When I was young, and my family would return from a long trip, I remember that my Dad would often say the same thing, as we came down the street of our small town to our home: “Well, the house is still there!” That might have seemed like a funny or unnecessary comment when I was a kid, but now that I am a homeowner myself, I completely understand it. In fact, whether or not I say the same thing to my own children, I have had this same sentiment when getting back to my own house1 after a trip.
In reality, though, things that we own are not permanent. Houses suffer under harsh weather. Cars break down. Clothes wear out. Technology becomes obsolete.
Jesus acknowledged the transient nature of what we “own” here on earth:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
MATTHEW 6:19-20 NASB
No matter how new and shiny of a car that I can afford, it will get dents in the parking lot (or even while still in the garage), the tires will wear down, and the “new car smell” will fade. It is pointless to pin our lives on the material things here on earth, because they are all destined to go away. If entropy doesn’t ruin them, this fallen world will be destroyed at the end of time (see 2 Peter 3:9-12).
It is tough to not get caught up in our possessions, though. I get frustrated when one of the family’s devices won’t boot up, or a drive crashes. I sigh at the cost to replace siding or roofing. I miss my favorite shirts when they get a stain that doesn’t come out in the laundry. Jesus isn’t surprised at our weakness, though. He offers this advice, instead:
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
MATTHEW 6:30-32 NASB
Note the reason that we can have assurance about these things: God knows what we need. Combined with His love for us, we find that our own worry is not only redundant with His all-knowing care for us, it is also pretty much useless in light of God’s superior power.
If I spend the entire vacation worrying about my house, I won’t get much benefit from the vacation itself, and I may as well have stayed home. The pictures and stories that the rest of my family brings back won’t be my own memories, and something that I can’t completely control (the safety of my home) will have controlled me, instead.
In the same way, if we focus our time, money, and energy on just things – rather than what is eternal: God, and the immortal souls He placed in human beings – we’re going to miss out on what really matters in life. After this brief life on earth is done, will we have spent it worrying about what we know will ultimately be broken, thrown out, or destroyed? Or, will we have invested our time in the relationships and actions that will produce results that we can continue to enjoy for eternity in Heaven?
- No, the house in the picture above is not my house. ↩