October 28, 2003 • By Ed Wrather
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.
California’s Gov. Gray Davis estimates the cost of the fires in his state at $2 billion dollars and says, “I think this is the worst disaster the state has ever experienced.” The blaze in San Diego County has killed 12 people and Sheriff Bill Kolender says, “Many who died ignored evacuation orders and were caught by flames because they waited until the last minute to flee.” Kolender warns, “When you are asked to leave, do it immediately. Do not wait.”
Many residents because of the fire’s unpredictable nature only had minutes to evacuate. If you only had 15 minutes or in some cases even less to evacuate, what would you take with you? One man in three minutes time grabbed a 110-year-old lamp, some clothes, laptop computer, some power tools and took off with his wife three dogs and a cat. The consensus of those I heard talking about it today appeared to think they were blessed just to be alive and had little concern for the “stuff” that they had lost. Many echoed the thoughts of one family in a Red Cross shelter who lost their home saying, “It's in God's hands. There's no point in getting hysterical. We'll just start over.”
Hearing the heart wrenching stories of those who barely escaped the firestorm in California helps us to realize again, what is really important in life. All of this “stuff” that we accumulate will someday be gone. We may hope that our children and grandchildren will care about some of the “stuff” we have spent a lifetime collecting but the reality is that it could all just end up in a trash dumpster. Jim Elliott, a missionary who gave his life while serving his Lord once wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The Psalmist said, “Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him (Psalm 49:16-17).”
The spiritual reality is that only that which is of eternal value will last. Jesus urges us to store up our treasures in Heaven where moth, rust and thieves cannot destroy them. Surprisingly Christians give only three percent of their after tax income to Christian causes. We are apparently buying a whole lot of “stuff” with our income that will never make it to Heaven. Where are you storing up your “treasures?” Where is your “heart?”