These guys (and gals) have spent years and years amassing (hoarding) anything they can get their hands on. They fill their garages to the brim with piles of bicycles, movie posters, old television sets, and tools, and once the garages fill up, they build more buildings. Sometimes they fill their yards, too. Everywhere you look, it’s junk, junk, and more junk.
But these people don’t see it as junk. To them, it’s treasure.
The haggling that takes place when Mike and Frank want to make a purchase always intrigues me. Usually, they ask the seller what he wants for the item, and 9 times out of 10, the price is way too high. So then the bargaining begins. To see the faces of these “collectors” when they realize that someone is daring to lessen the value of their prized possessions is eye-opening. You see, something happens when we surround ourselves with the “stuff” of this world.
Pretty soon, we lose touch with reality.
Last night, I saw a guy who’d spent years and years digging out tunnels under his home just to store his possessions. This guy was a little eccentric anyway, but once you made the journey into the “caves,” you realized just how eccentric. Vegetable cans held mounds of earth back. An old wooden refrigerator was doing the job of a wall. One “room” had 6,000 brightly painted two-by-fours, and another was piled with plungers.
Yes, I said plungers.
And there in the heart of the earth I saw the heart of man.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 NIV)
Sometimes we love our “stuff” so much that we rarely come out above ground to see the sunshine. And when God asks us to “sell” it, to give it up for Him, we hold tightly and haggle with high numbers. Many times our response is simply, “That’s not for sale.”
And the Lord who has picked us to be His children walks away empty-handed.
There is a story in scripture that I’m sure most of us have heard. It’s about a guy known to us as the rich young ruler. He comes to Jesus to ask, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) The answer Jesus gives isn’t exactly what the young man was hoping for. He wasn’t told to give more money to the church or sell off a couple of his sheep. Jesus answered him and said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v. 21) The next verse is the most disheartening.
“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (v. 22).
Don’t misunderstand the point here. Jesus is not saying that we can’t be His followers if we have a nice house or own clothes and shoes. He is saying that when our wealth (job, car, house, family, friends, pride, accomplishments, desire to belong, etc.) becomes so important to us that we’re unwilling to trade it for eternal life, something is wrong.
We can’t take up our cross if our hands are too full.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46 NIV)