"Draw near to God - Put your trust in Him - Declare His works" (Psalm 73:28)
Two Kinds of Treasure
November 2, 2016
There once was a man who thought he knew himself. It doesn’t matter who he is. There are thousands and thousands just like him.
He did a pretty good impersonation of a Christian businessman – in public.
This man, like many who live as he did, often quoted scriptures in order to make himself look righteous in the eyes of others. I’ve found it conspicuous that many seem to use the very same Bible verses. The following quote seems to be popular among them, and it is used out of context and is almost always misquoted as we will see later in this article:
“I am the head and not the tail; I am above, and not below.”
In his wake this man left devastated lives, as do all who live like he did. Those people really knew him – the real him. They repeatedly experienced him using people and discarding them
Apparently the conviction of the Lord was absent in his life, because he kept doing it over and over again.
He was laying up treasures for himself.
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)
There are two kinds of treasure: earthly and heavenly.
This man was laying up earthly treasures for which there is no heavenly match. Many men and women live this way.
Now, there are some earthly treasures that come from truly righteous living because God blesses His people.
“In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.” (Proverbs 15:6)
The difference is that the unrighteous have only earthly treasures in mind as they hurt others in their quest to experience good things during their short time on the earth.
The righteous who are heavenly minded seek to please their heavenly Father in how they live on the earth. They have heavenly treasures in mind and, in their attempts to live righteously, God often also establishes earthly treasures for them during their own short time on the earth.
Jesus said this:
“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)
Jesus said that. Yet, despite that, many who present a Christian facade while not honoring the Christ in their hearts seem to live only to lay up treasures on the earth.
This is sad, not only because of the wreckage they leave behind them and in their own hearts but also because it is all so fruitless.
NONE of these “earthly treasures” will last.
It is all such a waste.
The reality is that there are good people and there are evil people and that…..
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:35)
There is only one way for an evil person to become good and that is for him to truly give himself to Jesus by receiving Jesus as LORD.
This does not happen through us merely praying a prayer. It happens when we COMPREHEND what that means and we ACTIVELY ask the Lord to purchase us and make us His own. (Romans 10:8-13; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Unfortunately, in our “gotta have it now” entitled culture, we want to quickly say some words and expect that it is our words or physical actions that save us. The flesh always wants to be in control.
We can so easily become just like that unrighteous man who chants “I am the head and not the tail; I am above, and not below” and think the power lies in ourselves to make ourselves something.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
We CANNOT make ourselves holy and righteous. That is God’s job.
We cannot make ourselves be “the head” or to be “above”. That, too, is God’s job as we will see when we read the entire passage from which that term comes. The LORD makes us the “head and not the tail” and so on.
When we are truly born again, we come to love the things Jesus loves and hate the things He hates. We are to receive His mind (1 Corinthians 2:16) as the Lord brings us to that place in Him.
“Don’t be passive about acquiring passion for the Son of God. Make it the focus of your life. Put your eyes on the Son of God and leave them there (Heb 12:2), and you will find yourself becoming like him. You will find yourself falling in love with him as you ask God day after day to consume you with passion for his glorious Son. And that passion, as it begins to occupy your heart, will conquer a thousand sins in your life. You will begin to love what he loves and hate what he hates.” (“Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Discovering How God Speaks and Heals Today” – Jack Deere - p. 201)
This article you are reading came out of remembering and praying for the many I have met over the years who are like the man I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
They live like hell but chant scriptures over themselves, using the Word of God as if it were a collection of magic incantations that can cause His blessings to fall on them. They seek to present an image of being holy and righteous, all the while attempting to make themselves into something that they are not.
This is VERY sad to me. My heart about it is not one of judgement, rather of grief for the damage they do to themselves and others.
The proclamation that many make over themselves, “I am the head and not the tail; I am above, and not below”, is mined from a passage of Scripture found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
Curiously, that was written at a time in which the Law had been given by God to Man partly to reveal Man’s inability to make himself righteous through perfect performance (Romans 5:20-21).
