Where Are Your Treasures?
In his book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, Tim Keller writes: “When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’ It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger.”
This message is both deeply Biblical and pointedly relevant to our modern lives. In Exodus 20:3, God commands that we are to place no other gods before Him and Matthew 6:19-21 tells us: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Simply put, our focus should be on the eternal rather than the temporal, and our pursuits heavenly rather than earthly. Our hearts should be focused on the Kingdom of God above all else.
As law students, it is easy to fall into the trap of evaluating ourselves on the basis of our grades, our credentials, and our standing amongst our peers. Our environment impresses upon us values of status, prestige, and human achievement. We make idols for ourselves out of these things, believing that they will bring us happiness and lasting satisfaction. Yet these are all merely distractions—cheap counterfeits of what the human soul truly seeks at its core: to know God.
This realization comes through both success and failure. When we succeed, we recognize that our worldly success lacks meaningful substance. When we fail, we recognize the demoralizing process of seeking salvation by means of our own works. Only through serving Him do we store our treasures in heaven, and doing so requires abandoning our idols.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, consider the ways in which you can experience gratitude for how God works through our successes and failures to bring us closer to Him, and ultimately for the salvation we have through Jesus Christ.