes a habit.
How do we spend our time? You can sit and watch YouTube cat videos or binge-watch your favorite show, but at the end of the day you wonder where your time has gone. Or you can spend time on something more worthwhile like studying, exercising, devotions, or making friends. Wasting time is a one-time choice. Using time wisely is a regular habit.
 How do we spend our energy?  If you only have a little energy, what are you doing with it?  You can burn it fighting, fretting and grumbling, or you can invest it in exercise, which makes more energy. We choose to spend the little energy we have making more energy on a habitual basis.
Whether you do it consciously or not, you are laying away your treasure in what you consider important. The problem is that what we invest our time in is not worth having. It breaks down too fast. We are like people who lays away raw fish and then act surprised when we discover they smell. We have laid away the wrong treasure, so it is gone before we can collect it.
2. Your true treasure is either earthly or heavenly---but not both.
Do not lay up your treasure on earth---but lay it up in heaven?
 Just laying up time, money, or energy isn’t enough. All of those are the treasures of the earth. Invest in heaven, not on earth. Spiritual things last. Earthly things don’t last.
 Every day, when you get out of bed, you choose whether you are going to dedicate this day to the pursuit of God or to something else. Laying up buried treasure is what we do when we choose to put God first in our lives on a daily habitual basis.
Everything on earth—fame, fortune, wealth, health, friendship, security—will never last. Moths eat clothes. Rust destroys iron. Thieves steal our possessions. Our smart phones and computers will all wind up in a landfill somewhere. There is no assurance that any treasure on earth will last. 
Jack La Laine and Charles Atlas were body builders who were incredibly physically fit, who owned gyms all over the country. They both made fortunes selling physical fitness, based on their own magnificent bodies. They are both dead now. The bodies that they treasured ceased functioning. Einstein and Isaac Newton were great geniuses. But now, those massive rains have ceased to function. Vanderbilt was an incredibly rich man--you visit his magnificent Biltmore estate. But he’s dead, and owns nothing today. Elvis and Michael Jackson will sing no more. All their greatness died with them.
If you want a treasure that will last, lay it up in heaven. Make a choice of a daily in the pursuit of godliness. Make the pursuit of God your meaning in life. Nothing—not family, not security, not status or prestige—will ever be worth more than Godliness. It is the only thing that survives forever.

3. You find your treasure when you find where your heart is. 
For where your treasure is, that is where your heart is.” 

What does Jesus mean by “heart?” Forget the Western understanding of “heart” as the seat of the emotions. “Heart” in ancient thought is more than just what we feel. Heart” refers not only to the emotions but to the focus of our inner being. It includes the mind as well as our feelings.

In this passage Jesus talks about the focus of our eyes—being singly fixed on something. That is closer to what He means by “heart.” You know your treasure, because you are always looking right at it. You may not feel it, but it is right before you. 

Children think of feelings as something that cannot be changed. If they hate vegetables, they think they will always hate vegetables. If they like cartoons, they will always like cartoons. But as we grow in maturity we discover that our feelings are always changing. Feelings are probably the most changeable thing about us. We can’t change our height or our eye color, but we can change how we feel about things. the time. If we only go by feelings, then we will never develop any good habits.

Just keep your focus on the God, not the things of earth. Keep Him before you by choosing habitually to pay attention to Him. 

Focus on God to achieve what we want in life.  Primary treasures can be realized in more than one way. If you want happiness, then trust God for it instead of money. All you need you can achieve it by focusing on God first. 
The human eye is not as good as we think it is.  There is only one small part of our vision—the focal point—that we really see well. Our heart has a focal point as well. It is there where we find our buried pleasure. The focal point of our lives is like the “X” on a treasure map. It is where we find our buried treasure. But to keep that focus, we need to keep our minds riveted on Christ in worship, prayer, and devotion. 

Pay attention to Jesus, and keeping Him at the center of our focus. That’s what it means to lay up our treasure in God.
·         Studying Him. Read His Word and learn about Him daily.   

·         Seeking His Presence. Spend time working on your relationship with God.   

·         Obey Him first. God must be our master. Put the service of Him above all others.

What is your treasure? Real treasure is what you have buried within you. It’s time to dig it up and see how it is doing.

 Let God be the treasure that your heart craves. 

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