In this passage we find that God makes some promises to His people. God promises the following to His people:
To set them high above all nations of the earth
That blessings shall come upon them and overtake them
That they will be blessed in the city, and in the country
That the fruit of their body, the produce of their ground, the increase of their herds, the increase of their cattle, the offspring of their flocks, their baskets and their kneading bowls will be blessed
That they will be blessed when they come in and when they go out
That the LORD will cause their enemies who rise against them to be defeated before their faces and flee before them
That the LORD will command the blessing on them in their storehouses and in all to which they set their hand
That He will bless them in the land which He gives them
That the LORD will establish them as a holy people to Himself
That all peoples of the earth will see that they are called by the name of the LORD
That those people will be afraid of them
That He will grant them plenty of goods, in the fruit of their bodies, in the increase of their livestock, and in the produce of their ground
That He will open to them His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to their land in its season, and to bless all the work of their hands
That the LORD will make them the head and not the tail and that they shall be above only, and not be beneath,
Is that not a wonderful list of blessings that God says He wishes to give to His people?
Please note that we are not to make these things happen to ourselves.
GOD grants these – and HE grants them to those that BELONG to Him….and to those who live like they belong to Him and NOT to themselves.
These blessings come attached to the words “if” and “because”.
Listen to how that list of blessings in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 begins:
“Now it shall come to pass, IF you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, BECAUSE you obey the voice of the LORD your God…” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 – caps are mine)
These blessings do not come because, as some Christians teach and/or practice, we command them as Christians to come.
These blessings come because that is the natural (or supernatural) outpouring of God’s love into the lives of people who live in integrity. That integrity and grateful living reflects that we are, indeed, the children of the Most High God.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)
When our lives reflect the reality that we are God’s children His blessings simply flow in our lives. This is why the list of blessings we see in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are called “the FRUIT of the Spirit.”
A tree cannot force its fruit to appear through its own efforts or by “claiming it” for itself. The fruit simply appears because that is how God designed a healthy tree to operate.
The same is true for the blessings that flow in the lives of healthy Christians.
“The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, IF you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” (Deuteronomy 28:9 – caps are mine)
“And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, IF you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13 – caps are mine)
Please hear me! God is not puny and spiteful. Many who try to make God out to be in the image of Man seem to believe He is on some sort of a power trip. He is not.
He is God. He is secure in His knowledge of Who He is and He has all the power already. Therefore, He has no need to make us believe that He is in charge.
The conditional terms “if” and “because” are simply hints He gives us to reveal to us that when we live as we are designed to live we can benefit from the blessings He craves to grant us. (Conversely, those conditional terms remind us that if we don’t live as we are designed by God to live we will NOT benefit from those blessings.)
We might say that He already HAS made available to Christians all these blessings in Christ.
Those conditional words are there, then, to reveal to us that often it is our own behavior preventing those blessings from being realized in our daily lives.
“So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” (Deuteronomy 28:14)
The truth is that any people living an ungodly lifestyle…even Christians…DO turn away from those words God has given us, DO turn to the right or the left and DO go after and serve other gods. So often our most preferred “other god” is our own self….as we attempt to make ourselves into something only God can make us.
Let’s not fall for that temptation from the devil.
There are two kinds of treasure: earthly and heavenly.
God’s blessings, experienced in heaven or here on the earth, are heavenly treasures and they are eternal – everlasting.
The “treasures” people generate through their own proclamations, toiling, stealing, cheating, and other works are mere earthly treasure.
None of that will last very long at all.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)
I want my heart to be in heaven - moment by moment.
How about you?
Praying about all this and expressing it here in this article has encouraged me to turn to the Lord and ask Him to reveal to me whether I am seeking temporary earthly treasures or everlasting heavenly ones from Him.
Maybe it will encourage you to do the same. Seems to me to be a good place to start.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)