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Featured What is a heavenly treasure?: Treasures in Heaven: Matthew 6:19-24

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by sealchan, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    What is a "treasure in heaven"? According to Jesus here is what it is not...something subject to physical decay or to thievery. But what can be said in a more positive sense about our heavenly treasures? Is there inherently no physical quality to them at all? How are they personal acquisitions?

    I've been thinking about what I collect...I try to minimize this and make it as practical as possible, but such is the pull of the physical world...still, one of my collections is books. These are not a worldly wealth so much as a wealth of experience, of knowledge. As such their value is not in their physical form.

    The books and, I should say, the movies I collect sit on the shelf together. They point to my deep interest in the human story as told by story-tellers, scientists and historians. For me, one of the greatest experiences is to enter one of these stories and get lost for a time. Events of great magnitude then take place before me with small details and an epic outcome. This is first and foremost my church.

    Last year my home fell within the range of a level 2 evacuation due to the threat of local fires in the National Forest where I live. I had to confront the possibility of losing all of my worldly possessions as I could not move them. Well, I could have tried to move them but the effort was far greater than my desire to do so. I thought about how I kept a list of those books and movies I have on my shelf and this was a great comfort to me. It did not matter so much that I might lose this investment. I knew that I could find them all again.

    This further taught me the value of "the Cloud" that nebulous place that invites us all to store our data, even our identity. I had that list of epic books and movies in a document in the cloud. No fire could take that from me as I am sure that Google (my service provider for this online storage of documents) surely has a hot backup facility and redundant servers on the internet. Now theoretically a catastrophe large enough could effectively destroy all the digital manifestation of that document, but how large of a threat is this?

    So it is with this recent experience of mine that I think, "What are the treasures?" Are they abstract human attitudes and virtues such as those psychological qualities that Jesus tells us about in the Beatitudes, or can they be something more specific, yet ephemeral, such as a list pointing us to the path of our own identity?
     
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  2. Marcion

    Marcion Well-Known Member

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    I think 'Treasure in Heaven' is a metaphor for the realisation of the Holy Spirit or Rule ("Kingdom") of God. So Jesus means to say that his direct disciples (who had become itinerant celebate missionaries like Jesus himself) should let go of their family life and try to forget about worldly pursuits and focus on self-realisation ('Treasure in Heaven') only.

    Most christians however are not itinerant missionaries so they should somewhat compromise and try not to get attached to the people they take care of nor to their worldly affairs by offering the colours of their daily life and these affairs to Christ (Jesus gives special prayers to be able to do this better or easier).
     
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  3. JoshuaTree

    JoshuaTree Flowers are red?

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    Jesus was saying that we won't know when or where we will find the Kingdom of Heaven, but when we find it nothing else will matter to us. No different than Jesus telling Nicodemus that he had to be born again to enter the Kingdom of heaven, that Nicodemus could no more pick the time and the place of his second birth than he could pick the time and place of his first. A treasure is a gift, not a wage.

    Matthew 13:44-46
    44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
    45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
     
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  4. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Agreed.

    It seems to me this teaching aims to have us let go of the physical world and attend to the non-physical/spiritual world. Certainly this is something which Jesus' disciples want to hear given their commitment to him.

    You also seem to be saying this includes people. But what is spiritual that is also not manifest in the physical in some way? Who knows the Holy Spirit without a body and brain to know it with?

    Now to offer the colors of one's daily life to Christ...is that not to offer one's experience or story?
     
  5. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this.

    I find it interesting that Jesus speaks of heaven and treasure in terms of the physical world. Certainly this helps aid in understanding what is assuredly a metaphorical reference to what is spiritual that is not, strictly speaking, a matter of the physical world.

    But what is the treasures of one's life referring to? What is in the Kingdom of Heaven that we can have right now as a "treasure" in this life even if metaphorically?
     
  6. JoshuaTree

    JoshuaTree Flowers are red?

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    The kingdom of heaven is here and now but cannot be realized until a time and place of God's choosing.
     
  7. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    I assume that other scripture speaks to this. But my interest in this thread is more along the lines of what might one select specifically in one's life as one's heavenly treasures. I think that this teaching of Jesus directly prompts that question in the serious believer. How might one apply this directly to one's life and have it influence your understanding of your actions and your choices?

