“The birth and growth of the spirit, in those who are attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful. Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth.” — Mary Antin
In this life, we save for a later date. We put the products of our time and our labor in some box for safekeeping. We call those boxes 401(k)s, pensions or Social Security. We put away the fruits of our efforts for a day when we’ll need them. They are our fortune, waiting for our arrival at that future date.
Jesus told his followers to store treasure in heaven. Invest there. Have an IRA upon your arrival. Heaven’s banks, he said, are more secure than Swiss accounts.
What makes for a spiritual retirement fund? Jesus speaks a great deal about bearing fruit, and his words are about as gentle as his “hate your family” remarks. When it comes to fruit, however, he said it stems from being connected to him (John 15). The products of our life, when we connect to him, are invisible. (See Ephesians 5:16-26.) Our production runs through him and comes from him.
We connect to him as we talk to him, think about him and listen to what he says. We follow his lead and learn from his teaching. This develops a rapport.
This leads to fruit bearing. The time and effort put into these pursuits produce spiritual fruit, and treasure in heaven.
What is spiritual fruit? What is treasure in heaven?
Nothing we can see goes beyond the grave. Therefore, the things we value – wealth, fame, physical beauty, stature etc. — cannot pass muster with what Jesus values. Most of us spend our time, money and energy on things we cannot secure.
If we’re spirit, though, the spirit part of us will definitely remain with us: our love, goodness, wisdom, joy, peace, mercy, grace and fidelity. These intangibles, Paul says, represent the Spirit’s outcome, its fruit, in our lives.
We’re headed to a day when we’ll look at our lives and ask, “What have I accumulated? What have I done? What has been the payoff? What have I become? Have all these years of working for money won anything worthwhile?”
Will we look at what we’ve saved and say, “I put it in the wrong place?” Will they meet the needs of that future date?
Jesus never told us not to work for money. But he made clear those things for which we should be working.
What do you do to produce treasure for heaven?
Do you value that?
Do you value Jesus’ teachings? Him?
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