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Devotion: Treasure Hunters

When I was a Senior in High School, I had a big decision to make. I had applied to five colleges, but I really only wanted to go to one. Luckily I was accepted at all five schools and had received scholarship to all five as well, but of course, my dream school’s scholarship package left a lot to be desired. My dream school had a prestigious music program and at that time, I was convinced that God had called me to be a Music minister so I was going to be the best Music Education student on the planet. I received a small scholarship from that school, but because the school was private, it left my parents with an unspeakable amount of money still owed even with Florida Prepaid and Bright Futures applied.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and dad in tears when they told me that realistically, this school had to be taken off of the table. They loved me enough to tell me NO, and even now, 20 years later, I am convinced that what my parents were really teaching me with that hard conversation around the Kitchen Table was about priorities. They loved me enough to not let me graduate with $100,000+ in school debt. They loved me enough to prioritize my mental health and emotional well-being over the disappointment of not going to my dream school. And they loved me enough to say, when it came to college, there is a better way.

It turns out, they were right and the lesson I learned that day lead me down a path to go to Florida Southern College, pursue Music Education with a minor in Religion, fall in love with the study of Scripture, lead a Campus ministry, join a sorority and graduate with honors because I prioritized correctly. Sometimes (most times) it pays to listen to the wisdom of our parents. And whether you realized it or not, the Scripture we studied on Sunday helps shed some light on this very topic.

This past Sunday, we celebrated the work of God through our Vacation Bible School, we sang fun songs and heard a powerful message from Pastor Leah. As we look back at the text from Mathew 6, here it is again from The Message version.

19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a musty cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.”

This Scripture and this call from Jesus is really about our priorities. As you might guess, putting God first is the goal, in all things. Now I am not trying to say that one college was the Godly “choice” and one college wasn’t, but when it came to financial stability and the opportunities of my two younger sisters who also wanted to be able to go to college, this was the God honoring decision for us as a family. I idealized one school and obsessed over it, but ultimately, God had other plans for me that would lead me to seminary and to answering my call to be a pastor. Sometimes our priorities are short-sighted and so grounded in the present, we can’t imagine another way. Sometimes are priorities are passed down from our family of origin or the person we married. And other times, like in the Sermon on the Mount, our priorities are from Jesus Himself.

When we are honest with ourselves and with God, we can ask, “What is my priority in this situation?” Are my eyes fixed on God? Or am I focused on another prize or passion? Or said another way, how are you storing up treasures in heaven where the earthly things can not destroy it?

It helps if we understand that “Heaven” refers not to where we go when we die. Instead, “Heaven”, is where God is right now, and where, if you learn to love and serve God right now, you will have treasure in the present, not just in the future. And so how does one learn to live like Treasure Hunters on earth? N.T. Wright lists these three things in his commentary Matthew for Everyone (Chapters 1-15).

  1. Learn to live in the Presence of a Loving Father
  2. Learn to do everything for Him and Him alone
  3. Get your priorities right

If we focus on the last point, our priorities are right when our eyes see clearly. This is why the eye metaphor is used here. Jesus is essentially saying, get your eyes checked and make sure your eyes are shedding things in light, not in darkness. Meaning, take care that what you actually look at does not take your heart and mind astray. If you are in control of your eyes, do your eyes help you keep your priorities straight and lead you in the right direction?

My hope is that I have given you some thoughts to take with you into this week as you hold to your priorities and seek to keep Jesus first. If you are free this Friday, June 23rd, I would love to have lunch with you, from 11am to 1pm on the first floor of the church office. Bring your own lunch anytime during those two hours and we can talk together about this devotion or any others that have sparked something in your heart and mind that you would like to discuss in community.

See you then!