by Joe Leavell
One of my favorite easy to read books of all time is called “The Treasure Principle” by author, Randy Alcorn. If you have not read it yet, I highly encourage you to pick it up and read it! It won’t take very long, and it will challenge your thinking! This is a book that is based off of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:21 that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Personally, Alcorn’s book helped me to think through how I spend my resources and what I hold dear. It’s a great little book, not just as I think through my finances, but also everything that I value and hold on to. In this book, Alcorn gives a powerful illustration that has continued to stick with me through the years.
“Imagine you’re alive at the end of the Civil War,” Alcorn challenges. “You’re living in the South, but you are a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South you’ve accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and the end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money?”
I love this scenario and not just because I’m a history buff! What would the knowledge of knowing how the war ends change what we would do with those Confederate dollars? In one sense, the answer should be obvious. Frankly, if you knew for a fact that the South would lose, I would daresay that you would not spend all of your time and energy trying to accumulate and horde as many Confederate dollars as you could. If you have any brains at all, you are going to work to trade in your Confederate money in exchange for something that you know will retain value long after the war is over.
I love this illustration of Confederate money because as believers, we often have a hard time looking at our time, our possessions, and our money as something temporary that will one day be worthless. Think about it for a moment. Does knowing how the war of the ages ends change how we invest our resources? Why would we spend all of our time, our money, our energy, and invest all of our abilities in the same way we do currently if we stopped and considered their temporary versus eternal value? Just like Confederate dollars, when Jesus returns, what will your impeccable Call of Duty statistics really be worth? How about that three under par you shot on your last round? How much value will you find in that car that you have sunk thousands into upgrades and hours into polishing? Will you relish in your clan’s level 11 town hall? How about that yard that you keep looking flawless or that house you feel you must keep so pristine? How about those 20 hours of overtime that you worked every week so you could keep things comfortable at home? How about your college GPA? What about that 401k and those stocks you check out every single day? Will you find value in your memory of every football player’s stats, every celebrity statistic, every politician’s position, or every bit of juicy gossip from social media? We could go on from there and go into endless things that we invest our time, our energy, and our money into, but you get the idea. Some things we do are arguably more valuable and worthwhile than others (sorry Candy Crush), but so much of what we think is important is ultimately worthless because it will not last.
This is not to say that playing a video game or a round of golf on occasion is sinful, nor is it to say as an avid Bronco’s fan that I’m not ecstatic that Peyton finally got another Super Bowl win. Yet Jesus’ advice for us is to utilize our temporary resources that we have been given for something that will last for eternity. He tells us to, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Scripture also tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). This principle is a change of mindset. Rather than valuing what we can do with our resources here where they will lose all value, consider investing those resources into eternity. For example, invest in your walk with Christ through reading His Word and spending time with God in prayer. Spend your temporary resources reflecting His love by loving your neighbor as yourself. Invest in others by sharing the Gospel with people who do not yet know and serve Him. Invest in creating quality art, books, and music that reflect God’s creative image in you and reflects His glory. Invest in your church family and in setting deep roots into your community. Invest in the spiritual well being of your spouse and your children, teaching and modeling God’s ways in front of them. Invest in reflecting Christ through your job by excelling at your work for His glory. Set your treasure in heaven by exploring and cultivating God’s creation and praising Him for what He has made. These are just examples of ways that we can utilize our time and energy for eternal purposes.
I hope you will reflect with me: how am I investing my temporary resources for eternity?