The Bible is an incredible book. After all, it is no less than God’s detailed communication—His heartfelt love letter—to His precious creation, mankind.
It’s been said the Bible is a river of wisdom in which both a mouse can wade and an elephant can swim. This means a brilliant theological scholar can spend decades probing the depths of Scripture, while at the same time, a third-grade CCD student can quickly grasp the message of one of Jesus’ parables.
Unlike a whodunit mystery novel, it is not necessary to understand every single detail of the Bible in order to “get it.” The Bible reveals divine wisdom to its reader in layers. Each subsequent layer of comprehension builds upon and enhances a previous concept.
(I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s famous quote: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
When you boil it down, there are only a handful of basic principles taught in the Bible. Once we understand these principles, we can spend the rest of our lives exploring them in more depth.
Fortunately, the Bible contains some pretty clear summary verses that highlight these basic themes. For example, “I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods besides me” (Exodus 20:2-3). “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
These themes repeat throughout the Bible, not unlike variations on a melody repeating throughout a symphony.
One such summary verse appears in this week’s gospel reading. Jesus was teaching about mankind’s tendency to trust in material possessions rather than trust in God. He said, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
The only thing God wants from us, the only reason He created us, is to share in His awesome love. He has offered us His heart; He desires that we offer Him ours in return.
When sin entered the world, mankind’s clear understanding of God’s wishes became clouded. We became so engrossed with our own immediate desires, concerns, and short-sighted schemes, we forgot about God’s long-term plan for us. We stopped offering our hearts to God.
Jesus knows if we offer our hearts to something fleeting and mortal—our possessions, our positions, our pleasures, our prestige—then there won’t be anything leftover to give to God.
This week Jesus is telling us to stop and ask ourselves what we treasure most. If it’s something material and worldly, and therefore temporary, then we can be sure we are not giving our hearts to the one thing that matters most, God.
Here’s a little test to see whether your treasure, and therefore your heart, is in the right or wrong place. Think about the things you always think about. Think about those things which are most important in your life, the things you long for the most, the things you gaze out the window and daydream about.
Here’s the simple test: One hundred years from now, will these important things be either rotting or rusting?
Is your most cherished treasure your car? Rusting. Is it your wardrobe or your summer cottage? Rotting. Is it your stunning good looks? Well, no amount of cosmetic surgery is going to help a century from today.
Is your most cherished treasure the love of God? Do you focus on purifying your soul, removing all bitterness, envy, and pride from your personality? These are the things which last. These are the treasures which will still be sparkling one hundred years from now, and for all eternity.
Knowing what real treasure is—this is a key theme of the Bible. Please don’t miss it.