February 25, 2017
In almost all cultures, there are stories about treasure. From my youth, I remember King Midas and Long John Silver on Treasure Island. In my young mind, I could envision having a golden touch or digging up a treasure chest. How amazing it would be to have no financial worries and to live like a king.
However, treasure has its problems. It is difficult to keep. Jesus said that moth and rust will consume it and thieves will break in and steal it. King Midas learned that having a golden touch was more of a curse than a blessing. Long John comes back to his treasure chest, but it is empty. In the movie “The Hobbit”, the Dwarf Kings are driven mad by the hoard of gold in their keep, and even after a dragon drives them away, they dream and long to return to it. They would have agreed with Jesus when he said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
As I consider my life, I look to see where my heart has been and where it is now. This shows me what I really value and what has priority in my life. Here lies the root of the problem and it shows why I do not repent and do not forgive from the heart. Here are some of the things I treasure.
I treasure my body.
I have spent a lot of time on my body, caring for it and pleasing it. It really is quite shameful how much time and money I have spent on it. An elder was sitting in the marketplace with some of his disciples, when a woman appeared with an entourage. She was a great beauty dressed in the finest apparel. Her hair was perfect and her makeup flawless. The elder began to weep and his disciples asked if her appearance had offended him. “No,” he replied, “she shames me.” The disciples were quite puzzled. How could this woman shame so great an elder? Seeing their confusion, he said, “Consider how much time she must spend on her appearance. By comparison, I spend so little time in prayer. She is more dedicated to her “god” than I am to mine.” This is one reason why the Lenten fast is so troubling. My body does not like being denied of time and attention. Yes, where my treasure is, there has my heart been also.
I treasure my pride.
We know that pride is a terrible sin and that “pride goes before a fall.” Despite this, we cling to a deep sense of personal pride. In Church, we sing “Lord, have mercy” many times. However, a theologian recently wrote that many in the Orthodox Church do not really believe that they are sinners. This is demonstrated by how little they go to confession. We say the words, but truthfully, we believe we are good people, and think of ourselves as loving and kind and intelligent and right. This prideful reality shows why we cannot forgive “from the heart.” We are offended when anyone by word or behavior challenges this inner prideful sense of goodness. We might even say that we forgive, but we cannot forget. Most times, this means that we have not really forgiven at all. Yes, where my treasure is, there has my heart been also.
I treasure my mind.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in book stores. I am always amazed at the amount of information humans can manufacture. I have spent a lot of money on books, and often I only read part of them. They remain in the bookcase as silent reminders of my mental laziness. I treasure my mind, but I do not fill it with knowledge. I fill it with junk and then I am surprised when all I get out of it is junk. The food of my mind is trivial entertainment. There is no way that I can measure the hours spent on music, TV, magazines, movies, etc.
I can only imagine how I would be if I had spent that time not in trivial pursuit, but in gaining true knowledge. This is one reason why the development of my spiritual life is so slow and incomplete. As. St. Paul notes, I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. That renewal is not of the grey matter between my ears, but my inner spiritual mind (nous) by which I would know God. That spiritual mind I did not treasure. I did not believe that a true theologian is one who prays. I thought a true theologian was one who was smart. Yes, where my treasure is, there has my heart been also.
There are other things that I have treasured, but this is enough for now. It is my prayer that someday my heart will show that I came to treasure that which is in heaven. Such a treasure cannot be taken away even by a dragon.
If I have offended anyone, I ask for your forgiveness. As much as my pride will allow, I do forgive you and I know that God forgives.
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