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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 6:19–24

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (NRSV)

“You cannot serve God and wealth.” I am no biblical scholar, but I think this sentence seems pretty clear and concise. And it is very challenging for us living in a twenty-first century consumerist society because it is directly counter-cultural. We are urged to success. We are urged to the acquisition of property and goods in order to provide for ourselves and our families. And let’s face it, without the accumulation of wealth, we would be hard pressed to support the church and our mission. Actually, the key word in the sentence is serve and not wealth, and this is not as clear and concise as we may first think. Therefore, it’s not really wealth itself that precludes our closer relationship to God but how it is ruled or is left to rule us.

When wealth becomes treasure, we have stepped over the line because having and protecting our treasure becomes what defines us. It blinds us to the light of God’s word and causes us to become focused on trivialities while missing the bigger picture—that there is really only one master to serve. We cannot proclaim our Godliness in the same breath as our worldliness and believe they exist on equal terms. We can’t have it both ways, but we can ensure that our eyes are open to the meaning of wealth as a follower of Christ.

Ours is not a gospel of prosperity, but a gospel of service. Ours is not a gospel of division between those who have much and those who have little, but a gospel of inclusive love. Ours is not a gospel of competition between winners and losers, but a gospel of grace. This is our treasure. And “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

How much wealthier could one be?

Gracious God, remind me that living in the world does not mean living in worldliness, but in the unearned grace you’ve given. Remind me that there is wealth in service and treasure in discipleship. Amen.

Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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