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Thoughts From Martin Copenhaver

Dear Friends,

Today's "thought" presents an interesting perspective on a very familiar verse of Scripture. It's one of the reasons I tend to read widely. We can often gain new insights on verses of Scripture whose message we thought we knew entirely, and thus tended to skim right over.

The following devotion about Jesus' well-known words regarding our treasure and its relation to our hearts, is taken from "The Gospel In Miniature" by Martin Copenhaver. I have sent out selections from his book before, as I have enjoyed his perspective, and his many down-to-earth insights. Today's selection is no different.

Your Heart Will Follow
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“Jesus’s statement, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” may sound familiar, but if we don’t read it with care, we might reverse the statement through a kind of scriptural dyslexia. We might read it to say, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” That would make sense to us, because our dollars often follow our heart’s lead. We give to what matters to us. But that isn’t what Jesus said.

Think of the appeal you hear over and over again from, say, National Public Radio or your alma mater: If you care about this institution, you will write a check. In other words, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” But Jesus didn’t say that. Jesus is speaking of a different dynamic: He is saying give and spend where you want your heart to be, and then let your heart catch up. Don’t just give to those things you care about. Give to the things you want to care about. Ask yourself, “If I were the sort of person I long to be, then what would I do? How would I spend my money?” Then do what you would do if you were that sort of person. Put your treasure where you want your heart to be. And if you do, Jesus says, your heart will go there.

If you want to care more about the kind of car you drive, buy an expensive one. If you want to care more about property values, remodel your house. But if you want to grow in your faith, bring an offering to God. Wherever your treasure is, your heart is sure to follow.

Prayer: O God, fashion my spending and my giving in ways that refashion my heart. Amen."

As a pastor I have always said: "Only God can change hearts." I still hold that to be true. Yet, that doesn't mean we passively sit back and do nothing when it comes to making decisions and changing certain habits in our lives. God works His will in and through all things, not in complete isolation from them. He calls us to repent and believe, though we can't apart from His grace. He calls us to do what is right, just and good, though we are dependent upon His grace to do them. In fact, the strength we need to do anything comes from Him in whom "we live and breathe and have our being" (Acts 17:25). Jesus is not using hyperbole or gross exaggerating when He says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." For apart from God's grace and life-sustaining power (which could be taken from us at any moment if He should so choose) our hearts would cease to beat, our blood would cease to flow, and our lungs would cease to breathe. Though many are skeptical, we are far more dependent upon Him than we will ever know this side of glory.

Yet, what we can do, we are called to do (and even responsible to do), remembering that, "it is God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). The words of the apostle Paul convey this seeming contradiction so well where he says of the other apostles, "I worked harder than all the rest, yet it was not I, but the grace of God that was in me" (I Cor. 15:10). We must do what we can, believing and praying the entire time that our merciful God will be pleased to use it in the process of changing the affections and direction of our lives. It reminds me of an anonymous quote I came across years ago: "He who moves one inch toward God through doubtings dim, God will move one mile in blazing light toward him."

Or as one friend shared in a prayer this morning (which fits so well with all this in expressing our dependence upon God's grace):

"Father, what we know not, teach us;
What we have not, give us;
What we are not, make us --
For the sake of your Son. Amen."

In His Grace and for His Glory, Pastor Jeff


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