by Randy Bushey, September 26, 2016
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
Economists speak of the subjective theory of value: value is appraised very differently depending on the circumstances and perceived needs of the person evaluating.
Have you ever thought that if your home was engulfed by flame, but you had time to retrieve only one item, what it would be?
This mental exercise demonstrates that value is highly personal and subjective; the spectrum of options is usually narrowed down to a photo, an item of historical family significance, or something by which a deceased loved one is remembered – all objects that others may appraise as valueless.
Example #1 – If I was to offer my young grandchildren either an original Rembrandt painting of a biblical theme to hang on their bedroom wall, or a trip to McDonalds, to them that would be what is often called a “no-brainer” – in this case, in more ways than one. An opportunity to experience a smoothie, burger and fries in that cacophonous environment would win 20 times out of 20!
Example #2 – I well remember one night at Youth Group decades ago, an older friend joined our group of teens in the church basement. His ashen expression indicated trauma, and we giggled when he told us his car – one of the humblest forms of transportation in which any of us had ever ridden – had just been stolen from the church parking lot. But the real cause for his concern: in an era well before the age of personal computers, he anguished that the only copy of his Masters’ thesis on which he had been working for many months, was in the trunk of that stolen vehicle!
And value can be hidden in unusual places.
Example #3 – part of the lore of our family history involves a sometimes cantankerous (an important family trait) old man refusing to entrust his funds to the bank. He rather hid tens of thousands of dollars in a rickety, tinder-dry chicken coop. (The chickens had no idea of the wealth in which they lived.)
Jesus related 2 brief parables only to His disciples, demonstrating that God too has a value system.
Much of His teaching about the Kingdom evidenced that when compared to God’s values, ours are badly misaligned. Those objects, experiences and relationships in which we place maximum premium confirm we possess a distorted ability to discern genuine – and eternal – worth.
Our natural default setting overvalues what is temporary and diminishing, and undervalues what is everlasting, holding authentic value forever.
And so Jesus described in parable form, what it is to focus on a single object as having preeminent, dominant worth.
The first parable is but a single verse: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field (Matthew 13:44).
In a land and era of great political uncertainty as the clouds of war or civil unrest appeared on the horizon, money and other objects of value were often secretly buried, to be recovered by the owners when the storm blew over.
Sometimes, those owners did not survive, or never returned. And the treasure continued to lie hidden until accidentally discovered by another.
That person immediately knew the field held far more value, than what others – including the owner – unaware of the hidden wealth, would assess.
Consequently, he was prepared to liquidate everything to purchase the property, because by carrying out the transaction, he would be instantly far richer.
The second parable illustrates a similar theme. However, rather than stumbling across a lost treasure, the character is a merchant, deliberately scouring the markets to find his cherished object.
When he discovered the article of his quest, nothing he owned was worth keeping as he disposed of all to acquire the prize: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45,46).
So, what are we to learn?
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, my chief objective is to please the King. My values must align with His. I must love what He loves, hating what He hates.
The Scripture is clear: of all that the Father treasures, He most values His Son. In His Kingdom, Christ is of preeminent, dominant, ultimate worth.
May my life increasingly reflect His system of values.
Takeaway: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
~ image by Carola Diessen, Freeimages.com