“Wow! That’s a really long line! I sure hope it moves fast.”
I assured my husband that on our first visit to London we weren’t going to worry about time and lines. We wanted to see the Crown Jewels!
And then… there they were… in all of their splendor: crowns, scepters, plates, goblets and other royal regalia! All safely behind bombproof glass. Obviously these were “treasured” treasures!
I have things I treasure. Oh they’re not even close to the monetary value of what we viewed at the Jewel House. But they’re important to me. They are what I cherish, adore, love, am devoted to.
Some of them are actual people… my husband and children; close friends and family; my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Other treasured things are memories, events, relationships, opportunities. Those are the treasured things Mary was thinking about that first Christmas night (Luke 2:19). Later she again pondered and treasured the events surrounding her son’s absence and then finding Him in His Father’s house conversing with the teachers (Luke 2:51). I too have life events I treasure: marriages, births, baptisms, and any number of milestones that I’ve witnessed and been part of.
My material treasures are minimal. Those are the things I would grab if I had to evacuate our house at a moment’s notice: family photos, especially the only existing wedding portrait of my husband’s grandparents.
Other people, however, have incredible treasures of jewels, gold, silver, art objects and other valuables. These are always targets for thieves and swindlers and they have to be carefully guarded.
Buried or sunken treasures capture our attention and curiosity. Treasure maps and navigation charts that point to possible untold riches are the stuff of movies and books. Characters in the stories will go to untold lengths to find treasures and willingly give up just about anything, including their health and their very lives, for the chance of possessing wealth. When these discoveries become actual news events, our imaginations take over as we vicariously root for the treasure hunters.
One such treasure seeker is currently in jail, refusing to divulge where he has buried the valuables he retrieved from a sunken ship. Because he won’t share the millions of dollars’ worth of treasure with his investors, he first spent two years hiding out under an assumed identity and now remains a prisoner. I can only wonder what the point of having treasure is when he doesn’t have his freedom.
What does God say about treasures? He called His chosen people Israel His treasured possession (Deut. 7:6). Isaiah speaks of God being the source of the treasures of wisdom, knowledge and salvation (33:6), those treasures that were revealed in the Christ when He came to earth (Col. 2:2-3).
But the sternest warnings about earthly treasures came directly from Christ, our Lord Jesus. We are not to focus on accumulating material valuables that can be stolen or destroyed. We are to treasure those heavenly things that will last forever… our love for God and our neighbor, our faith in the saving grace of Jesus, our determination to listen to God’s voice and not be distracted by the temptations of this transient life. And especially we are to treasure our devotion to reaching others with the message of hope and reconciliation with God. That’s where our treasure and our hearts should be (Mat. 6:19).
Unfortunately my life on this earth too often is the treasure I focus on, put my energy and time into, to the neglect of my Lord. Even the people I treasure can be a cause for concern when I think of God’s questioning of my devotion, my worship. Like Peter, who was already becoming distracted after seeing the risen Christ (see John 21), I can get lost in my everyday pleasures and responsibilities. While I don’t turn to fishing as Peter did, I do immerse myself too often in activities that draw me away from the focus I need if I truly cherish my Lord. I can hear His voice asking me, as He asked Peter: “Do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15)
My answer should be direct and sure. Like the persons in the parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Worth (Matt. 13:44-45) I too must be willing to sell, to give up everything (and yes that includes relationships!) for Jesus and the sake of the treasure of being part of God’s kingdom.
Three of my favorite hymns talk about the treasure that really matters. The best reminders are in these lines: “Jesus, priceless Treasure, source of purest pleasure, dearest Friend to me” and “I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold” and “What is the world to me! My Jesus is my Treasure, my Life, my Health, my Wealth, my Friend, my Love, my Pleasure, my Joy, my Crown, my All.”
Whether I have an abundance of treasure or little according to the world’s standards, whether my treasures are material or are the intangibles that fill my life, God is asking me to keep in mind that all can disappear in a flash.
And what remains is what is dearest to Him… my heart… resting securely in the hands of my Savior… the heart that hasn’t always perfectly treasured my God but is filled with the joy of being forgiven.