Several weeks ago, one of my brothers, Stephen, began texting members of our family every so often with words of encouragement, prayers, and Bible lessons he may have learned in his own study. After almost every message, he concludes by saying, “Jesus, be treasured.” This phrase has really stuck with me, as it really is the call for every follower of Jesus–to treasure Him above all else.
In my current study of Matthew 20, treasuring Jesus becomes one of the key concepts towards the end of the chapter when a rich young man approaches Jesus and asks Him, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (vs. 16). In summary, Jesus basically responds by saying that simply doing good deeds, conforming to and keeping the law, and earthly possessions will not get a person into heaven (vs. 18-21, 23). The commentary in my Bible says, “Jesus’ strategy (bringing up the law, telling the rich young man to sell all his possessions, and to give to the poor) is to turn this man from focusing on external conformity to the law to examining his heart, revealing his ruling god.”
Jesus’ final words in explaining how the rich young man can have eternal life are, “come, follow me” (vs. 21). Don’t these words sound familiar? Jesus said these exact words to His disciples, and they stopped whatever it was they were doing and they followed Jesus. However, the rich young man’s response was quite different. Verse 22 says, “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
It is so easy to lose sight of what truly is important. Jesus is really good at exposing what our hearts are genuinely loyal to, who the God (or god) of our heart really is. Money in itself is not sin. Having lots of money in itself is not sin. However, sin is committed when we place money as the treasure of our hearts, and not Jesus. Sin is committed when we choose to willingly serve money over God Himself (Matthew 6:24).
Again, my Bible commentary explains it so well by saying, “Wealth [can be] both deceptive and intoxicating: it [sometimes] fools a person into thinking that he or she is self-sufficient apart from God; and the rich person wants so desperately to hold on to that supposed self-sufficiency.”
It can be so easy to allow the necessity of money to control our habits, levels of happiness or contentment, and even how we serve God and serve others. May Jesus be treasured. May Jesus be treasured so that when our bank accounts aren’t where we want them, we still have joy. May Jesus be treasured so that when unexpected bills and expenses come up, we still have joy. May Jesus be treasured so that when we give financially, we can do it with a cheerful heart. In every way, may Jesus be treasured over our finances.
Money is not eternal. Your bank account does not carry over to eternity. So, why do we stress over them? Why put faith in them? Why place them as a higher priority over our relationship with Jesus?
Jesus’ desire was that this rich young man forsake his wealth, and his religious, legalistic good deeds, and, instead, humbly follow Jesus. In a world where money, status, and being a “good person” is so prevalent, may followers of Jesus never exchange the call of Jesus for the comfort of money; eternity without it is better than this world with it. Jesus is better.
So, as my brother Stephen puts it: Jesus, be treasured.