Tag Archives: treasure

The poor in the gospel of Luke (vii)

After a longish break, back to my series on the poor in Luke’s Gospel. We’ve got up to chapter 18.There are three incidences in Luke 18 that I want to look briefly at. They are not directly about helping the poor, more about attitudes to God.

The first is the parable that Jesus tells at the beginning, the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). Although these are not directly concerned with the poor, they do involve those on the edge of the Jewish society. The widow was powerless and wanting justice. The judge had the power but not the inclination to use it for good. Through the widow’s sheer persistence, almost nagging at the judge, she would see justice. Jesus’ point is that even if an unjust judge delivers justice, how much more with God who is just. He cares about the plight of those who do not have a voice and will see to it that their case is heard.

The second passage is the incident with the rich young ruler (18:18-30), obviously a good man. He is wealthy and seemingly has everything he needs, but the one this he doesn’t have is something he cannot control – assurance about eternal life. When he came to Jesus and asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life” I don’t know what answer he was expecting – give away a bit of money, build welfare strictures for the poor, give to the temple Maybe one of these.

But the answer he finally gets is interesting. Jesus says “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (18:22).

The point here isn’t directly about money or the poor, although Jesus sees them as worthy recipients of the money. The sticking point for the rich man was that his possessions were becoming his god. That is why he needed to get rid of them – they were getting in the way, and he couldn’t give them up. For the rich man, only by doing this could he have ‘treasure in heaven’.

This does say something about the attitudes that God wants in following Jesus. In a sense, we must all become poor – not in a material sense but in the way we come towards God. We are poor in that we get all we have and need from Him, material and spiritual. We will always need God first and foremost no matter now much else we may have.

Finally, there is a short incident with a blind beggar at the end of the chapter (18:35-43), when compared to the incident with the rich man, this story is amazing. This was a beggar. He was materially poor. He had nothing and needed to beg for his money for food. Yet when he hears that Jesus is coming he does all he can to be heard. I don’t know how many people must have passed him that day and maybe given him a couple of coins. Many more must have ignored him completely. Yet when he hears Jesus is coming he doesn’t ask for money, or food. He asks to see. He knows that Jesus can do it, and indeed, Jesus does have mercy on him and heals him. I guess he has nothing to lose, but his attitude is one of dependence and humility, relying and trusting in the power of God even though he had no power of his own. He was poor, but he became rich, gaining his sight and praising God.

Treasuring Christ

Following on from my last entry on the poor in the Gospel of Luke -

Last week i was at the New Word Alive Christian conference in Pwllheli, North Wales. I was thinking about that verse in Luke anyway ?“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). It had led me to think about actively putting my ‘treasures’, that is those things I value most highly like time and money, into  such things that would draw me towards God – they would ast as a kind of investment.

Then I get to the conference and John Piper is due to speak on ‘Treasuring Christ’ from a text of Romans 8. He said that Christ is our treasure. Christ came into the world so that we may have him and this is the highest goal of life – to treasure him. Piper remarked that ‘treasure’ is a verb as well as a noun – an actively seeking to treasure those things that are important. If we say Christ is important, treasuring Him is the goal of our lives. I’m sure I don’t treasure him enough.

This would have a radical effect on life – if it is Christ who is being treasured above all things, then our hearts will naturally turn towards him and towards God. Our investment will be in him. Our desires will be in tune with his.  Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

He went on to talk about treasuring through suffering – if you can go thorough suffering or persecution and still say that Christ is my everything – not only is this a test of faith in yourself and a revelation of the faithfulness of God in suffering, but then people might just believe you when you say that he is more important than anything. Money, wealth, fame, health, everything.

The talks are well worth listening too – they can be found here:

Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer Part 1

Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer Part 2

Now, how do we treasure Christ day by day? That is possibly a topic for another blog entry.

The poor in the gospel of Luke (iv)

This is the fourth part of a series looking at how Luke deals with the subjects of the poor and poverty.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)

The last sentence has been on my mind for a few days, but some general thoughts on the passage before I get to it.

The verse on the poor comes in the middle of a section of teaching by Jesus. He has been teaching about hypocrisy, remaining faithful to him in the midst of persecution, through words and actions. Jesus has also warned about greed (it comes just after Jesus was asked to arbitrate in a family argument over inheritance). His response it to think of heavenly security rather than earthly security. Therefore his hearers are not to worry about material security in this life as God will provide (they’ve already been promised the kingdom). Instead he says, sell your possessions and give to the poor. This is the ultimate sign of dependence and trust in God. Make your priorities the same as God’s, which includes caring for the poor. Priorities like this result in treasure that will not perish.

However, the emphasis in this passage seems to be on the attitudes of the giver, rather than the poor who will receive.

As I said, verse 34 has been on my mind for a few days (it is also in Matthew 6), even before it came up in my study notes – where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I have read it many times, but have read it in the way that if you look to see where your money/time/treasure is going, you can see where the true motives of your heart are. i.e. the location of your treasure explains where your heart is.

However, I think you can also read it the other way around. the verse says ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’. So, the action of putting your treasure in certain places influences the direction of you heart. I suppose an investment is going to be looked after and followed. So investing in places such as, say, the poor, or in Christian mission then means you are more likely to follow what is going on in those areas. The interest is sparked by the investment. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.

So, I could argue that if you want to be more passionate about the poor, give (time or money) to charities that serve the poor. If you want to be more passionate about Christian mission, give to Christian mission, if you want to be more passionate about changing God’s church, give to it and get involved. Most people want to se a return on your investment. Your heart will be invested in it.