Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
Jesus illustrated great truths with human interest stories. One of them involved a wealthy man who turned over his estate to three men, entrusting each with a certain amount of wealth. Today we use dollars, yen, pesos or euros (depending on who has issued the currency) to measure wealth, but in Jesus’ day the unit of measurement was a talent. Our English word for talent is a transliteration of the Greek word, the one Jesus used, which was talanton. A single talent in Roman days represented the equivalent of a working man’s salary for a period of fifteen years. Thus a talent represented a lot of money in any currency.
The story, found in Matthew 25 in the New Testament, is poignant and disturbing at the same time. The two who doubled their investments were commended, but the third who, cowering with fear, dug a hole and buried his talent, was rebuked. “‘Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ said the wealthy landowner,” (Matthew 25:30), using terminology applied to those who are sent to hell.
A story such as this always has a deeper meaning, a truth which Jesus wanted us to see clearly. And what’s disturbing about this? Simply put, He is saying that God claims ownership of what we have, and that we will someday be accountable for what we do with what God has given to us.
The reality is that few people ever acknowledge that what we have–whether it is money which we can spend or invest, time which we can use wisely or waste, or talents which can make a difference in our world or be used selfishly (dig a hole and bury them)–is really God’s gift to us. We can use it or waste it, but once it’s gone, it can never be recovered.
Earlier, Jesus had taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:17-21).
Whenever a bank gets into trouble, depositors become alarmed very quickly. Rumors breed fear, and long lines of people will form outside the bank, which can quickly turn into mobs who want to get into the bank first and get their money. There’s no question where their treasure is. When the stock market crashes, some, not being able to stand the loss of their money, end up taking their lives. For them, life ends when the treasure is dissipated.
But those who have treasure in heaven are not subject to the foibles, the ups and downs of the economy, and the ravages of corporate executives who sometimes are more efficient than bank robbers who walk in and announce, “Hands up! It’s a holdup!”
How do you invest in heaven’s bank? A retired schoolteacher began with literacy classes for immigrants. A doctor began by going overseas twice a year, giving his time for two weeks at a time. A businessman began supporting ministry overseas. Another began using his financial know-how to help young couples struggling with money. A teenager began working with kids after school. A retired couple began collecting aluminum cans, converting scrap into money for Russian Bibles. Investing in heaven’s bank goes far beyond dropping money in the offering plate at church or mailing a check to your favorite charity. It involves your time, your talents and your resources as well. Think about it.
Resource reading: Colossians 3:1-4