In 1859, men working the Willard Claim in Northern California found a 54-pound nugget, which they nicknamed the “Dogtown Nugget.” They discovered it at the foot of Sawmill Peak, a mere four miles from where I live in the town of Paradise. At the time, this was the largest gold nugget ever found, and it is still the largest ever located in California. At 54 pounds, that was a hunk of gold! But it was by no means the greatest treasure ever found.
Have you ever wondered how it would change your life if you “struck it rich”? While a few still take gold pans to the streams, far more people today play the lottery, hoping to be delivered from their financial problems if they get lucky enough. Unfortunately, many of those who do win the lottery are bankrupt in a few years, for they lack the discipline to handle large sums of money wisely.
Of course, bringing up the lottery always makes me frustrated. After all the years we’ve had one in California, I’ve never won anything, not even five dollars. One day a man was explaining to me what was the matter with my “system” for picking numbers. I don’t remember everything he said, but I think it had something to do with having to buy a ticket first. As I walked away, I’m pretty sure I mumbled something like, “Oh, a ticket…”
Seriously though, seeking treasure is a powerful motivating force for people. It sustained gold-rush prospectors through back-breaking labor in heat and cold, with poor food and primitive living conditions. It motivates millions to put hard-to-come-by dollars into the lottery, hoping for that one-in-multiple-millions winning ticket.
But there is a kind of treasure that is not as elusive as finding a huge gold nugget or picking a winning lottery number. There is a true treasure that gives us the assurance of eternal life, satisfies the soul, and fills the spirit with hope. Jesus said,
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
The “hidden treasure” He spoke of was discovering the kingdom of God. When it finally sunk in to me that Jesus loved me enough to die for me, to forgive every mistake I ever made or will ever make, to give me a better life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, I sold all that I had and purchased that field. Jesus didn't come into the world to condemn me (I do a pretty good job of that myself), but to save me. In fact, there is no condemnation at all to those who are in Christ Jesus, not one little bit (Romans 8:1). He came to assure us that God is good, that He loves us like a good Father, that He has a great plan for our lives, and that He wants us to succeed as parents, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.
Once it penetrated my thick skull how good God was, I thought to myself, I would be crazy not to pursue Him with everything I have. How about you? Do you need a map to hidden treasure? It’s found in the New Testament portion of the Bible. Only there will you discover the truth that Jesus loved you and me enough to die a horrible death on a cross, so that you and I could be reconciled to the Father and discover true inward treasure—the indescribable experience of having God the Father’s loving arms and personal presence wrapped around us in the midst of life's joys and trials.
- So is it wrong to have money? Absolutely not. God "has given us richly all things to enjoy." (1 Timothy 6:17) It's the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Gold, dollars, earnings, winnings, are simply tools in the hands of the wise. It only becomes wrong when people are willing to compromise their values and integrity in order to acquire wealth. The love of money, greed, covetousness, can drive people to step into many "snares" (deathtraps) and pierce themselves through with many sorrows.
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