Nov17TueNovember 17, 2015
There has been a rise in the number of thefts around town. I’ve had friends tell me of things that have been stolen from them and recently there was an air compressor taken from in front of my house in the middle of the night. The compressor did not belong to me, but to a contractor that was working on my roof. When he reported the theft to the local law enforcement they told him that many things had been stolen recently and that they had apprehended a few culprits, but not enough to stop the group altogether.
Theft is a frustrating, anger-inducing crime to suffer. You have worked to rightly obtain that possession and some lazy knucklehead decides they want it for themselves, so they take it from you. Often times our sense of security being violated is more upsetting than the loss of the material goods. Theft degrades our feelings of security. The first few nights in our new home I turned the exterior lights off. After the theft, I leave them on throughout the night. I’m more aware of locking doors and keeping things out of sight in order to try and limit the temptation for sticky-fingered passersby.
This morning I was thinking about my efforts to secure my “stuff” when I was reminded of the text in Matthew’s Gospel 6: 19-21
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [NASB]
These words of Jesus are addressing priorities. There’s no command against wanting to keep your things, or taking some reasonable measures to secure them, but there is a real call here to remind us that our earthly stuff ought not to be our highest priority. The more we accumulate, the more time and resources we exert in defending our things. Justice still ought to be served, but that is most often out of our direct sphere of influence. What we can do is take stock of how attached we have become to our possessions, because there is an invisible line that we tend to sneak across that changes our allegiance from us possessing things, to a mindset where our things possess us.
How did Jesus respond to thieves? In Luke 19:1-10 we have the account of Zaccheus, a tax-collector (ie. a known thief) whom Jesus decides to visit. The people who saw Jesus go to Zaccheus’ house were very upset. Why would he go to spend time with a known criminal? Verse 10 tells us, “For the Son of Man (Jesus) has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” As a result of Jesus’ visit, a thief repented and took actions to compensate those he stole from! Zaccheus’ life was transformed and the society benefitted because Jesus saw beyond the thief’s actions and recognized that common heritage, that Zaccheus, “too, is a son of Abraham.” The recognition of commonality and a clarity of purpose allowed Jesus to bring salvation to one who didn’t deserve it… just like you and me.
May we be people who exercise wisdom in stewardship over the things God has entrusted to us here on earth in a way that enables us to store up treasure in heaven, and may our priorities be ever aligned with those of Jesus, our Lord and King.
In the Strong Name of Jesus,
- Pastor Nate