For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21.
It was December 17, 1903. Orville and Wilbur Wright, owners of a bicycle sales and repair shop in Dayton, Ohio had just made the first self-powered flight in an airplane, against a 27 mile and hour wind, in Kittyhawk, North Carolina. They sent a telegram to their sister in Dayton: “First sustained flight, 59 seconds. Home for Christmas.” Elated at their success, their sister took the telegram to the local newspaper. Next day, on page 16, just below the obituaries, the paper ran this notice: “Local bicycle merchants are to spend the holidays at home.” Can you believe it? It was truly one of the great events of the century, an event that would change the course of world history. But they missed it! They had the information in their hands, but they missed it – they did not understand and appreciate its significance.
Roy Whetstine (as reported in Newsweek, November 24, 1986) bought a “rock” from a “rock hound” at a mineral show in Arizona. Paid him $10.00 for it. That “rock” was the largest sapphire known in the world at that time, valued at $2.28 million. Do you wonder how the finder and first owner could possibly have missed it? Why did he not recognize what he had in his hand? Do you suppose he spent a lot of time “kicking himself” because of his error? Of course he might be able to buy it back, but not for $10.00.
How many people have or have access to some great treasure, or some piece of information that could change the course of their lives forever – but they do not recognize it or appreciate its worth. So they ignore it. They let a great treasure slip through their fingers, and are often unable to regain possession of it. Treasure is “real treasure” to a person only if he has eyes to see it, only if one is able to recognize it for what it is (Matthew 13:44-46).
How many parents know the real value of their children? How many children really understand the value of godly parents? How many men and women realize the great treasure they have in a godly wife or husband?
What value do you place on your copy of the Bible? If it was stolen or misplaced, when would you become aware of it? If you are just talking about the literal book – you may have paid $25-$100 for it in a bookshop – then the loss isn’t all that great and can be easily replaced. But the real treasure of the Bible is its contents, the words of God. What if those words were taken away and you never had access to them again? Would you realize what was lost? We need to have the values of Job, who said, “I have treasured the words of the Lord’s mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).
What value do you place upon the church, both the world-wide church and the local congregation of it? The price Jesus Christ paid for it is something nobody else can ever pay: the life of a perfectly innocent and sinless man who was willing to pay the price (Acts 20:28). All the saved are in it (Acts 2:47, Ephesians 5:23). All who remain outside it are eternally lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8). What if the church in your community disappeared and you had no access to it ever again? Would you realize what you had lost?
Of course the greatest treasure to any person is his own soul – worth more than a paltry $2.28 million, or any other dollar figure you could come up with. It is worth more to the person than all the world put together (Mt. 16:24-26). And we have in our hands the information about how to save the soul, how to secure it for eternity (Mark 16:15 ff, Acts 2:38 ff, 2 Peter 1:1-11). We know how to help each other to praise God and our Savior, the Christ in his church and how to help each one secure his own soul in the fellowship of the Lord’s people (Ephesians 4:11-16). Tragically, most people in the world will be eternally embarrassed and eternally remorseful because, by ignoring the word of God and the church of the Lord, they lost their greatest treasure, their own eternal soul. I hope you will not be one of them.
~ Gerald Cowan ~
(Minister of the church of Christ at Dongola, Illinois)