Having God for Our Treasure
The Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said toHim.(Deuteronomy 10:9)
The anonymous author of the quaint old English classic The Cloud of Unknowing teaches us how to make God our all. “Lift up thine heart unto God with a meek, stirring of love; and mean Himself, and none of His goods. And thereto, look thee loath to think on aught but Hod Himself. This is the work of the soul that most pleaseth God.”
Again, he recommends that in prayer we practice further stripping down of everything, even our theology. “For it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself.” Yet underneath all his thinking lay the broad foundation of New Testament truth, for he explains that by “Himself” he means “God that made thee and bought thee, and that graciously called thee to thy degree.” And he is all for simplicity; If we would have religion “lapped and folded in one word, for that thou shoudst have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable; for it is better than of two, for even the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit.And such a word is this word God or this word love.”
The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must let them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.
It is difficult to separate the gift from the giver or the provision from the provider. But in healthy relationships, it is always the person and never what they bring that is of utmost importance. Marriage vows reflect this concept. “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health……..” What the vows are attempting to address is that the relationship between the couple has nothing to do with circumstances but everything to do with love. It must be noted today with the rise of prenuptial agreements and marriage contracts that the union is becoming more about the gift or provision rather than the person.
The desire of a God is to have a relationship with us that has nothing to do with provision or gift. Though He delights in blessing His children, His heart is after their love and fellowship. That’s how it began in the Garden.
Three stories in the Bible show us this concept is a living way. The first story is the story of Lot and his family. They had become so attached with their possessions and position that the angels literally had to force them to leave so they wouldn’t perish in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We read that possessions were so important to Lots wife that she looked back and became a pillar of salt.
The second story, that of Job, gives both sides of the coin. We read that Job lost everything but continued in his worship to God. Here we see a human who had made God and not His gifts or provision the object of his heart. In this same story, we see the other side, Job’s wife who after losing it all responds with, “tell God to take a hike”. It’s obvious that her relationship with God was contingent on His provision and when the provision was gone so was the relationship.
The third story is that of Paul. From his biography we read that Paul was at the pinnacle of life when he met Christ. He was the very picture of a successful Hebrew and Pharisee. After his conversion, he literally lost it all. The standing in the community, his future and eventually his life. Hear his words,
“though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Let me give us the words of Christ on this subject,
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
As a human, I’ve discovered that it’s a delight to do things or give to those that love and appreciate me as a person. While I may provide a service or an act of kindness to those who only interact with me when they have a need, I must confess that I will go the extra mile to appreciative people. While God is always generous and kind, shouldn’t we simply love Him for who His is even if He never blessed us with anything?
Dr. John Thompson