I love to read over the gospel passages on the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season. This year, the verse that stood out to me the most was Luke 2:19 where, after the shepherds came to see the Christ child, Scripture records that “…Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The young woman had received an angelic visitation declaring to her that she would be the earthly mother of the Son of God, she had heard her relative Elizabeth declare that the Babe inside her womb was indeed the Lord, she had been the beneficiary of grace from Joseph who not only did not divorce her when he found she was with child but had himself been told of Jesus’ divine origin through a heavenly dream and was willing to marry her and care for the upcoming Little One, and now, just after giving birth, she along with her husband and Newborn were visited by a group of shepherds who declared that they had been visited by an angelic host declaring to them that the Babe lying before them in the manger was the Savior of the world, Christ the Lord! Now, to be sure, there would be many burdens (such as: hearing people talk behind your back questioning the true nature of Jesus’ birth, seeing the religious leaders reject your Son, seeing the crowd cry out for the crucifixion of the Babe you once held in your arms) mixed in with the blessings of bearing the Son of God, but Mary had much to “treasure” regarding Jesus. I think I would be safe to say that all believers agree we have much to treasure in Jesus and that we need to treasure Him more and more each day that we live. So, as we are now past Christmas on the calendar and entering the New Year, I felt led to give some illustrations that will help us to examine our hearts this year to see if we are truly treasuring the Lord.
We Display What We Treasure…I worked the entire week before Christmas. Mom was off that week. (Yes, I needed to repent of jealousy and envy!). One of the days during that week on my way to teach in downtown Lehigh I dropped Benji off at mom and dad’s house in the suburbs of Lehigh! When I went to pick him up that evening he insisted that I come into the house to partake of the brownies he and mama had made earlier in the day. What was a dad to do?! I went in and while eating the wonderful treats, I saw the latest pictures of Benji in frames on the wall, attached to magnets on the refrigerator, and placed on plaques in the bookcases. Now granted, there were lots of pictures of me there as well, (though I think I’m increasingly being replaced!). Someone coming into that house might not know much about her grandson and perhaps some cold-hearted, sin-sick, God-forsaken soul might not ever care to know much about him because to them he isn’t important, but what no one could ever doubt is that the boy displayed in all of those pictures was very much treasured by his grandmother.
Would someone who saw what we display know that we treasure Jesus? By that, I don’t mean having pictures of Christ adorning every wall of our homes. I’m not even talking about having a copy of the Bible in every room, although that would probably be a step in the right direction! In fact, I’m not even really thinking about the houses where we live and receive mail. I’m speaking of the “displays” that our bosses see when they ask us to do a task, or the “display” our coworkers see when the boss has left the room. How about the “displays” others see when someone pulls out in front of us on the road, or takes our place in the line at Wal-Mart, or treats us in ways other than how we would like to be treated? The way we live our lives, our reactions to situations and circumstances, walking in the fruit of the Spirit (or the lack thereof) “display” what we treasure. Are we treasuring Christ?
We Speak About What We Treasure…Ever since he was born I have taken Benji with me to buy gifts for his mommy for Christmas, her birthday, and Mother’s Day. In the first two years I pretty much made the decisions about what to buy and there were no detours through the toy department, but over the years (now he has reached the ripe age of 6!) he has increasingly had more of an opinion and there’ve been a few excursions to the aforementioned toy departments! Two days before Christmas this year we were out doing some last minute shopping for mommy when I happened to catch a glimpse of Mr. Pitura, the principal of the school where I teach. Now, Mr. Pitura and I have a good relationship. He even has a nickname for me; he calls me “Strunkie.” (I was once asked by an assistant principal if I was offended by the nickname. I told her “not at all”, I view it as “a term of employment”, or was that “a term of endearment!”) Still, had Benji not been with me I probably would have kept walking on my way unless Pitura noticed and acknowledged me in some way; not to be rude but because I could tell he was in a hurry as was I. But Benji was with me and Mr. Pitura had never met our precious boy before. I ran (okay, I walked fast) to catch Mr. Pitura and called out his name before he walked further on down the hall of the mall. He turned around and I introduced him to the best boy anyone could ever meet. I’m sure it was the highlight of his day, perhaps of his year, or even of his past half century if truth be told! Maybe Mr. Pitura didn’t quite treasure the introduction as much as did I, but one thing he could never doubt is that I treasure our boy.
