Pastor Jean Newell, Sun Lakes United Methodist Church
The young rabbi Jesus had traveled throughout Galilee, proclaiming and teaching about the Kingdom of God. He and His followers gathered on a hillside and as more and more came to hear, Jesus told them of God’s blessings, taught them how to pray, and encouraged them to live a life pleasing to God.
Jesus taught them saying, “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).”
Jesus wanted His listeners to really think about their priorities, about what was most important in their lives, what they treasured. In the Ancient East, many treasured elaborate clothing as a reflection of their wealth. For others, their treasure was tied up in the grain stored in the family storage bins. Then again, many times families kept their treasures hidden away in their homes.
I can only imagine that for many who were listening to the young rabbi, Jesus’ words may have made them uncomfortable as He called to them to reassess their lives. The Greek word brosis, translated “rust,” literally means to be “eaten by moths.” Therefore, when Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy,” in essence He was saying clothing could be eaten – destroyed by moths – while treasured grain could be destroyed by rats and vermin. As far as storing treasures in the home, thieves could dig through the mud and clay walls, break in and steal the hidden treasure.
On that afternoon long ago, Jesus was asking His listeners not to hold tight to their treasures, for material wealth can be destroyed or stolen. He urged them to let go of that wealth – to give it away – and in doing so, they would store up treasures for themselves in heaven. For truly, whatever meant the most to His listeners, whatever they treasured in life, would reflect the desires of their hearts.
Centuries later, what might Jesus say today? Might He tell us not to put our wealth in earthly treasures such as clothes, electronic devices, cable TV, the pool in the backyard, or a fancy car – all things that can be lost in the winds of a hurricane or a raging fire or a roaring flood or a head-on collision? Might Jesus urge us to give of our wealth? Give that others hungering to know God might hear the Good News? Give, as Christ did, that others may know of God’s unconditional love and never-ending grace? What might Jesus be saying to you? Where might your treasures be found?