December 12, 2017

Looking Back to Think Ahead

Doug Wright

Calculating your trajectory is critical if you want to reach your intended destination. By today’s standards, the technology used in the Apollo manned lunar program was archaic. It was no more powerful than a pocket calculator, but still able to guide a 239,000 mile journey from the Earth to the Moon and return them safely.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorted His listeners to “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-24). Jesus was clearly trying to focus his audience on what is most important. If treasures in heaven are the objective, one would do well to use the new year to evaluate one’s trajectory. People, even Christians, lay up earthly treasures year after year, and seldom make any substantial changes to alter that trajectory.

With that in mind, I decided to check my own trajectory. Using Matt. 6:19-24, I asked myself three motivational questions to evaluate the old year, and move purposefully into the New Year. My goal was to identify and implement some spiritually motivated resolutions that would move me more clearly toward the goal of laying up treasures in heaven.

The first question comes from verses 19-20 – “Where am I laying up treasures?” I have no trouble understanding how to lay up treasures on earth. I have a house, a car, a little money in the bank, and a few investments. These earthly treasures suffer from the very problems that Jesus points out. Moths eat clothing, rust is eating away at the fender well of my Silverado, and I have a home security system to discourage thieves from “breaking through and stealing.” How many treasures have I laid up in heaven, though. As I review the past 364 days, where have I been laying up treasures? When I get to heaven, will I have an account that has my name on it? My fear is that when I look at the “treasures in heaven” marked “2014”, I will hang my head in shame.

The second question comes from verses 21-23 – “What am I currently investing in?” This is a distinct question from the first. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is [investment], there will your heart be also.” Your heart (interest) follows your investment. Put the opposite way, your investment determines your interest. I can easily illustrate what Jesus was pointing out. I invested in X. X is the symbol for United States Steel. I do not have a lot of money invested in X, but enough that when I check the market, I always check to see how United States Steel did. Because I have invested in something, I have an interest in it.

That principle carries through into our spiritual investments. Am I investing more time in sports teams, television, hobbies, and other interests than in heavenly treasures? I need to invest time and effort into the spiritual needs of the people around me. I need to invest in the ministry of my church. I need to invest in things that are important to God. When I do, my heart will follow my investment. Some people try to approach ministry the other way around. They want to love something and then invest in it. Jesus made clear that our approach must be investment first.

My final question comes from Jesus’ assertion that we cannot serve God and mammon. People attempt to serve both, but neither is happy. The Christian man who serves mammon knows he should attend church, so he does. His attendance, however, is begrudging, and he perceives it as wasting time. God is not happy, and the man is not happy. Thus, an honest evaluation asks the question, “What can I change to alter the outcome?” If I want treasures in heaven for 2015, how will I accomplish that? When I consider my time, talents, and treasures, how can I more profitably invest them to lay up treasures in heaven?

This cannot be a surface evaluation, but a realistic look at how I am using my time, talents, and treasures. Think of it this way:

In 2015, what should I invest my time in that will better allow me to lay up treasures in heaven? Set specific goals for Bible reading, witnessing, weekly ministry, church attendance, etc.

In 2015, how can I better utilize my talents to lay up treasures in heaven? Think about the gifts God has given you, and how He wants to use them in His church. Your gifts were given for the good of the body (church), not for your personal glorification. If every believer would use their gifts properly, our churches would flourish.

In 2015, how can I invest my treasures more effectively to lay up treasures in heaven? God expects us to be good stewards of His treasures. That means we do not see “stuff” as ours, but as entrusted to us to care for as He instructs. That means giving to our local church, helping the poor, and investing in ministry.

A realistic plan follows a realistic evaluation of how many treasures you have laid up in heaven in 2014. Change will come because we have determined to do things differently in 2015.


Doug Wright is pastor of Keystone Baptist Church, Berryville, VA.


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