What’s Your Treasure?

© Iryna Denysova | 123rf.com

© Iryna Denysova | 123rf.com

There is a great scene in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies where Thorin Oakenshield realizes that the golden treasure of Smaug had captured his heart. He forgot the simple truth of Matthew 6:19-24, that whatever he treasured controlled his heart; and whatever controlled his heart would control his behavior. “A treasure such as this cannot be counted in lives lost. It is worth all the blood we can spend.” He finally realized that he’d been blinded by his greed for Smaug’s earthly treasure and had turned against everything he valued. “You sit here in these vast halls with a crown upon your head, and yet you are lesser now than you have ever been.” Tossing aside his crown, which was a symbol of what ruled his heart, he joined in the battle against the Orcs, helping to turn a defeat into victory.

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. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24)

Both within The Hobbit and the Matthew passage, the metaphor of treasure is used to illustrate the consequences of allowing earthly treasure to rule our heart. Jesus cautioned his listeners to not hoard (lay up) treasures on earth. Rather they should strive to do the things that result in (lay up) treasures in heaven. Hoarding earthly treasure will not protect it from being corrupted and consumed. Investing in heavenly treasure provides a storehouse of wealth beyond the reach of earthly corruption. Paul Tripp, in Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, said:

There are only two kinds of treasures, earthly and heavenly, and whatever treasures we choose will become our rulers. They exercise control over us, for if something is your treasure, you will live to gain, maintain and enjoy it. Sadly, we often fail to see this in ourselves, though we can see it in others. One of the most tragic things that could happen to a human being is to invest his life in pursuit of the wrong treasure.

There is a parallel here between the “heart” in verse 21, and the “eyes” of verses 22 and 23. In his commentary on Matthew, Craig Blomberg commented that just as the heart represents the center of our psychic life, the eyes enable us to see the world around us. “Good and bad eyes probably parallel a good and bad heart and thus refer, respectively, to storing up treasures in heaven versus storing them up on earth.” So if that which should lead to good (the light in you) actually causes evil (darkness), “the person is truly perverse.”

So there is an association here to the blindness and heart issues discussed in Luke 6:39-45 and Ezekiel 14:1-11 (See “Diagnosing Spiritual Heart Problems” and “Spiritual Heart Problems” respectively). There cannot be a bad tree that bears good fruit or a good tree that bears bad fruit. The idol in our heart has a stumbling block that will trip us up, even as we come to seek the Lord. “The things we set our hearts on never remain under our control. Instead, they capture, control, and enslave us.”

There are only two options open.  Each person must choose between the competing treasures of heaven and earth, God and money. Using the institution of slavery to illustrate his point, Jesus stated that service to God was antithetical to hoarding earthly treasure. In other words, there is a binary relationship between God and wealth. If you are ruled by one, you will be devoted to it and love it. You will also hate and despise the other. “You cannot serve both God and money.”

Although the immediate context of the passage addresses material wealth, the lessons learned here apply to all other areas of our lives. Earthly treasure will not last, while heavenly treasure will. Whatever you treasure controls your heart. You can’t serve God and anything else at the same time. And whatever controls your heart, controls your behavior.

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