Matthew 6:19-21 Eternal Treasures

16 03 2013

 Jesus

(Jesus said:)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin 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 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

What is your “investment strategy” for investing in things that are eternal?

I am not a wealthy woman, at least not in material things, according to the standards of my community.   According to the rest of the world though, I am better off than most.  I have food and clothing, a car to drive, reasonable access to medical care and shelter including indoor plumbing and central heating and air conditioning.  Even though I do not live in poverty today, I do struggle with a deeply ingrained scarcity mentality that began in my youth.

When I got clothing (with few exceptions) it had already been through both older sisters, and it was generally ill-fitting and threadbare by the time it was passed down to me.  I was sickly and weak and sometimes my parents couldn’t afford appropriate medical care or glasses.  There were times that my parents had to make a choice between food and/or scripts or keeping the utilities and mortgage paid.  Everything was always hard won and acquired at the last minute, and even if it was “essential,” you might still have to go without.

poor child

Poverty sucks.  Believe that.

Growing up with scarcity taught me that I didn’t care for going without.  It gave me an intense drive to achieve, to never run out, and to be able to provide myself all the things I could not have as a child.

I came to a point where not only did I earn enough to be able to have the “essentials” (at least most of the time), but to feed my own ego, I had to be the biggest, baddest one around professionally.  It wasn’t even so much about money as it was credibility and prestige.  I wanted to be taken seriously instead of being mocked for being an awkward, badly dressed geek.

The problem with my quest for prestige and professional achievement was that in that pursuit I became cut-throat and ruthless.  I didn’t care about anything but professional success.  I worked 60-80 hours a week.  I did everything I could to make money for my employer as well as I did everything I could to advance myself.

celica

I had a Celica like this at one time.  It was a tasty car.

I didn’t care about anything except professional success- until I had a series of catastrophic health failures.

I have essential hypertension- a severe and pernicious form of high blood pressure that is inherited and extremely difficult to keep controlled.  By age 29 my blood pressure was so out of control (despite being on multiple medications at ridiculously high doses) that I was having bleeds into the scleras of both eyes- where the whites of my eyes would suddenly become blood red.  I also had two incidences of phlebitis in my right leg that were associated  with my uncontrolled blood pressure.  I had severe and constant sinus infections and bronchitis from chain smoking.

sclera bleed

Gross, but this was happening to my eyes pretty regularly from out of control blood pressure.

My health got to a point where at age 30 my family doctor warned me: Change your lifestyle and your outlook and most importantly, your job, or you won’t live to see age 35.

That warning was the tipping point.  I was killing myself- physically, emotionally and spiritually- over what?

By the grace of God He brought me to a realization of what I was doing to myself and to those around me.  I found a different job where it wasn’t necessary for me to be there so many hours, and where I didn’t have the stress of managing employees and dealing with customers face to face all day long.  I suddenly had the time to stop and examine what was really important, and God dealt with me over it.  I knew that after seven years of pig pen living I needed to run back to the Father’s house, including getting back to involvement a Christian community.

Slowly and eventually God brought me to my church.  He led me to become free of a long standing addiction to cigarettes.  He got me to the point where I wasn’t so obsessed with work. My health improved, but more importantly my focus changed.

It’s not about my personal status or my personal ability to provide for myself.  It’s not about me at all.  Sola Dei Gloria.  She with the most toys doesn’t necessarily win, and acquiring toys that I can’t take with me is pretty much pointless anyway.

I still have issues with scarcity mentality.  Sometimes I get so worried and afraid about what I can’t do, instead of trusting God.  Unbelief is a sin.  God help my unbelief.

Love God, love other people, and love myself.  It sounds easy in theory, but in practice I can only do these things by the grace of God.

love of god

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