“Do not be afraid … for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” If God’s kingdom is to be experienced now, in this life, then we need to ask what exactly he’s talking about when he says, “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” What is it that we can receive right now that no thief – or economic recession – can steal or moth destroy?
In college my major was Economics. One of the first things you learn Economics is that economics is not the study of money like everyone assumes it is. Economics is the study of value. Money is simply a store of value. You cannot eat a dollar bill. But you can trade a few dollars for food. Our dollars do us little good at all until we use them.
To be sure, having a few extra dollars saved up for a rainy day allows us a certain peace of mind. That’s certainly helpful. But peace of mind bears a cost. What is “peace of mind” costing you? Ten thousand dollars? A hundred thousand? A million or more? Jesus is “suggesting” that most of us pay far too much for “peace of mind,” especially when “peace of mind” simply means having a stockpile of cash on hand for a rainy day.
A couple weeks ago, I traded several hundred dollars I’d been saving in order to travel to our family cabin on the Oregon Coast with wife Melanie and our daughter Arianna. We could have kept that money and stayed home enjoying the “peace of mind” that saving the money would have allowed us. But we enjoyed the money a lot more by using it to work on our connection to an “unhurried God” and on our unhurried connection to each other. (Granted, daughter Maren wasn’t too happy about us going to Oregon without her, as she had to be back at school while we were in Oregon. But she is getting a little help with school from some of those other dollars …).
The money we spent on vacation, of course, could have been spent on other, more practical things if we weren’t inclined to save it. For instance, we could have some fall clothing or a small piece of furniture. Yet forty years from now, what will we remember and appreciate more? The clothing, the furniture, or the time we spent developing our love-relationship with God and each other on vacation?
The fact of the matter is that love can never be taken away from you, whereas everything else can be. Love can’t even be taken away when it exists only in memory, as anyone who has ever lost someone special can attest to. When Melanie’s mother and my father died this past year, none of the love we shared disappeared. In fact, if anything it got stronger. When someone dies, those aspects about our Beloved that are less lovable tend to fade into the background, bringing the most loving parts of the relationship to the forefront, making the love we’ve experienced more concentrated and palpable.
This is what it means to make a purse that will not wear out. It’s a purse that’s available to us in this life, not merely in the next. You invest the money in love and every bit you invest not only comes back comes back in a form that cannot, like cash, be taken away.
Thus, Jesus concludes, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?”
The Mexican Fisherman
Isn’t it curious how we so urgently want to accumulate money in order to assure us “peace of mind” in case the bottom drops out in our life, only the quest for so much “peace of mind” leaves us worried and anxious?
I’m reminded of a story about a businessman who was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the man on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The man replied, “Only a little while.”
The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.
The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
The businessman responded, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”
What’s in your wallet – the wallet of your life? What are you accumulating? Are you truly accumulating “peace of mind” for a rainy day or just a whole lot more worry and stress? Are you accumulating the “assurance” you need of some glorious time in the future when you can enjoy the very things that could actually be enjoyed right now? If so, Jesus would advise you take a lesson from the rich fool. Spend your money on heaven – on accumulating LOVE, which is our experience of heaven in the here-and-now. Your investment will be rewarded. It is “God’s good pleasure” to give you the Kingdom. And rumor has it that this is the only investment you can take with you beyond this life into the next.