Where Your Treasure Is, There Also Will Your Heart Be

A good friend recently drew my attention to a video in which Christopher Hitchens criticizes what he calls the central doctrine of Jesus Christ – “Take no thought for the morrow.” He characterizes Jesus as teaching there should be “no investment…no thrift…no caring for your children…no worry about construction or investment” or anything like that.

I assume that Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel from Matthew form at least part of the basis for Hitchens’ mischaracterization of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.”

But the import of those words is not, as Hitchens would have us believe, that one ought not to engage in any planning or take care of our children, but to recognize that our ultimate security is not in things of this world. Not don’t build roads, but recognize that those roads will not last forever. Not don’t save money to send your children to college, but know that what will lead to their ultimate peace and happiness is not something you can measure with a gpa. Not don’t plant your crops, but recognize that tornados and insects may come and you have no guarantee of what you will get at the end.

Jesus teaching does not tell us to ignore this world. Indeed, he teaches us to build kingdom here on earth. (I would characterize Jesus’ central message as love.) But He does want us to understand that there is no ultimate security in things of this world and that when we think and behave as though there is, we are putting our hearts in the wrong place. Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

So build, save, take care of your children, but don’t lose sight of our ultimate source of peace and happiness. That is where our heart should be.