In Jesus’ day, treasures—especially expensive garments and money—were vulnerable to the disintegrating forces of moths, rust and burglars.
This matter—the vulnerability of material/financial well-being—seems particularly pertinent in these times. Today’s thieves-in-the-night are as stealthy and insistent as those Jesus referred to in his Sermon on the Mount. Scammers and grifters especially target those of us who are older. Nowadays, the moth/rust/thieves trio works digitally. (The possibilities for theft in online banking and shopping come to mind.) Although they are protected by a trove of passwords, large parts of my well-being are still exposed to quiet, invisible loss. That worries me, perhaps unduly.
It seems like the more I depend on privacy policies, algorithms, two-factor IDs or homeowners insurance, the less secure I feel. You may know that feeling if you’ve had some part of your personal identity compromised, stolen or otherwise misused. (I’ve been down that path a few times in the past months.) Which leads me to a truism for these times: Safety is a relative term.
Jesus’ invitation—“Store up your treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:20)—points to a helpful, beyond-materialistic mindset. Although it’s important for me to safeguard the tangible assets that God has provided, it’s equally important that I don’t spend most of my waking moments fixating on savings, investments, privacy or credit scores. That mindset feels like a possible glidepath to early dementia. Or at least a misplacing of my heart’s treasures.
Instead, storing heavenly treasures—loving relationships, lived-out virtues/values, devotion to God’s will for the world, insistent hope, gratitude for being alive—can help my soul not get overrun with worry about today’s moths, rust and thievery. (In the next entry, I’ll say more about this helpful corrective from Jesus!)
Okay, I’ll stop perseverating now….