Where is Your Treasure?
“Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.”—Luke 12:34.
THROUGHOUT human history, many have centered their lives around the acquiring of material possessions—houses, gold, silver, precious stones, extensive flocks and herds of domestic animals, and the like. People have struggled to increase their property, hoping that their labors would benefit children and grandchildren and even later generations. But are material possessions rightly the treasure that should get the prime attention from God’s servants?
2. If a Christian concentrated mainly on material goals, how would he be like “men of this system of things”?
2 If a Christian were to devote himself mainly to the pursuit of material goals, would he not be at variance with persons who are serving God? He would be much like those described by the inspired psalmist David—“men of this system of things, whose share is in this life, . . . who are satisfied with sons and who do lay up for their children what they leave over.” (Ps. 17:14) Such “men of this system of things” know nothing loftier than the satisfying of their personal desires. All that life means to them is making a good living, raising a family and leaving behind an inheritance. They give no thought to their obligation toward Jehovah God.
3. What was of greatest importance to David? (Ps. 16:5-8)
3 How different was David’s outlook on life! He declared: “As for me, in righteousness I shall behold your face; I will be satisfied when awakening to see your form.” (Ps. 17:15) Yes, his chief interest was in remaining righteous so that he might see God’s face, that is, experience divine favor and blessing as if standing before his Maker. On “awakening” to an assurance from God, David would rejoice in Jehovah’s presence with him. Truly, the psalmist’s heart had set its affections on spiritual treasures that endure.
4. What determines where our treasure is?
4 What about today? Judged by our attitudes, words and actions, where is our treasure? Is it here on the earth or is it in the heavens? Just where our treasure is depends on the way in which our hearts are motivating us. Jesus Christ said: “Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.” (Luke 12:34) Our considering and applying what else the Son of God then stated can be most helpful in setting our affections where they should be.
EVALUATE MATERIAL RICHES PROPERLY
5. (a) Why did Jesus Christ refuse to involve himself in an inheritance dispute? (b) What warning did he give at that time, and why? (c) What illustration did he present to emphasize the folly of attaching undue importance to material things?
5 As we examine the context of Jesus’ words, we note that a large crowd had been listening to the Son of God. One of them spoke up: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13) Since the Mosaic law stipulated that the firstborn son was to receive two parts of the inheritance, there really should not have been any reason for a dispute. (Deut. 21:17) Apparently the man who asked Jesus to intervene wanted more than his legal share. Seeing the issue, the Son of God refused to get involved but warned the crowd against wrongly desiring what others have. He said: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) No matter how wealthy a person may be, he simply cannot keep himself alive indefinitely. He will die just as any other man and leave all his piled-up wealth behind. Jesus further emphasized this point when giving the following illustration:
“The land of a certain rich man produced well. Consequently he began reasoning within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, now that I have nowhere to gather my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good things; and I will say to my soul: “Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.”’ But God said to him, ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’”—Luke 12:16-20.
6. What did the rich man in Jesus’ illustration fail to appreciate, and how did Jesus apply the illustration?
6 The rich man in this illustration gave no thought as to how he could use his riches to help others. He became solely concerned about his own comforts, hoping to benefit from his stored-up wealth for years to come. He lost sight of the fact that his life could end very quickly and so failed to use his assets in building up a record of fine works with Jehovah God. Therefore, at death, he had no treasure in the form of fine works that could be rewarded by his Maker. As Jesus put it: “So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:21.
7. What words of the disciple James show that Christians may be ensnared in the way that the rich man of Jesus’ illustration was?
7 Disciples of Jesus Christ are not immune to the danger of falling into the same state of mind as that of the rich man in the illustration. For example, the Christian disciple James found it necessary to censure certain fellow believers: “Come, now, you who say: ‘Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,’ whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. Instead, you ought to say: ‘If Jehovah wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’ But now you take pride in your self-assuming brags. All such taking of pride is wicked.”—Jas. 4:13-16.
8. When would it be presumptuous to pursue long-range material goals, and why?
8 It is really the height of presumptuousness and pride for a person to express determination to pursue long-range material goals with success and do that without any regard for God’s will in the matter. There is no way to know what even the next day will bring. The best plans may fail, or death may come suddenly, unexpectedly. Human life is as frail and unstable as a mist and so is not a reliable foundation on which to build one’s hopes. Hence, the person who boasts about how he will carry out his plans ignores his dependence on God and disregards the fact that divine blessing is needed for success. As the disciple James well noted, such prideful action is wicked.
9. What do we learn from 1 Timothy 6:9, 10 about the danger of striving for riches?
9 The person who recklessly goes ahead with his materialistic plans and shoves God’s will for him in the background comes into grave spiritual danger. The Christian apostle Paul warned: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10.
10. (a) What should we do when planning for the future, and why? (b) Are material assets to be used solely for the satisfying of personal pleasures, and what do the Scriptures say about this?
10 On the other hand, if our hearts are motivating us aright, we will not lose sight of the uncertainty of life and our total dependence on Jehovah God. Then, whenever we make plans for the future, we will prayerfully consider how these plans fit in with God’s purpose. This will prevent our getting so wrapped up in materialistic pursuits that we have less and less time for building a strong faith. Such prayerful consideration will also help us to see that material assets are not simply to be piled up for the satisfying of personal pleasures but should be used to benefit needy fellow humans. This unselfish use of money is basic to a person’s being a true Christian. The Scriptures tell us: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Eph. 4:28) “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.”—Jas. 1:27.
