A fun fact about me: I moved into the house I grew up in when I was 4 months old and didn’t move out til I got married at age 20. My family had our fair share of re-modeling, room switching, and yard sales to liven things up but we never actually moved. I love this about my childhood. I know for many families that would be a great luxury, so I count it a blessing.
Another fun fact (which I think is true of many newlyweds): Since John and I got married we have moved every year.
Needless to say, I got a crash course in moving after getting married and it’s been a bittersweet experience. I’ve learned alot, grumbled alot, dropped a lot of boxes, wrapped enough vases and plates in enough bubblewrap to encompass the state of Rhode Island, and laughed a whole bunch during the process (usually at John). It’s also proved to be a very humbling experience.
There’s something oddly revealing about moving, especially when you’re blessed with people to help you. As John and I have observed countless friends and family members haul our stuff up stairs, down stairs, onto and off truck beds, around tight corners, and through narrow doorways, we have to stop and think: is all this stuff necessary?
I’m not trying to make the case that we should downsize to two clean pairs of underwear, a sofa, a handful of pots and pans, three change of clothes, and our Bibles. Although, John may become a big advocate of that idea once we begin the loading and unloading process in our impending move. It just gets me thinking: What does the Bible say about all this stuff?
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
– Proverbs 15:16 –
John is a full-time seminary student who tutors part time and I work as a receptionist for a non-profit. Looking at our life situation I would say we don’t qualify as having “great treasure.” But that really isn’t true, we’re some of the wealthiest people in the world! Living in a city has taught us a lot about toeing the line between minimalism and materialism. We can look at one corner of the city and say, “Man. They live on so little.” then drive about 800ft to the next block and think, “Dang. They live on too much.” How do we, in the midst of these extremes, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1)?
Moving our life from home to home always puts it into perspective for me. John and I are moving tomorrow and we have tried to be thorough with packing and purging and pitching our possessions (YES alliteration!). While I stop to observe the countless objects we haven’t touched in a year I wonder at my inability to let some of it go. If that lip gloss is fermenting on the side of the tube and those pants haven’t seen the light of day since I bought them on a whim in the department store, why do I feel compelled to keep them?
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and 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.
– Matthew 6:19-20 –
I really appreciate when Jesus makes things so easy to understand. There’s no parable parsing needed for His teaching here: stuff on earth is going to be destroyed or stolen, stuff in heaven cannot be touched. So don’t store up a bunch of rusty stuff on earth for other people to pick through when you could be accumulating the untouchable, immovable treasures in heaven. And really, when we get to heaven, Jesus will be the most marvelous treasure. Can you imagine being in the presence of God? It’s overwhelming! It certainly makes that lip gloss and those wrinkled pants extremely underwhelming.
The passage continues to it’s most quoted verse:
For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.
– Matthew 6:21 –
Here’s a test of what’s in your heart’s treasure chest:
If your home caught on fire and you had 2 minutes to grab things, what would you grab?
John’s answer is – My wife, laptop, phone, wallet, and Bible (and now it’s probably the cat too, although she’s been more of a menace than a help during the moving process… so her rescue would probably depend on her recent behavior)
My answer is – Welp, John’s got me so I don’t have to grab him, I’ll go for my purse, my Bible, and my scrapbooks.
So it looks like we value: each other (awww), our personal information/ID/money, God’s Word (we are SO holy), and our memories… oh and Clara. That pesky little furball.
This leads me to wonder, should I purge everything down to the bare necessities of life? Is that the most “Christian” way of living and of avoiding the snare of materialism? But as I read over v.21 I notice that Jesus isn’t focusing on the amount of stuff or “treasure” but on the location of that treasure.
The real question isn’t about how much stuff you own or how many boxes you pack. It’s a question of how you live and who you live for. Do you live as someone who longs for the riches of heaven or are you “striving after wind” on earth (Ecclesiastes 4:6) ? Do you care more that people see all the possessions you have or that your possessions can be used to care for other people?
I don’t think it’s wrong to own possessions, I think it’s wrong when they begin to own you. When my possessions begin to crowd out my passion for the Lord, my desire to serve John, when I’m more excited about a great sale at Hobby Lobby than an opportunity to serve someone in need (ouch).
There is a limited amount of space in my heart as there is in the new home we’re moving into. Do I want to crowd it with rusty junk or make it a sweet sanctuary? Do I have enough room in my heart and my home for the needs of others? For the Lord?
John and I still have a lot to learn about “what really matters” in terms of what to keep and we’ll probably end up moving things into our new place that we’ll never use. That’s just a reality. My hope is that we would not become so entrenched in our stuff that we would forget to cherish the things we really love, the things that make life worth living: serving Jesus and telling others about Him, making memories, learning about and loving on those around us.
No one can touch our souls, our joy in the Lord, or our love for each other and those around us. Those are intangible, eternal, and priceless.
My desire is that my “treasure” would lead my heart to a place of eternal security, hope in Jesus, and a passionate, purposeful life.
What is your treasure? Where does it lead your heart?