Saturday, August 11, 2007

Treasures In Heaven

I wrote this letter this afternoon to someone near and dear to me who I have been talking with lately about money and jobs. I thought perhaps someone else out there could be blessed by reading it:

I agree with you that many quality teachers are grossly underpaid. It is unfortunate that many careers done "from the heart" are not rewarded monetarily. I think this is part of why the Bible says, "Work wholeheartedly, as serving the Lord, not men." People may not give us our just pay, and employers may even mistreat us. But when we work at a job or volunteer ministry or station in life (like motherhood!) as though we are employed by the Lord Himself, not only do we work harder and with integrity, but we trust God to reward us in eternal ways. Jesus said it this way:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

God has called Ken and me to vocational ministry. We may never have much money in worldly standards. But we feel rich! Honestly, we do. We are rich in relationships, family, purpose, joy, and we are rich from the ultimate treasure of knowing God. Furthermore, we are not lacking anything. God really does provide for our every need...unexpected gifts exactly when we need that have blessed us and others. There are ways He provides that you may never even give thought to, such as finding a great deal on clothes that helps stretch the budget. Sounds silly, but it is true. God gives us so many good things.

The Bible says clearly that he will provide for everyone what they need if they will simply ask. Not everything we want, though. That's one of the biggest challenges: knowing the difference between a need and a want. The second challenge is to be content with what God gives us. You can only feel rich if you have learned to be content. Jesus continues his message about money like this:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?...So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34)

If the first two challenges are 1) to know the difference between a need and a want, and then 2) to be content with what God gives us, the third challenge is to be good stewards of what God entrusts to us. This may be what frustrates you the most about people not achieving their full potential: they may have squandered what God has given them. They have been given life, and time, and opportunity. Yet maybe they didn't make the most of it. I agree it is sad, because they may have had more in life. This is another principle about resources that Jesus teaches, that when you are faithful with the little He gives you, He will entrust you with much more. "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (Matthew 25:21) In this sense, I echo your frustration with people. Yet when I look at myself, I have made that same mistake often. I have wasted time. I have wasted money. I have wasted opportunities. I can be just as frustrated with myself! Praise God for His amazing grace. God gives me undeserved gifts of provision. And God gives me the most amazing undeserved provision of all: Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.

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