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If we cannot see or envision what our real treasures are, then we’re blind, says Jesus in Matthew 6:19-23. If we consider as valuable anything that can decay or could be stolen from us, we’re living in the darkness of a world-view that is bleak, cynical, and discouraging.
Look at 2 Corinthians 11:18-30 to see how much St. Paul suffered in his passion for serving the kingdom of God. And yet, he wasn’t feeling bleak, cynical, or discouraged. He wasn’t complaining. Why not? Because he knew that his work was valuable. He understood that eternal treasures come from pressing on through hardships and sacrifices and boldly facing danger for the sake of the salvation of others.
Take a close look – in the Light of Christ – at your treasures, your real treasures. What talents do you have? They are gifts from God. What pearls of wisdom or gems of unconditional love or diamonds of trust have you gained from hardship? They will last forever and eternally benefit others if you use them well.
How do your weaknesses become treasures that produce hope and glorify God? If you learn from mistakes, or if you overcome a sinful tendency, or if you crumble in trials but return to your daily pressures with strength from the Holy Spirit, you’re collecting treasures beyond measure. The value of these treasures is in the good that they do for others.
God doesn’t withhold anything good from us. We, however, walk around rotting in hopelessness, feeling empty, unless we open ourselves to receive the treasures of heaven. This requires recognizing their true value in regards to other people. If we value earthly treasures, toiling to collect them only for our own sake, we will have nothing to take with us to heaven, nor do we have anything now that will give us long-lasting joy on earth.
Over the past few years, many people have been learning this the hard way: losing jobs, unable to find new employment, being foreclosed out of their homes, forced to reprioritize their spending habits. We need to learn from economic hardships. As a society and as individuals, we need to emerge from this much wiser for it, more charitable, more freely sharing with others whatever wealth we have, even if we don’t think it’s wealth at all.
Earthly goods are to be used for the kingdom of God. If we’re willing to share our possessions with others, it’s not a sin to have an abundance of them. God wants to be generous with us so that we become distributors of his goodness. Affluence is not bad, but it’s also not the real treasure. What we do with affluence produces the true treasures – or else it decays our souls.
Our souls are enlivened and enriched when our motive for having what we have and for getting what we dream of getting is to aid that which is eternal in others. Do we want to use our possessions in the service of God’s kingdom? Or are they serving only earthly, temporary, selfish purposes?
Only by spreading the love of God do we accumulate treasures that we’ll be able to enjoy for all of eternity. And if we have to endure hardships and make sacrifices to get it done, then the treasures are precious indeed!
© 2011 by Terry A. Modica
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