"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matt. 6:19). Last night (Sunday May 6th) I learned first hand the sobering reality that there are thieves out there, and that they do indeed break through (or into) and steal. For six years I have been the proud owner of a low mileage 1986 Chevrolet Suburban. While I slept someone broke into and drove away with that classic. Whether or not it will ever be recovered only the Lord knows at this point in time. I have gone through the various "stages" of neglect on my part for not providing a little more security to avoid the consequences that go with such dishonesty on the part of others, including shock, despair, anger, and calm and reflective meditation. After calling the insurance agent and learning that it was not covered for theft, I have resolved myself to the reality that it is highly unlikely that I will ever see that truck again. Sometimes it takes a hard cold slap in the face to wake us up to the force of what our Lord tells us regarding material things. Be that as it may, I have learned, and share with you the following observations.
First, there are those who have no scruples about taking what belongs to another. Unfortunately our society has its disproportionate share of thieves who break through and steal. It is the fruit of a world gone awry and a rejection of the principles of God's word that have produced an element in society who think, "What is yours is mine and I'll take it if I have the opportunity." Security systems with all the bells and whistles that are designed to discourage theft will not have any lasting effect upon the crime rate; such systems will only delay the thief's attack until he can catch up with the latest technology and circumvent any security system you might have at your disposal. The answer is not in smarter systems, or more technologically advanced monitors. The thief steals because he has a heart problem coupled with a soul that is sick with sin. Until we can address the inner man, all the social programs in the world will not rehabilitate or change the outer man.
Second, I am reminded that things are transient. The proverb writer said that "riches make to themselves wings" (Pro. 23:5). This is one reason why the Lord urges us to lay up treasures in heaven where thieves cannot break through and steal. Whether it be money, or things, nothing is exempt from the thief's evil intentions. A few weeks ago I had someone stop and ask Johnnie Ann if I would be interested in selling that old Suburban. "Not likely; that's his pride and joy." Hmmm ... I wonder; same person? Not likely. But that is something for another time! Here today; gone tomorrow! That about sums it up.
Third, I am reminded that "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made unto God" (Phil. 4:6). I think it was the late T.B. Larimore who once commented upon having his hat stolen by a thief: "I am thankful that it was another and not me that did the stealing. I am thankful that I was not wearing the hat at the time it was stolen. And I am thankful that it was only a hat that has been lost and not my life or injury to myself" [something to that effect]. Reflecting upon my run-in with the lower element of society I can truly say that I am thankful that it was only a 26year old Suburban that was stolen; that I was not IN the truck when it was taken; and that it was only a 26 year old truck that was lost, and not my life or personal well being. On the other hand, I am thankful that I have a treasure far greater than anything here upon this earth; a treasure that cannot be taken from me by anyone. Whether money or things, the following by George H. Lorimer is applicable:
Money can't buy friendship - friendship must be earned.
Money can't buy a clear conscience - square dealing is the price for it.
Money can't buy happiness - happiness is a mental attitude and one can be happy in a cottage as in a mansion.
Money can't buy sunsets, singing birds, the music in the wind - these are free as the air we breath.
Money can't buy peace - peace is the result of a constructive philosophy of life.
Money can't buy character - a character is what we are when we are alone with ourselves in the dark.
It is good to have money and things money can buy; but it is good t0o, to check up once in awhile and make sure you haven't lost the things money can't buy.
I like that. As one brother was fond of saying, "I wish I had written that!" In addition, I can also be thankful that this entire ordeal has given me a topic for this week's article!
Finally, I am reminded to be content with what I DO have rather than what I do NOT have. Mac Layton provided this wonderful illustration:
"As we drive our automobile we know that we have a vision that is both focal and marginal. The focal vision is on what is in front of us, what is important to see and know. The marginal vision is peripheral, what is secondary, off to the side. So, as we look at life, and our goal of eternal life, we know that things are secondary. They are necessary only for our existence here, not to be a chief objective of life, and not worth sacrificing real values to obtain or hold. The ultimate standard of anything is if it lasts."
The old truck may be gone, and there may still be other temporal things that will be stolen or destroyed in my lifetime. But this one thing I know, no thief on earth can reach into my soul and rob me of the hope that I have of eternal life. No thief has the power to take my peace from me. No thief can destroy the joy that is mine in Christ Jesus.