Over the last three weeks, we have been dwelling in what Randy Alcorn calls “The Treasure Principle.” Pastor Aaron has meditated on scripture and experience that points to the simple fact that “God owns cattle on a thousand hills” and invites us to participate in God’s redeeming work in the world. The three basic principles have been:
- You can’t take it with you, but you can pass it on ahead.
- Learn from the legacy you inherited to create a legacy for the future.
- The only way to be free of materialism is by giving.
The challenge of applying the Treasure Principle is that we often forget those thousand hills that God owns and instead cling to “our” possessions, even though we know they can never give us abundant life and ultimately belong to God anyway.
In the story of the wealthy person wanting to inherit eternal life Jesus is stopped by a young man who “wants it all,” including eternal life. It’s a good thing to want, but Jesus sees through his question to the deeper one: “How can I squeeze in everything I want and still get heaven too?!” So Jesus challenges the final obstacle keeping this young man from having a heart truly set free of the tarnishing treasures of this world. He challenges him to let go of his worldly possessions.
It’s absolutely crucial that we revisit this story over and over again. At least once a year as we revisit how we manage our resources. Here’s the never-forget-nugget: Jesus does not need his cash, but God wants his heart. And Jesus makes it pretty clear: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What’s more astonishing still about this passage is the reward Jesus points us to.
People need to know WHY they do things. It’s natural to found our actions on good reasons that transcend our own lives. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” And the same Jesus teaches that we can give generously, with cheerful hearts, because of what we know our relatively minuscule dollars and cents will accomplish in the hands of the Creator, by whose grace we live and move and have our being.
- Not all of our worldly possessions are “money.” Can you think of anything that you would really struggle to let go of? Why would you struggle?
- Here’s an even more abstract version: can you think of anything immaterial (like family traditions, personal beliefs or values, etc.) that a person might struggle to let go of? Can immaterial “possessions” like these still be obstacles to an abundant life in Christ?
- Do you think Jesus wants everyone to “sell everything you own” and give it to the poor? Why or why not? If not, then what is the deeper meaning of this saying for every single one of us to apply to our lives?