    If we value family or our savings account (for the sake of the security it provides, let's say) or one's herds or business, etc...what is it that is replacing these things?

    I know that one easy answer is belief in Christ, that he died for our sins, etc...but I am thinking that we can dig deeper than this easy answer (the right answer on a test meant to prove that a person is a Christian) to look at what, specifically in our lives, is our treasures and to what extent do they free us from ties to death and loss?

    I think that this is a valid question which, again, I mean to ask and I think that Jesus would have each of us ask, believer or no. I don't think that the easy answers as I have suggested above are enough...not for a deeper, active faith.
     
  8. JoshuaTree

    JoshuaTree Flowers are red?

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    I don't think we understand each other quite yet so please be patient with me as I make another comment. :)

    When the folks in the parables found the treasure they sold all they had to possess it. Certainly the audience of the day thought it very odd to pay for a treasure that they discovered giving them cause to ponder (giving cause for ponder was the point of the parables wasn't it). Why? Why would the folks in the parable sell all they own to purchase something they already have? Isn't that odd? Unless that was the point of the thing, right? Consider how silly it must have sounded to the audience of the day that "the meek shall inherit the earth", I bet a whole lot of very non-meek people walked away from that speech laughing and shaking their heads. Jesus spoke of storing treasure in heaven and the rich (like Nicodemus) immediately go on a treasure hunt. We discover the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven at a time and place of God's choosing, and what we discover we realize has always been there but didn't know it. Isn't that just like a treasure? We have no idea that there's treasure right beneath our feet until we find it and then we realize it has always been there?
     
  9. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Sure. This makes a lot of sense assuming that the two teachings go together which is reasonable.

    This treasure, once buried in a field (which in dream terminology would be something once known but forgotten or abandoned (into the personal unconscious)), is then dug up but can only be dug up if the attachment to physical possessions is "sold". This attachment is, perhaps, the very soil covering one's self. So I would say that technically this treasure is one we knew about but forgot due to the accumulation of the requirements and demands of the physical world. Do we succomb to this demand or do we meet it with equanimity enough not to loose track of who we are?

    But I am caught by the idea to "literalize" a tad this idea that we might have specific heavenly treasures. I appreciate the response but it seems no one has any of their personal treasures to share.

    Fair enough.
     
  10. JoshuaTree

    JoshuaTree Flowers are red?

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    Let's both believe that popularity on RF isn't a heavenly treasure lol. I personally can see no appeal of literal treasures in heaven.
     
  11. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Jesus said....“Be on the alert and on guard against every kind of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)

    Storing treasures on earth is discouraged because as Jesus says, we can't buy our life and no amount of wealth will secure it. Jesus also said that "it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God".

    Something we have worked for all our lives can be lost in a moment.....a flood...a fire...a landslide....any disaster could result in losing copious amounts of accumulated wealth....but what good is all the money in the world if we lose our lives?...."you can't take it with you"...right? If all our efforts have been to accumulate wealth for selfish reasons, then they are of no real value to God or to the person who owns them. The time could have been more productively spent in acquiring spiritual riches.

    So "treasures in heaven" also have to be worked for. These are the things 'treasured' by God...our Christian works....our obedience to God's commands...our thoughtfulness in helping fellow humans in distress....all the things Jesus did and taught, if they are applied, are accredited to our heavenly 'bank account'.

    Treasure can be hidden and once we know they are there, we will spare no effort to bring them to the surface.....this applies to material treasures but also to spiritual ones. How willing are we to dig in God's word for the copious gems that are hidden from cursory readers?

    Effort is always rewarded by God, but the effort must have the goal of making a person spiritually rich...the only real wealth that has everlasting value.

    That is how I see things.
     
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  12. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Agreed but still...friendships not a treasure?

    I am beginning to think that I have found another little sore spot in the creative imagination of Christians. I have to think that there are Christians who have learned to place value in the emotional aspects of life or the abstract aspects as their personal "treasures" above and beyond the material treasures. I think that there is a large grey area where one can navigate towards a more and more spiritual emphasis on one's treasures and less and less on the physical. But apparently this is no where near a common thought.
     
