Security to Die For
Praise to You, El Shaddai, the great Need-meeter. I turn over all my needs to You.
Consider: Fasting need not exclusively refer to food. Think of it in relation to television, or technology in general. Sometimes we need a break from them for our spiritual well-being.
"Show me your treasure and I'll show you where your heart is" (N. T. Wright). Stop and think about that. If you're like me, your first thought at the mention of treasure is about things like your bank account, savings, pension and so on. But then I asked myself: What matters to me? Is it what people think? How I come across in the church? How I do on my job evaluation? What another person (fill in the blank) thinks of me? Let's apply this to the two topics in today's reading: fasting and money.
There is room for different attitudes among Christians to fasting. In the Old Testament it is particularly associated with mourning and with repentance. The New Testament doesn't say much about it and nowhere commands it. Jesus fasted at the beginning of his ministry, but he denounced the Pharisees for expecting his disciples to practice it. What matters to God is not whether you fast, but what your motives are.
Jesus then zeroes in on money, which more than most things in our lives has the power to dominate our thinking. Remember the story he told about the successful farmer (Luke 12:16-21)? The global financial crises that started in 2006 have certainly reminded us that the future is not as certain as we thought it was. How have we responded? By being more anxious than ever about our money, or by rejoicing that the kingdom of God is of first importance to us?
The section about light is based on ancient ideas of how we see and has puzzled commentators, but the point is clear: "how spiritually disoriented is a life which ... aims to amass and hold on to ‘treasure on earth'" (R. T. France). No one can serve two masters. Where is your treasure?
What is the connection between our treasure and our heart? How are you storing up treasures in heaven?
Father, in relation to priorities and possessions, I am always in need of evaluation and correction. Again today, I put you first and direct my heart afresh to You.