Jesus taught his followers about life values. He warned them about making the wrong things their treasures, the people, possessions, and pursuits they valued most. In one profound teaching he said---
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.
Matthew 6:19-21, ESV
Surely he was teaching his disciples and listeners about the shallow nature of the world's value system and the eternal substance of kingdom values. "Treasures in heaven" should predominate a Christian worldview, cherished valuables that are not subject to the movement of nature or the whims of culture.
The final sentence in that lesson gives me pause. Who can deny the context of those powerful words, a lesson contrasting a very human approach to life as compared to a kingdom outlook? At the same time who can ignore the picture of human nature laced into the fabric of Christ's words? "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" enlarges the application of his words far beyond the immediate occasion. It reminds us that our human hearts are typically captive to the things we value most, what we treasure. If that is the case, then we should guard our hearts from being owned by the wrong things.
Move this idea in a couple of directions and give me a little license to advance the thought beyond the pin-pointed context of Paul's more specific intent in the verses to follow. The Apostle Paul advised the Philippians---
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7, ESV
We humans have a central memory system that encodes our darker experiences more indelibly than those on the lighter, more positive side. This is because we have to process them with greater urgency, think about them more carefully, and deal with the troubling questions that usually arrive with them. These more troublesome memories are more often than not the source of anxiety, worry, loss of confidence, and at times our sense of security. Paul advises that these should be the avenues of prayer and supplication to God so that we can experience the peace of God. The result is that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.
For me this is a treasure prevention strategy, steps to insure that my heart is guarded from valuing the treasures of this world or allowing my hard memories to command my memory system. And, more to the point this week, the peace of God will guard my heart and protect me from allowing those darker memories to become more significant than the many good ones. I mean, the down sides of life can certainly surround us with layers of emotional support, the care and attention of others, the blessings of being remembered in prayer, of arms that circle and embrace us when those darker hours are the days agenda. What human doesn't find solace in a pity party once in a while and the encouragement others bring to our hard memories. Even then, however, those more troublesome memories should never predominate. We must not treasure them above the others.
Harriet bought a treasure chest at Hobby Lobby. We've been exploring the four drawers of pictures in our bookcase to search out images of our favorite times as a family. We're placing them in the treasure chest to remind us that these are among the most treasured memories of our forty-five years. On hard days we talk through them, laugh over most of them, remember details that warranted the snapshots, and think about the milestones, occasions, and frivolous days we remembered with a camera. We want these remembrances to be the memories we treasure. You see, where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.
We cannot forget the ordeals of the pancreatic cancer that took Harriet's mother, the ALS that eventually ended my mother's life, or the hard truths of Brian's murder. God taught us much in each of them and we are grateful for the lessons learned in those hours of loss. But, they aren't the treasured memories that bring us peace and guide our hearts through grief. The ones in the treasure chest are the precious memories that linger---the beautiful times of their influence over us, and, more than anything else, the faith of our knowing where they are now. These are our treasured memories.
It's a life truth, authenticated and affirmed by Jesus. Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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