“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.” Matt 6:19-21; NIV
My treasure is there. It is not here. My children are here, but even they will be there, one day. Everything that matters to me is there or will be there soon. It wasn't always this way, for me; it is something that I gained through the loss of things that are here.
The Old Testament introduces the idea of tithing. It is the idea that ten percent of your income should be set aside for the Lord, and it was used in support of the temple and the tribe of Israel who attended to it. Essentially, the 10% provided for the one tribe in twelve that dedicated themselves to ministry and did not otherwise support themselves. This is logically why it is 10%.
The New Testament is absent of this idea, which makes some sense when you recognize there is no longer ten percent of the population needing support. Many people talk about stewardship as the driving principle for giving in the New Testament, rather than tithing. If you consider that all your wealth comes from God, then you should be generous with what you have -- this is what is said. I think that's true, but this isn't a principle that is explicitly described, as far as I know.
I don't think giving is a rule to follow. I think it is the result of having your values set correctly. If you understand that the best of everything that this world offers is fleeting, you yearn for the things that last forever. You invest in those things. Sometimes the way you learn that things in this life are fleeting is to lose them.
In life you face no-win situations. These are situations where, no matter how much you devote yourself to something, it will never get the result you intended. With time and experience, you can detect these situations, and as soon as you do, you stop throwing your time, money and resources into them. You are better served saving your resources for something that will matter in the long haul. What lasts is what matters.
This life, if you look at it in terms of the best things money can buy, is a no-win situation. The best that this world offers brings pleasure which lasts for a while. That pleasure must come to an end. Eventually, we come to an end also. If we have invested in this world, in the end, we have nothing. Jesus uses the metaphor of moths, vermin and thieves who destroy the valuable things in this life to make this point. We nonetheless have the tendency to throw ourselves into the things of this world. They are compelling, they mute our pain, the pleasure controls us. The treasures we store up here bring happiness, of a sort. The idea of treasures in the kingdom of God seems remote. We are afraid to invest in what does not bring us the result we want and need at the moment.
The key is to understand that what we need is the thing that will remain forever.
Sometimes the way to gain Jesus' value is to lose everything, and allow the Lord to draw you into the riches of his love. Sometimes the way to get there is to take small steps in trusting him and investing in his kingdom -- small steps which lead to large ones. What I can tell you is that if you allow your perspective to change, your heart will change. This is Jesus' principle, for giving and for everything else. When your heart changes, you will long for the things he values. You will not need to be told to give, you will let it go. Your time, your wealth. It will be easy to do. The vision of what lies ahead will control you far more than the temporary things that hold you back. You will understand why men and women have given their lives rather than deny their savior. It will all make sense, and it will be your heart also. With that heart, you will find fulfillment and joy no matter what this life brings. And one day, the things you invested in will be there waiting for you.