I look back fondly on my time as a pirate.
It was a long time ago when I took up the life of a fearsome buccaneer. I was seven years old, I think, and my time of employment in the profession only lasted a couple of hours, but I still remember it with warm memories. I didn’t do as much swashbuckling as I’d hoped, but I was able to spend a good deal of time attacking unsuspecting golf balls with an unwieldy metal club in the hope that this time, just maybe, I could coerce the ball toward the general direction of the hole for which it was intended. Blackbeard was the scourge of the seven seas; I was the scourge of eighteen hapless par-3 mini-golf courses.
One of my fondest memories of that time, aside from the overpriced pirate hat my parents purchased for me that I wear wore incessantly, was the acquisition of my gold doubloon. It was a token, I was told, that could be traded in at my pirate-y venue for a free round of golf. I never used it, of course, because what seven-year-old in his right mind trades in a piece of actual pirate treasure for one round of putt-putt?
No, that was my treasure, and for several years I kept it in a well-guarded shoebox under my bed. To the world, it was a useless piece of plastic with little value, but to me, it was a priceless artifact. I loved to take it out and look at it, pretending it was just one doubloon of a vast secret cache I had buried elsewhere for safe keeping. My days as Swashbuckler of the Open Fairway may have ended, but my love of shiny treasure certainly hadn’t.
One man’s trash…
Treasure is one of those words that can mean entirely different things to entirely different people. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and it couldn’t be more true. Something one person would be willing to toss in the garbage might mean the world to another. And treasure isn’t even limited to physical possessions—we can treasure memories, we can treasure people, we can treasure accomplishments. Anything we deeply value, tangible or not, becomes our treasure.
So we ought to take notice, then, when Christ warns the disciples, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Much as our seven-year-old selves might have wished for it once upon a time, we don’t all have chests stashed away, overflowing with pieces of eight and priceless gems. But we do all have treasures.
Heart of the problem
I think we all instinctively want to say that it’s the word of God…but is it really? Christ gave us a powerful litmus test: we find our treasure where we find our hearts. We’re going to seek it at every opportunity—after basic survival needs, our treasure is whatever we make the most time for.
Sometimes I’m ashamed of what my treasure becomes. All too often it becomes a new TV show, or a game, or personal project that soaks up hours of my week while I struggle to find a few minutes for focused Bible study. There’s nothing wrong with having hobbies and interests, and there are a lot of great things to be involved in—the problem is when those same hobbies and interests become more alluring treasures than our calling. The problem is when our heart takes up residence with a treasure that starts to mean more to us than the invitation to join the family of God.
It sounds impossible when it’s put that way. How could anything possibly mean more to us than that? How could a five-hour Netflix binge on some newly discovered TV show become more important than exploring the holy scriptures preserved for us by the Creator of the universe? How could a single attraction of this world become a higher priority than developing the Godly character we need to find a place in the eternal Kingdom of God?
The most incredible gift
I don’t know if there’s a simple solution to all this—if there is, I sure haven’t found it yet. All I know is that in my life, it’s something I need to constantly reevaluate. There are a million and one different potential treasures in this life, and not all of them are bad things—they’re just things that we can’t allow to take the place of God.
You have been given the most incredible gift in the entire universe. The God who shaped the entirety of space and time wants you in His family. He wants to guide you down the path to eternal life, and He sent His Son as a sacrifice just to make that journey possible.
Enjoy the good things of this life, but remember that our hearts belong with only one treasure—and we must constantly endeavor to make certain they remain there.
Until next time,