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. Matt 6:19
I’ve been reading a very interesting book entitled The Prodigal God. The book follows the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus taught. In it, the author demonstrates that in this parable, the elder brother is as lost as the younger brother. It has been life changing for me in that I feel as though I am looking at myself through a microscope. Whenever I’ve read this parable, I have always identified with the older brother and I have had a hard time understanding all of the joy and jubilation about the younger brother’s return home. I suppose I take it so personally, because I’ve tried so hard to prove to myself and to my parents that I am worth loving. See! Look at me, I’M living the way you taught me to live! I’ve felt the pain of perceived rejection and have compared myself to others. It’s been hard for me to understand how it is that parents treat children differently and it’s been a process in learning that I can’t afford to take it personally.
In the book, the author states, “The anger and superiority of elder brothers, all growing out of insecurity, fear, and inner emptiness, can create a huge body of guilt-ridden, fear-ridden, spiritually blind people…” The question here is what is the elder brother afraid of? I believe that he (or I) is afraid of not being loved. Perhaps he worries that the father loves unequally and that there isn’t enough love to fill his heart and make him feel secure in the love of his father.
I have observed that parents do often love unequally. Sometimes, they favor one child and shun another. If you are the child who has been shunned or has been abandoned, it’s hard to believe that God could ever truly love you. It’s hard to fathom that there is enough of his love to go around. It’s hard to really know, in the very kernel of your soul that God delights in you.
As I’ve been mulling over these truths, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that elder brothers do to demonstrate their worth. They word very, VERY hard. They accumulate stuff-cars, houses, jewelry, important companions of high social standing all in an effort to show the world and themselves that they matter. In my own life, I’ve found myself trying to stockpile enough material possessions so that I will feel secure.
Just this weekend, as I was praying about all of my wrong attitudes I realized the contradiction between the way we act and the way Christ acted. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So, where was Jesus’ treasure? He had so much power and charisma that he could have been the richest man, the most popular man, in the world. He could have had a harem of women vying for his affections and he could have crushed all of the religious and societal leaders of his day. But his treasure was in heaven.
It occurred to me this week that Jesus came to earth to make you and to make me part of his treasure. He endured insults, homelessness, hunger, and a death of capital punishment all so that we would be his treasure in heaven. All so that we could share in the glory that he has there. So, as an elder brother, what am I afraid of and why am I so insecure?
Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also. Thus, I need to focus all of my energies on storing up my treasures where they will really count. I need to stop being a disapproving elder brother and be willing to humble myself and know that God loves me enough that I don’t need to be proleptic about protecting myself and my future.