This post was originally posted on ChristianStewardshipCoaching.com December 3, 2014.
My wife and I spent many years gathering stuff, of course we gathered debts to go along with that stuff. Now I’ll be honest I was the spender in our relationship,
Hi my name is Scott and I like stuff.
What was funny is all that stuff didn’t really make us happy. In fact the debt that came along with the stuff nearly destroyed our marriage and nearly took my life. This is one reason that the passage from Romans 13:8-14 is so meaningful for me, the debt we had nearly destroyed our lives.
I thought that being a good provider meant providing lots of stuff for my family.
I thought that working long hours showed my family that I valued them.
I was wrong.
The first question you have to ask yourself if you want to learn to be a good steward is: What Do I Really Treasure?
The Truth is Our Treasure Is Not Found in Our Stuff
Our homes have nearly doubled in square footage in the last 60 years growing in size and amenities. Despite that we have nearly 2.3 billion square feet of rentable self-storage space in the United States. We have so much stuff that our homes can’t hold it even though they’ve grown in size.
But our treasure is not found in stuff.
This post isn’t an indictment on stuff. In fact, now that my wife and I are out of debt we have gotten more stuff that we put to very good use. But in spending two years 11 months getting out of debt we found out that the stuff we had, this wasn’t our treasure, it wasn’t what we really valued.
What We Value in the End?
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In the The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, categorized and recorded the top five regrets of the dying.
The five categories were:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
You’ll notice how none of those are talking about the things they have acquired on earth—the kind of treasure that moth and rust can destroy, the kind that thieves can break in and steal.
People in their last moments talk about their family, friends, moments with God, children they have taught, mission trips they have taken. They talk about vacations and laughter, and they share stories that are amusing and meaningful. They talk less about salaries and more about promises shared with God and with people.
The Truth is That Heart Follows Treasure
Jesus Talks about Money
You know I’ve mentioned time and time again that Stewardship is about more than money and this series is about where you are investing your life, but there’s no denying that it’s also about money. That’s because Jesus talked about money. In fact, Jesus talked more about money than about heaven and hell combined. Jesus talked more about money than anything except the Kingdom of God. Eleven of Jesus’ thirty-nine parables are about money. One of every seven verses in the Gospel of Luke talks about money. Even though Jesus lived long ago and taught people that lived in a different part of the world and lived a different way he still spent much of his time talking about money.
Why did Jesus talk so much about money?
Because Jesus Cares about Our Hearts
In the Sermon on the Mount we see that Jesus is looking at the heart. He cares about the hearts of God’s people. There are five basic divisions in the Sermon: Beatitudes, New Laws, Instructions on Prayer, Instructions on Money, and Warnings against false teachings.
If you think about it that means he offered comfort to those that were sick in the heart, challenged those that wrongly focused on the law to the exclusion of caring with their heart, explained how our spirit would connect our heart to Got through prayer, warnings about false teachings leading our hearts astray, and of course, talked about money and how this would affect our heart.
Jesus talks about money and treasure in Matthew 5:19-21 because he knows that they affect our hearts. He knows money stresses our relationships. Money causes division in and among people. Money and its pursuit can be all-consuming and burdensome. Money affects our lives but it also affects our spirit, our very soul. Those who have lost jobs or find money hard to find will tell you that it is not just a financial issue but an emotional and spiritual one.
Jesus talks about money because he cares about our hearts.
After All Our Treasure Shows Us Our Heart
See Jesus really knew us better than we know ourselves. Not a big surprise but there it is.
As people we usually think that where our heart is, our treasure will follow.
Jesus says that it is the opposite.
Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
This is not just a change in semantics. Jesus knows that the place where we spend our money will become our treasure, whether we want it to or not.
If you have no money thoughts about money will consume your every thought.
If you have money then how you earn it, spend it, save it, and give it will also take your time and energy. The commitments you make with your money pulls our hearts in a direction that perhaps neither we nor God ever intended.
If you buy a house that requires a large percentage of your income, you have no choice but to spend time and energy and money in paying for it.
If you take a job just for an income it takes your time and energy.
If you invest your treasure into anything, your heart will follow.
So How Can we Make a Wise Heart Investment?
Billy Graham was asked late in his life, “If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?”
His answer may surprise you.
Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements. . . . Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Billy Graham on Aging, Regrets, and Evangelicals,” Christianity Today, January 21, 2011,
Isn’t this great advice for all of us?
Guard your time and don’t feel like you have to do everything?
After all, we aren’t God why do we take on the responsibility of being God?
I want to ask you a few questions…
What Do You Want to be Investing In?
If you didn’t have your debt or commitments, and if you could choose where to store up treasure, where would it be?
What Are You Investing In?
As you consider where you would store up treasure, take a moment to assess realistically where your treasure currently is? Do you feel your heart divided?
Treasure in Heaven
Jesus tells us we have the opportunity to lay up treasure in heaven. When we are investing our lives in the things of God, we find that our hearts no longer feel disconnected from God but rather are in unity with God.