Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Defining Treasures

I am most of the way through reading Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. It is proving to be, quite possibly, the most important book I have read in years. I will write more about the book in days to come, but for now, I wanted to share one longer quote about Treasures that Tripp gives in the middle of the book.

He is specifically talking about how pastoral ministry is won or lost in the war zone of our heart. Pastors have heart problems just like anyone else has heart problems. And ultimately, that heart problem exists because we too easily assign worth to things that are unworthy. Yet his description of treasures is not limited to pastors. It is symptomatic of all people. His insight was like a dagger to my heart. Maybe you will feel the same way.
"Let's begin by unpacking the concept of treasure that Christ uses. Treasure is a provocative word. Imagine I am holding a twenty-dollar bill in front of you. Why is it worth twenty dollars? It's not because it is made from twenty dollars' worth of paper. That would entail a stack of paper. It's not because it is made up of twenty dollars' worth of ink. That would entail a pail of ink. You see, the value of the twenty-dollar bill isn't intrinsic value but assigned value. Our government has assigned to that bill the value of two thousand pennies. Thus it is with most of the things that we treasure. Few of them have intrinsic value. No, most of them have assigned value. What doe that mean? It means they have value because we have named them as valuable. 
This is something you do all the time. You are constantly value-rating the things in your life. That's why the old proverb says, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.' You are constantly naming things as important and other things as not so important. You are always attaching your inner hope and contentment to something, and when you do, those things take on life-shaping value. 
Let's return to our twenty-dollar bill and see how it will shape our lives once that value has been assigned to it. Once my bill has the value of twenty dollars, the number of those you offer me will determine whether I will take that job or not. The number of those I have will determine the size of my house, the neighborhood I live in, the kind of car I drive, the quality of clothes I wear, the cuisine I eat, the level of health care I have, the vacations I take, and my hopes for retirement, and it may sadly even determine the kind of people I want to hang out with. Once something is our treasure, it will command our desires and shape our behavior." (102-103)
What are the things that we are assigning value to that makes us want to treasure them all too much? There certainly is intrinsic value in family or relationships, but could we be assigning more value to it than is there? I doubt there is really too much intrinsic value in video games or the latest technological gadget. But we act as if there is. What about our pets? And you can see, the list can keep going. 

I would challenge you this Christmas season to think through the treasures that you gather and keep. And to remember, there is only one treasure that ultimately has the most intrinsic value. His name is Jesus (Matthew 6:19-24).

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