  13. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    I have been making a slow progress through a close study of Genesis for years now via online forums. It is a sort of church for me. I have kept a record of my questions and the responses made. I hope to go back and write up my learning and describe what I have found through that study. To me this is precisely like the work of obtaining a treasure. Now there is ambiguity here in that I sometimes hope that it becomes a book that gets published and makes me money, but I know that is not what sustains me in this work and that is not what will provide me the ultimate value.

    Now this work is kept in a physical form so it is subject to theft and loss, but as it is stored in the cloud. There theft and loss take on a new meaning. But with a copy of my document stored both on my system and in the Google cloud there is never only one point of failure. That is my "property" is stored in a secure way such that theft is a copy and loss is protected by redundancy.

    For me this technology allows me to place value in something that is much less susceptible to loss than perhaps anything Jesus' audience had thought about. It is a storage of the treasure of learning and studying of the Word and the wisdom I hope I have derived from it. Is this not, in part, a treasure stored in heaven?
     
  14. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    This is fallen human nature at work.....we are all in the same boat as far as that is concerned....looking to benefit ourselves in any given situation...but if we are following Jesus' example, it is self-sacrifice that brings God's approval. Jesus did not have a sinful nature to fight 24/7...but we do. As Paul said..."For the flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do the very things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17) How often do we feel disappointed in ourselves when we have allowed the flesh to win. :(

    It is a human system, so not one that can be relied upon to remain incorrupt. Storing of data is one thing...what they will end up using it for may shock us in the future. Our privacy is something we value, but we are entrusting our privacy more and more to people we don't really know and who could, in the future, use it against us. There is so much now that appears to be beneficial...but would be frightening if used against us in some way.
    Those we thought would protect us, may turn out to be our worst enemies unless we are strictly compliant. Freedom and Democracy are really an illusion IMO. Our 'perceptions' of everything are being carefully 'managed' without us even being aware of it.

    I guess that depends on what you do with it. A treasure can be stored away in a vault, but what is the point? If I have a 5 million dollar diamond necklace that I can never wear for fear of it being stolen, what is the point of owning it? If, on the other hand, I sold that necklace to someone who really wanted it and had the cash, and then used that 5 million dollars to benefit others, then I have sacrificed my earthly treasure for the kind that Jesus encouraged. The two primary requirements of those who follow Christ are 1) to love God with everything we are, and everything we have...and 2) to love our neighbor as ourselves. Both are required in equal measure.

    The Bible says that we are all to follow in Jesus' footsteps and to emulate his example. He live a simple life of service to others. There were no material things to get in the way of his mission. He did not tell us to live an austere life, but to keep material things in their place.

    The apostle Paul wrote at 1 Timothy 6:6-10..."To be sure, there is great gain in godly devotion along with contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. 8 So, having food and clothing, we will be content with these things. But those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge men into destruction and ruin. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains."

    This is so true....the love of money is a trap. Jesus said..."No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches." They are opposite courses.

    I once heard a saying that hit the nail on the head for me...."Contentment means wanting what you have, not having what you want". It's a good rule of thumb especially if we live in a materialistic country where the latest 'thing' is always promoted and people follow like sheep because they fall for the hype...being parted from their money like animals to the slaughter. Recognizing the manipulation will help us not to lose our focus. I think we all need a wake up call. :eek:
     
  15. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    How does one actually work through a process of letting go of one's covetousness? How did you do it...if you have done it?

    I understand the goal...what about the actual, human, modern experience? No Bible quotes...just personal facts (without getting too personal).

    My own effort is due to the threat, last summer, of losing my home and most of my possessions to forest fire. So i have actually lived through a threat to the effect that this scripture speaks of. What has your experience been?

    I'm not one to believe that it is necessary or desirable to dispossess myself of all physical property. I suspect that very few Christians are. That would, after all, interfere with the practical job of being fruitful and multiplying. At the same time I am always on the lookout for the temptations of wealth. I recognize that a desire to collect is just such a thing. But I do not kid myself that I am above all that completely. It is a goal I strive for and in striving I look to also acknowledge the difficulties and the successes. Such an attitude, I think, is critical to being successful in the endeavor and to providing a good role model for the same.

    So readers of this thread, I invite you to inspire me with your own tales of the abandonment of your worldly possessions or your "detachment" (in the Hindu sense) from them.

    Let's get real!
     
  16. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    How much can one sacrifice one's self? Having sacrificed once is that enough?