BEWARE OF BEING SIDETRACKED BY DAILY CARES
11. What counsel did Jesus Christ give about the proper attitude respecting daily cares of life?
11 While many Christians may realize the folly of piling up wealth just for their own pleasure and benefit, they may not realize that daily cares can just as easily distract them from being whole-souled in serving Jehovah God. This was the point that Jesus specifically made when turning attention to his disciples, saying:
“On this account I say to you, Quit being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or about your bodies as to what you will wear. For the soul is worth more than food and the body than clothing. Mark well that the ravens neither sow seed nor reap, and they have neither barn nor storehouse, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than birds? Who of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his life-span? If, therefore, you cannot do the least thing, why be anxious about the remaining things? Mark well how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation in the field that today exists and tomorrow is cast into an oven, how much rather will he clothe you, you with little faith! So quit seeking what you might eat and what you might drink, and quit being in anxious suspense; for all these are the things the nations of the world are eagerly pursuing, but your Father knows you need these things. Nevertheless, seek continually his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”—Luke 12:22-31.
12. Why is it unreasonable to give way to extreme worry about food and clothing and to begin to slacken in spiritual pursuits?
12 Especially in times of economic hardships or increasing inflation, we do well to meditate on these words of Jesus. All the care, worry and anxiety in the world will not improve our situation. Physical nourishment cannot sustain our lives everlastingly, nor can it secure for us a good name with Jehovah God. Hence, the person who makes food a matter of such anxious care as to neglect his service to God would actually be placing a higher value on physical sustenance than on his life. Similarly, the person who becomes overanxious about his clothing needs, and begins to slack off in spiritual pursuits, would be assigning greater worth to clothing than to his body. Undue concern about getting daily necessities constitutes a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for his servants.
13. Why should what Jehovah has done for the ravens and the lilies of the field be of encouragement to us?
13 In view of Jehovah’s matchless record as a Provider, there is no reason for anyone to yield to such a lack of faith. As Jesus pointed out, the ravens do not worry about where their next meal is going to come from nor do the lilies become anxious about their adornment. Yet, those ravens, by looking for food, find enough to sustain them, and the lilies simply grow and put on a gorgeous display of color that not even King Solomon could rival with his beautiful attire. Yes, Jehovah God has arranged matters so that the ravens are able to find the needed food, and the vegetation can be adorned with blossoms of outstanding beauty. Could we, therefore, imagine that he would callously allow his servants to starve to death or to walk about without essential clothing? Certainly not. Hence, as a general rule, true Christians can rest assured that, when they do not let the cares of life hinder their service to God, they will have basic essentials. In fact, they will be better off than worldlings in like economic circumstances. Christians fare better because of not wasting their assets in gambling, smoking, heavy drinking or the like.
EXPRESSIONS FROM JEHOVAH’S MOUTH HAVE SUSTAINING POWER
14. Without Jehovah’s direct help, could the Israelites have survived in the wilderness, and what do Moses’ words reveal in this regard?
14 Think, too, of what Jehovah God did for the Israelites in the wilderness. Moses reminded them: “Remember all the way that Jehovah your God made you walk these forty years in the wilderness, . . . he humbled you and let you go hungry and fed you with the manna, which neither you had known nor your fathers had known; in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.” (Deut. 8:2, 3) In the uncultivated wilderness, some three million Israelites simply could not have survived for 40 years. In fact, Jehovah God allowed them to come into a situation where they thought that they would actually starve to death. They cried out to Moses and Aaron: “You have brought us out into this wilderness to put this whole congregation to death by famine.” (Ex. 16:3) Without the ordinary means for sustaining life—bread—the Israelites felt that they were doomed.
15. Why did Jehovah permit the Israelites to experience hunger, and in what sense was the manna an expression of his mouth?
15 Jehovah indeed humbled them by letting them experience such helplessness. His purpose in doing so was to teach them that, when the common supply of food failed, the expressions of Jehovah’s mouth could sustain man. The miraculous manna was such an expression, for Jehovah gave the command and the manna came to be. Since Jehovah God kept a whole nation alive in a wilderness for 40 years, we can have every confidence that the expressions of his mouth can also sustain us today.
16 What expressions has Jehovah made about sustaining his servants? The inspired psalmist wrote: “Jehovah will not forsake his people.” (Ps. 94:14) And Jesus Christ said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matt. 6:31-33.
17. What tangible form may the expression of Jehovah’s mouth take when it comes to sustaining the life of his servants?
17 Therefore, all who truly seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first will experience his loving care. Though they may find themselves in seemingly hopeless circumstances, the expressions of Jehovah’s mouth will sustain them. As the manna was a tangible expression from Jehovah’s mouth and kept the Israelites alive in the wilderness, so today Jehovah’s promise to sustain his servants will take a tangible form. For example, Jehovah has at times moved fellow believers or even unbelievers to come to the aid of his needy servants. Since undue worry about daily cares of life can be destructive to our spiritual outlook, we do well to keep strong our faith in Jehovah’s ability to provide for us.—Heb. 13:5, 6.
18. (a) Why should we consider seriously whether we are laying up treasures in heaven? (b) What questions might we ask ourselves to determine just where our real treasure is?
18 This matter of laying up treasure in heaven should not be treated lightly. All future blessings and life prospects depend on it. (Compare Luke 12:45-48.) Hence, it is good for each one to examine himself, asking: Are Kingdom interests really first in my life? Am I using my time, energies and assets in a way that results in praise to God’s name and in benefit to my fellow humans? Can I see that material things are not the important thing in my life but that my greatest joy comes from serving Jehovah God? Only if our real treasure is in the heavens can we answer Yes to these questions.
[Picture on page 20]
Manna, an expression from Jehovah that sustained a nation