All You See before Me
19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
23but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Years ago (probably over 20) there was a commercial on TV during the holidays for a toy store. The camera pans up from a huge stack of toys to reveal a beautiful little girl who moves her hand across the pile as she lisps, “All you see before me is mine.” My daughters and I used to laugh every time it came on because she was so cute in her avarice. Jesus addresses our avarice in His Sermon on the Mount, but He doesn’t find it very cute. In fact, He warns us in the strongest terms to avoid this sin. His Words are addressed to an audience that probably would not rank high on the wealth scale so it would appear that even those who do not have much by way of material possessions can struggle with the desire for more.
In fitting with the entire teaching, we find that the sin avarice is not a matter of the actual possessions but our attitudes toward them. A famous billionaire was once asked how much money was enough. His answer was “just one more dollar than I can spend.” There’s no such thing as ‘enough’. What the problem comes down to is trust. It’s not a matter of having possessions. That is not a sin. The problem becomes spiritual when we trust more in our wealth than we do in the God who provided it. When I can easily purchase everything I want (going way beyond need) then I quickly learn how to thank myself rather than God for my material blessings. The next thing to collapse is my generosity. When I’m trusting in myself to provide for my wants it is easy to forget about sharing what I have with others. The light from my eyes grows dim as I gaze upon the needs around me. I only look inward. My eyes have become dark.
This isn’t new information. As I sat here and tried to think up something fresh to say about these Words, I realized that we don’t need more instruction about how to be generous. We already know the answer to that! But we must read these words often because we can quickly forget how to live generously. Trust in God is easily thrown out the door as we scramble to take care of ourselves. Those who need our help are pushed aside. Yes, we’ve read these words and can even explain what they mean. But are we living them? Maybe not all the time.