    If a person falls in a deep hole, are they to only accept a foothold if it is outside of that hole? Or do they find a place in the hole to start their ascent?

    Can you really separate the flesh from the spirit or is this always a gray area that one navigates? Are the words pure spirit in spite of the ear and the tongue and the eye that knows those words?

    I appreciate your words, and I don't think that you are trying to judge me at all. But I think that it is time that Christians stop pointing at the Bible for all their answers as if the Bible were their only voice of experience. I think that this was the very thing that Jesus came for...to awaken us up out of our complacency with scripture and rules and to really look at ourselves. It is all too easy to just debate the scriptures as if it were a logical rule book through which we can judge others through Monday morning quarterbacking against that playbook.

    Sure, I understand that the cloud is imperfect...believe me. It is a primary aspect of the job my team at work does to understand this.

    Your pessimism regarding freedom and democracy seems a bit paranoid here. Are you really living in fear of one of the greatest accomplishments (and in no small part did the Judeo-Christian belief system play a role in this) of humanity to enable the freedom of everyone to pursue their happiness in the way that they please? Even if that freedom includes worshipping God? Do you really believe that?

    The internet, as it stands, is highly unmanaged. Foreign governments are using it to manipulate American discourse. There are always conflicting opinions about just about anything to be found if you want to find it. How can we be possibly managed in our perceptions by our government under those circumstances?

    What about a 5 dollar necklace?

    If you love God with everything you are and have, please share your story in a way relevant to this thread.

    Again I appreciate what you are saying but it has been said ad nauseum. It is time for Christians to be a little more real and a little less "don't talk about me, let's just talk about the Bible." Let's raise the level of Christian discourse to what Jesus would want, humble, personal introspection, mutual caring and personal growth through the word.

    I've read the textbook, now its time for some lab work people!
     
  17. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    The one thing Jesus taught was balance....not too much...not too little. I know you didn't want scripture but it forms the basis for everything I believe....Proverbs wisely says ..."give me neither poverty nor riches. That was because material riches can make one's life content enough not to need God. (Proverbs 30:8-9) Somewhere in the middle is where we need to be.

    When we see Jesus discouraging the chasing after wealth, he wasn't at the same time recommending poverty or austerity. There were rich and poor and everything in between in Jewish society back then, just as there is today.....he was not judging them but simply warning of the dangers of becoming complacent in a materialistic way. Spiritual things should have first place. (Matthew 6:33)

    It isn't 'covetousness' to want nice things....we are designed to appreciate beautiful and useful things.....coveting is when we allow desire for those things, (advertised on the media and possessed by others who like to flaunt them) to dominate our thinking and take over our focus. We all need to make a living...but we don't need to create a lifestyle where we see luxuries as necessities. The world of today can't tell the difference. We have to learn to do that because the influence around us is going in the opposite direction. We have to be the proverbial salmon swimming in the opposite direction to a powerful tide.

    Its all about the balance and what we see as priorities. No one said it was going to be easy, but taking our ques from Jesus is a good place to start evaluating how we feel about what we own. How important are they to us? If we lost them all tomorrow, would we recover quickly or be devastated forever? How attached are we? Asking those questions is a good place to start IMO.
     
  18. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    If you remember it was the written "letter of the Law" that Jews had to keep...scrupulously. They didn't have to think for themselves because it was all laid out for them....and guess what? They still blew it. What do we learn from this? That laws in themselves do not make people obedient....that has to come from the reasoning of the heart. Its "why" we are obedient that matters. God is more concerned with "why" you do something that "that" you do it mindlessly. He is constantly reading our thought processes and motives because these always precipitate actions. Can you see the wisdom in that?

    Jesus came and abolished the letter of the Law (as in mere mindless performance) and emphasized the spirit behind it. e.g. Jesus said that if a man keeps looking at a woman (to whom he is not married) so as to have lust for her and he does not immediately dismiss those sinful thoughts, opportunity is the only thing standing in his way. As far as Jesus is concerned, he has already done the deed in his heart. Do we get the import of what Jesus is saying? We are all sinful and will have sinful thoughts at times...but like anything you feed...it will grow. Jesus says to starve out that thought...kill it before it has a chance to grow.