Would someone who has a conversation with us know that we treasure Jesus? I realize that not every conversation is about religious matters, biblical issues, or spiritual concerns. That being said, haven’t you, like me, interrupted someone or changed the topic of discussion to interject some thoughts about a member of your family or the fried chicken you just had (yum!) or the salad you just ate (poor soul!) or the game you just watched or the shoes you just bought? Maybe your family or your tastes in food, sports teams, or fashion styles are not as important to those you talk to as they are to you, but others certainly know what you treasure by what you’re talking about. Are we willing to break into someone else’s day to tell them of Christ? Are we as willing to change the topic of discussion on a dime to speak of the Savior as we are to change the subject to speak of other things precious to us? What could be more important for them to hear? Should anything be as important for us to say? Are we treasuring Jesus?
We Give To What We Treasure…This year for the first time I’m teaching sixth grade exclusively. The other 3 years I’ve been involved with the public school system I taught seventh and eighth grades. There are many distinctions this year but one I’m particularly thankful for is that sixth graders aren’t allowed to use calculators! This is not only good because the students are forced to show more work and know how to do more math in their heads, but it’s also a blessing because I don’t have to spend $20 a month on calculators. Why would I have to spend so much money on calculators you might ask? The reason is that the students and their parents would not put out the $2 needed to buy their child one! If they could not buy their kid one then I wouldn’t be upset, but when the child has several pairs of $100+ Nike Airs they wear on their feet to school everyday, when they pull out their IPhone 726.52 (or whatever number of IPhone we’re up to now) to text their friends on when I’m not looking, and when they talk about the shows they watched on cable tv last night, then you know the fact that they don’t buy a $2 calculator is definitely a case of would not instead of a case of could not! You see, all of us decide how we’re going to spend our limited resources. There are certainly some things, perhaps many things, that we cannot do. That being said, what we do with what we have does show what we treasure. Many of my students and their parents treasure shoes, phones, and entertainment, but not so much calculators for their education. Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Does the way that we spend our resources tell others that we treasure Christ?…
I’m not a teacher that’s prone to giving pop tests or quizzes. I typically give the students at least a week notice before an exam and I give them a review sheet that provides the exact concepts they are expected to know. I’m not trying to trick anyone. I really want them to do well and try my best to give them every opportunity to study the right materials and succeed. Yet, surprisingly, when I ask the students on test day how long they’ve spent studying, most say less than 15 minutes! Now, it doesn’t make sense to me that given so much notice and so much review materials that they would study so little. Surely, I used to think, it must be due to some family emergency or some home situation that causes them to have to care for younger siblings or an illness that kept them in bed all night or some other such thing of extreme importance. However, when I ask the students what they’re doing with their time instead of studying, I typically get responses like playing video games, watching television, texting, or just hanging out with friends. There are many things we can give besides or in addition to money. We all have 24 hours a day. (Granted there are some matters that demand our time and depending on our situations some may have more time not spoken for than others.) The lack of time many of my students give to studying shows me that they treasure video games and watching television more than their math class. To what do we give our time? Does the way that we spend the hours, days, months, and years of our lives show that we treasure the Lord?
I’m going to close with a thought I’ve shared a few times over the course of the past month. There will be a day when the Lord will be treasured by all; a day when He is number one to every life and no longer has a backseat to the things of this world. On that day those who know Jesus will treasure Him more than ever before, rejoicing before their Lord that they will be with Him forever and that they are finally and fully set free from the weights that would so easily beset us. On that day those who don’t know the Lord will treasure Jesus as well for their knees will bow and their tongues will confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father before they are judged and thrown into eternal torment where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die. No matter how much they may have refused to treasure Christ in their earthly lives, the thought of Jesus will be first and foremost on their mind on that day for they will be forever aware of their eternal separation from the Lord of glory. May we treasure Jesus more in 2014 than ever before and more each day that we live than the day before!