Our house was broken into by thieves. Their target was our copper pipes, but they also nabbed a brass mallard, some sweet little Nikon binoculars, and a blanket of which I was inordinately fond. It could have been worse. They could have taken much more, and trashed the place, but they did not.
This comes to mind as I read the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus told his disciples not to store up treasures on earth but in heaven, “where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (see Matthew 6:19–21).
Where is my treasure? There is an ache in my heart when I think of the things that were taken, particularly that blanket. It leaves a hole that cries out to be filled. But with what?
- More possessions that can be stolen or moth-eaten or rusted away?
- More or better investments?
- What about less tangible treasures like prestige or power?
- More books published, or a bigger social media following?
- Health or beauty or nice clothes?
And when death steals all these things from me, will my heart be just a gaping hole?
How full is your “heavenly handbag”?
Every time I see our empty blanket chest, the ache reminds me: “lay up treasure in heaven.” Better to stock my heavenly treasure chest—or as Pope Francis called it, the “handbag of heaven.”
In Luke 12, Jesus tells the disciples to sell their possessions, give alms, and focus on filling “purses that do not grow old.” We don’t need to be afraid for ourselves, he says, because it’s God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom! (see vss. 32–34). In God’s economy, it’s those who give who receive: “give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” (Luke 6:38).
What I love about both of these passages (Matthew 6 and Luke 12) is the reason Jesus gives to store treasure in heaven: so that our hearts will be there, too. We can guard against aching hearts by giving away and holding lightly earthly things, and amassing the kind of treasure that lasts forever.
In the end, the treasure that lasts turns out to be the same treasure that really satisfies our hearts. The investment that truly pays is knowing and loving Jesus and the things he loves: Holiness. Mercy. Truth. Justice. Charity. It is in loving others—even those we don’t like, even enemies—as he does. It is in giving our things and our selves up for him, investing time in people before profit.
It’s worth thinking about: What’s in your handbag?
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“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.”
—Isaiah 55:2, ESV
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©2022 Sarah Christmyer