November 22, 2018
We all have things. As I look around my house I probably have more things than I really need. Nothing I have is of much monetary value, but there are treasures I wouldn’t want to lose, such as pictures of my wedding, of my children, of my grandchildren, and old family pictures. I also have a knickknack holder that had belonged to my mother and a China cabinet my husband had specially made for me just because he knew it would make me happy. These things are priceless to me and can’t be replaced. In the last year or so the news has been full of major disasters. The United States has been hit by some hurricanes which have destroyed homes and businesses. People’s lives have been endangered as they face these storms, and some have not survived. As I write this commentary there are two wildfires burning in California. The one in Northern California is raging in the area where my husband grew up. Homes have been lost, property destroyed, and people have died. The fire in Southern California has also claimed lives and we hear of many movie stars who have lost their mansions. I’m sorry for them because I’m sure they had mementoes and things of value that have been destroyed. Insurance will rebuilt houses, some things cannot be replaced. The one that weighs heavily upon my heart is the life work of L.A. Marzulli. His small home, his studio, and the products he sells for his ministry have all been destroyed in the fire, and much of his loss was uninsured. I know that other Christians have also lost their homes in these fires. How does a person recover from these tragedies? “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. If your treasure is on earth then you have no consolation. If your real treasure is in heaven then nothing can destroy it.
When tragedy happens, many people blame God. Why? God didn’t start the fires, but He gets blamed. God loves people even if they don’t love Him, and whether you recognize His blessings or not you still benefit from His lovingkindness. “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45. The context of this verse is Jesus admonishing us to love our enemies. God loves those who come against Him and blesses them in spite of their rebellion. They receive His blessings of sunshine and rain showers just like those of us who love Him. God’s desire is that those who reject Him will come to a saving faith in Him. Those who are opposed to God and reject Him won’t have the blessing of eternal life, but they have the same opportunity to turn to Jesus for salvation as Christians have. The difference is that Christians have recognized their need for salvation. Instead of blaming God when things go wrong, take a strong look at your life and see if you treasure the wrong things. Our choice to sin is the cause of much calamity. Divergent lifestyles cause disease, alcoholism causes disease, smoking causes disease. Do you see a trend there? These activities are your choice so you can’t blame God when bad things happen. Even if you live a life dedicated to sin, God is calling you to repent and ask Him to forgive you. Then you can start laying up your true treasure in Heaven by living your life for Jesus. If you’ve already accepted Christ and face trouble, don’t despair. On this side of Heaven we all face illness and loss. For Christians we have the blessed assurance that our true Home and treasure is eternal.
The question we all need to ask is where is our treasure? As Christians, do we treasure the things we possess, or do we understand that our real treasure is in Heaven. We may have a comfortable home and we work hard to pay the mortgage and the upkeep. There’s nothing wrong with having a nice home, but what happens if that home is lost? Paul knew the difference between things we do for ourselves and things we do for Christ. The congregation in Corinth was very worldly and Paul wanted them to understand that the foundation of their lives was Jesus Christ. That truth is as important today as it was when Paul wrote his letter. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. Every building that is constructed is only as solid as its foundation. If the foundation is flawed then the building won’t last. Jesus Christ is the foundation on which a Christian’s life is to be established. Our works are to be built upon Him. When we accept Jesus for salvation our desire should change from desires for self gain to becoming more like Him. The ungodly desires of the flesh that cause us to sin will always bring grief and are part of a flawed foundation. If the treasures you accumulate can be lost in a flood or fire then you’ve been building upon the wrong foundation. Build your life on Jesus Christ. Paul divides works into two categories…those that will burn and those that will not. The things we do that don’t honor God are wood, hay, and stubble. When judgment comes they will burn and be of no value. On the other hand, the things done for God are everlasting and like gold, silver, and precious stones. Everybody will one day face judgment, but the judgment a Christian faces is not one of condemnation because Jesus already paid the price for our salvation and we have eternal life through Him. Our works will be judged, not us. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:13. Everything you’ve done will be made known. The secret sins you try to hide from other people are known to God, so confess them to Him and turn from your sin. Start today to build lasting treasure in Heaven.
The works that will survive judgment are the things you do for Christ. For instance, a person may give generously to charity or do wonderful things for the community, which are deemed good works. If those works are done for your own glory then they mean nothing. When you give money or do a kindness, do it in the name of Jesus. It’s OK for you to be thanked for your kindness, but give God the glory. Our works cannot save us; only the blood of Jesus Christ brings salvation. Only things done for Him will bring rewards. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. Non-Christians will one day face the white throne judgment of God. That’s where their works will be judged. Since they have rejected Christ and have done nothing in His name everything they’ve done in this life will be burned. According to Scripture works cannot save anyone. The sweetest little old granny who rejects Jesus for salvation is as condemned as the most hardened criminal. The difference between salvation and condemnation is faith in Jesus Christ. Christians will also be judged after death at the bema seat. Our righteousness is through Jesus Christ, not because we’ve earned or deserve forgiveness but because He is our righteousness. Our sins are forgiven when we sincerely accept Christ for salvation, but the works we’ve done will either be burned or will bring rewards. The Christian who has continued to live a worldly life will have no reward. Paul reminds us that only his works will be burned, but he shall be saved. When you stand before Christ, who bled and died for you, you will want rewards. Not for your own glory but to be able to cast them at His feet in honor and praise and thanksgiving for His love and mercy.
The things we accomplish in this life are important to us but they are fleeting. As I read of the tragedy and loss caused by the wildfires my heart breaks. I wonder, though, how many of the people who have lost so much have lost their only treasure. The rich and famous have lost their worldly possessions, but most of these people have lived selfish lives which are opposed to God. This world is where their treasure is. I’m painting with a broad brush here, but we hear so much about the evil lifestyles that are so prominent in the Hollywood scene. On the other hand, those who serve the Lord, such as L.A. Marzulli and his ministry, have built upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. Although the loss is tragic, their true treasure is laid up in Heaven where it won’t be burned in the judgment fire.
Heavenly Father, the news headlines are filled with tragedy. People have lost so many earthly possessions due to fires, hurricanes, and other disasters. These worldly possessions on can be rebuilt and replaced, but the loss of human life is the real tragedy. Father, You gave Your only begotten Son so that we can have everlasting life but many people reject Your gift and their treasure is only in this world. I pray that You will use these evil disasters for Your good in that Christians will help fellow Christians rebuild and restore their lives and ministries. I pray that those who don’t know You will see the strength and joy that comes from You and be led to accept Christ for salvation. That’s when their true treasure will be in Heaven. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Houses and cars are a major loss in this world, but if you have no treasure in Heaven then you have no treasure at all. Only those things done for Christ are eternal.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at our Home Page under the Newsletter Archive tab.
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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