Treasure in Heaven

Matthew writes, “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.”

Luke writes, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Treasure! What does that bring to your mind?

I think of The Count of Monte Christo who finds a great treasure with the instructions of his cellmate given with his dying breath.

People are always giving advice about how to guard wealth. Once you have something of value, you think about how to preserve it. I had a cashmere sweater. Moths found it delicious. “Get a case for that new phone.” “Do you want insurance on that?”

Now we have Jesus giving advice on preserving wealth. He says there is a theft-proof, moth-proof, age-proof wealth. What is it? Luke gives us a start. Give to those who need it. Somehow this will accumulate treasure in heaven.

We can expand on that. What you do, unselfishly, for those in need has heavenly consequences. In another place, Jesus says giving to needs of others is the same as giving to him. He will repay you when the receivers can’t.

Jesus made a very clear statement, “Love one another as I have loved you.” How did he love? He gave people what they wanted, sure. But he was always trying to give them what they really needed.

A woman was condemned by a crowd. Jesus said to her that she was not condemned to a sinful life. She should begin again that moment. To another he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” His problem was that he couldn’t walk. Jesus thought his sins were holding him down. He did heal his body as well. In both situations, the person was at a point where they could listen to Jesus.

Jesus was always stretching the minds of his disciples. Is that our experience? Are we growing in faith? Do our experiences make us stronger?

Our experiences can leave us bitter or they can make us better. When you feel a tug to do good to another, where is that from? Maybe the Spirit of God? Look at Peter. He is requested to go speak in a gentile’s home. He has never done anything like this. But God has reminded him that this gospel is for all people in a dream. He goes. He speaks and things happen that surprise him.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Each generation takes on the work of Christ. If we follow the leading of the Spirit, we join in the works of God. But look how he says it: Put up treasure for yourselves. It takes faith to trust God to reward you. Can an ordinary human act with God? Yes, we, like Christ, like the apostles, are sent by God to do good in this world. What is your part? What is my part? First, we come to him. Then we go with him.

Two things to remember: First, he has given us a place in his kingdom. We are assured of a welcome into the next life. It is called eternal life.

Second, we have a secure place to accumulate wealth! Add to your reward. God is rich. He pours out his wealth of mercy on you and me. Now, share my wealth with others. Be merciful to others.


The Eye

Mathew writes, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.”

Luke writes, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil, your body also is full of darkness.”

How we see things is important. If our vision is distorted, we may easily interpret events badly. How could our vision be distorted? We are speaking now about our attitude.

You see someone doing something. If you don’t trust that person, you might think they are up to no good. But the same thing done by someone you like and trust may seem fine to you. They probably have permission, you think, and are not stealing that item. You might stop the first person and question them about what they are taking. They said you could, huh. No doubt, a lie, you think.

Jesus speaks of ‘the eye’. He doesn’t say ‘eyes’. From this we know he is speaking of something other than simple vision. Also, he tends to speak in spiritual terms while using common examples. The eye is the internal eye. The light is the understanding, through which the soul sees things. What might distort this?

Well, let’s take it in the context of other statements. Judge not, unless you want to be judged.

In the story of Alice in Wonderland, soon after meeting Alice, the Mad Hatter says to Alice, “Your hair wants cutting.” “You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity; “it’s very rude.” Later in the conversation, Alice says to the Hatter, “Nobody asked your opinion.” “Who’s making personal remarks now?” the Hatter asked triumphantly.

We laugh at this because we do the same thing. We watch someone’s behavior who has corrected us to see if they are consistent in this matter. This is the exact meaning of the “Judge not..” statement.

So, a judgmental attitude hurts a relationship. Also, an “eye” which is evil distorts your view of life. Do we want our internal life filled with light? If so, our eye must become good. It must be clear or “single” as Luke says. Let’s quickly look at an event. Jesus healed a man’s eyes. He could see clearly but he could not interpret what he saw correctly. He said, “Men look like trees walking.” Jesus touches him again and he can understand what he sees.

We spend our early days connecting our vision to people and things. We understand that the movement of animals is different that the movement of a battery-operated toy. But here is a step further: We accumulate experiences that may teach us that few people can be trusted. Can we trust a God who is invisible? How can we obtain this clear vision?

Clear vision comes from God. It is maintained by trust in God. Only if we believe God is looking out for us can we relax our guard and see things as they are. We can live with the Spirit of God informing us of danger or leading us to truth. This is much different that taking all the responsibility ourselves which is our natural condition.

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

This means to look beyond what your eye sees. Righteous judgement can only be made with the clear view that Jesus had. Having your “body full of light” means there are no hidden places, no shadows. No suspicions of evil yet never deceived by it. What can lead us to this?

A view soaked in love. Love knows there is evil in the world and those who do it everyday. But this love believes ‘all things’. It believes God is above evil. He is all good and powerful and wise. This is part of the attitude that sees clearly. This loving God cares for his own and protects them.

How is this eye ‘single’? It sees all in one look. It never forgets God in its looking at life. It drops the focus on evil and sees God behind the scene, doing good and believing the best about us. He is the wonder parent that makes no mistakes. He sees us correcting our mistakes, confessing our wrongs and improving in our time here.