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Treasure

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

“Out of the overflow of the mouth, the heart speaks.” Matt. 12:34

This first verse is not rocket science. We can see it in other people easily. For example, my children might find their newest toy (or costume or balloon) to be their greatest treasure (for the moment) and woe to the person who interferes (or breaks or loses) that treasure. Because their heart’s affection has been so placed upon that thing, their response to other people is directly influenced by the way that other person respects, cherishes and honors that treasure. We quickly forget that people are more important than stuff when the stuff becomes the treasure and the treasure is threatened. And, what my heart most treasures is more easily exposed by my words and actions than I like to acknowledge.

So, when I gave the example yesterday of trying too hard to embody the Gospel, my sweet husband rightfully pointed out that it sounded like I was confessing my greatest sin to be loving Jesus too much – how lame. Give us something good like gluttony or addiction or adultery…not the Hillary Clinton confession of “I just care too much!”

What nobody could really know outside of my own realization, though, is that insight given to me from the outside wasn’t that I love Jesus too much but that my treasure wasn’t Jesus at all. I love me too much, my voice, my ideas, my thoughts, my perspective, my experiences and my communication. Like a salesman who may have a great product but is so aggressive and so focused on the sale rather than the person’s need, my treasure can easily be my ability to communicate and not Jesus or the person in front of me who He loves far more than I do. When it turns out I have communicated poorly, been misinterpreted or even had something ugly yet true seen by others that I couldnt’ even see myself, it becomes clear from my immediate disorientation that my treasure has been threatened, may be broken or lost. I panic, get irritable, feel a sense of loss and condemnation because my heart has been wrapped around a treasure that does perish, spoil and fade.

Yes, even ministry and the communication of the Gospel can become an idol, a Jesus replacement, a source of self-righteousness and is easily my treasure far more than the One about whom it claims to be. But because its such a good thing, it is so much easier not to see how I take it and treasure it more than the person and work of Jesus Himself. I begin to look toward my visible/tangible accomplishments as the source of life and for my sense of well-being rather than to the Giver of Life. I begin to find my righteousness in service (teaching, adoption, racial reconciliation, neighborhood, school, relational health, reputation, etc.) rather than in the only One who clothes me in His righteousness alone.

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Phil. 3:8-9

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