    Well, awakening us out of our complacency is a very individual thing IMO. How can a Christian stop pointing to the Bible for all their answers? If we don't take our ques from Jesus, who else are we going to listen to? Christianity is not about rigid performance to a set of rules. It is who, and what we are, 24/7. It is a reasoned and logical adherence to a set of rules that God himself made for us. If we have a Christian mindset, then this should not create any hardship for us. If we need help, then the Bible and the holy spirit are there to reinforce our resolve to do better. God has never expected perfection from imperfect people....but at the same time, he will not accept excuses either.

    Asking how others have put these things into practice is only looking to see how they as individuals in their own unique circumstance may have behaved. But I believe the "how to" for us as individuals, is up to us and the relationship we personally have with God to start with. If we have a greater desire to please God than to please ourselves, it will happen naturally....it will not have to be forced.

    That my friend is all part of the illusion. Ask the homeless about freedom. How many of them are used up veterans who thought they were fighting for freedom and democracy? How has it repaid them? Ask the innocent ones in prison as victims of an unjust legal system how they feel about freedom. Ask the ones who are dealing with drug addicted parents, children or partners how free they are from violence in their own homes. Do you live in a bubble? Are you blinded by the illusion too? Do you understand how propaganda works?

    I think you just answered your own question. My "pessimism" is founded on Bible prophesy which places us at the "time of the end". Rather than live in fear, I actually welcome what is coming, difficult and all as it might be to live through it. The outcome will mean true peace, real freedom and unending peace for all, not just for the privileged few.

    In Luke 21 is Jesus' account of the events that will precede the end of the present system of things....we have witnessed just about all of them. Jesus then said..."But as these things start to occur, stand up straight and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is getting near.” (v 28) It is nothing to dread.

    Again, it is about balance. Is a $5 necklace an extravagance? I don't think so. But if I saw someone who could do with the $5, realistically who would I sell a $5 necklace to? Its about what our own hearts impels us to do. But remember that we are flawed and sinful, so there will always be extremes of too zealous or too slack....find the middle ground and be content to do what you can when you see a need. That is all Jesus asks of us. e.g. If I was going to buy myself a $5 coffee and I saw a homeless person who could do with it it instead of me, then wouldn't it be nice to do a random act of kindness and feel good about it all day? No one had to know except me and the homeless person.....and of course, God.

    What is the lab work? How people follow the textbook is really up to them. But balance is the key.

    I have been a JW for over 45 years and for us, random acts of kindness are part of our ministry. We engage in our door to door preaching as you know, and when we see a need we will do our best to help anyone we come across who genuinely needs some assistance. We don't have "charities" with people at the top who rake in huge salaries, because Jesus promoted self-sufficiency, not hand-outs. So when we see a need, we do our best in our individual circumstances fill that need. It can be as simple as running an errand for someone who is too ill to go to the store or the pharmacy. Doing a bit of shopping or any small thing that might help someone who is in genuine need goes a long way to show people our "Christianity" in action. We will not be taken advantage of though....too many who utilize charities are just bone lazy and have no desire to change their ways. "God helps those who help themselves" is a good saying.

    We teach people the truth from God's word and how to be self-sufficient, not how to be reliant on the generosity of others. It sorts the sheep from the goats pretty quickly. We will give people a hand up, but not a hand out. That to me, is true Christianity in action. (1 Timothy 6:3-8)
     
  19. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    I know what Jesus taught...what have you learned? What have you experienced? What can you validate through personal testimony?

    When a Christian can only talk about Jesus without sharing their own personal story they end up sounding preachy and insincere. Let's get real.
     
  20. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Is repeating the lessons of scripture without including yourself just another form of not having to think or feel about scripture? Aren't you doing exactly what Jesus was teaching against?

    Yes. Now about how you deal with money and wealth...

    Queue yes...so what happens after that?...How has the Word impacted you? What specifically, related to this topic, have you experienced as a personal testimony of the truth of this particular scripture?

    So there is no practical value in discussing personal matters? Wow! That's scary.

    I understand that good and evil are always mixed...been that way since God tempted Adam in the Garden...

    Now I'm really scared...

    Taking that prophecy as literal is like waiting for a deadline that has long since passed...

    Thank you Jesus.

    Sorry but I believe the Word is for people not sheep.

    Peace.
     
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