“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth” Matthew 6:19
Lay up – What is Jesus’ financial management strategy? He has one. Perhaps the reason that we don’t consider it in our retirement planning is that it is too radical for us, too counter-intuitive. Perhaps the reason we don’t consider it is that it is just too scary! Jesus financial strategy is to give it away.
There’s a little secret going on in this verse in Greek. The word translated “lay up” is from the same root as the word for “treasures”. Thesaurizo and thesauros. The action implies the thing. What I treasure becomes what I grasp and hold.
A few days ago I met with several young men who are in jail awaiting sentencing for felonies. They will all go to prison. We talked about what men treasure. We talked about treasuring those things that Jesus says are hopelessly vulnerable. Make your own list. Put down the top five things that you are trying your best to hold on to. Your job? Your family? Your money? How about your freedom? What these young men discovered is that anything in this world can be taken from you. There is nothing here that you can treasure so much that it cannot be lost. So, Jesus says, be liberated from your false treasuring strategy. Only hold on to the things that cannot be taken away.
Suddenly the list gets much smaller. Some of these young men will face decades behind bars. What would Jesus say to them about the things that cannot be taken away? What would you tell them? Does your life reflect a treasure that is still worth holding on to when you will live the next twenty years in a jail cell? Is your treasure vulnerable to any set of circumstances in this world that could tear it from your grasp? If it is, says Jesus, then why are you holding on so tight? Did you think that the strength of your own hand could prevent its loss?
The only things worth holding are the ones that you can let go of without a fight. If Jesus had held on to divinity, a treasure that none of us will ever be able to comprehend, we would have perished. But he did not even think divinity was worth grasping. He gave it away because even it did not compare to his love of the Father. If divinity is not worth grasping, why do we hold so tightly to such incredibly inferior things?
God so loved the world that He gave. That the real strategy, isn’t it?