Live Free Bible Study Week 4

Free to Take Hold of LifeLive Free Dove

A Bible Study by Dan Sturdivant

Treasure and Foundation

Text: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Matthew 6:21

Pray: God, you encompass all things. You are closer to me than I am to myself. Encompass me now, anew. Release me during this time of reflection and for all my days from my self-preoccupation, from all fretfulness, from anything at all that distracts me from your majesty, your tenderness, your presence radiating in all things. Enkindle in me the desire to take hold of the life that really is life. Prepare me to be an overflowing vessel of your grace, pouring out upon the world the same Spirit that was in your Son, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Consider: Jesus does not say, “Where your heart is, there you will put your treasure.” He says, in other words, where you put your treasure, there you will find your heart. As Betsy Schwarzentraub suggests, when Paul speaks of the “treasure of a good foundation” in v. 19, he’s being coy, for in his theology your treasure is your foundation and vice-versa. Your treasure is the place where your life’s efforts and meaning are founded. Your life’s foundation consists not of the treasure you possess but the treasure you bestow in the form of blessing, generosity, good works. We could play with the idea still further and say that your one true foundation, the site of your most authentic, divinely envisioned life, lies in the masonry of blessings God gave into the world with your life. In that sense not a one of us is poor, and all are treasured.

Tragically, we are not all equally empowered to stand on our foundations. Circumstances of impoverishment, disease or infirmity, brutality and injustice, addiction, broken families, and a thousand other factors beyond one’s control keep the blessings with which someone might bless the world out of reach. More tragically still, many of us who have the wherewithal to stand on our good, God-founded treasure choose to stand elsewhere.

Yet maybe in this there is a vision of how the kingdom of God might appear. Paul puts it differently, but can’t we infer that he wants us to take hold of the life that really is life (quotes are not used above in the prayer – they can be used both places with a scripture reference)? That life—the life God implants and longs to bring to flower in each of us—is the future God has been coaxing us toward since his breath blew into our noses. And it will come to be when, finally, enough blessings have been poured out to firm all other foundations, when every person has the capacity and each life has the freedom (eleutheria) and solid ground to pour out that of which God made every human being a vessel. Surely God’s kingdom comes when every blessing for which God gives potential flows. Perhaps. Yet if such an impossible-sounding thing comes to pass, there our hearts will be also. And beating among them, I’m sure, will be Jesus’s heart, close upon if not identical to God’s own.

Facile imaginings aside, we all know what God desires for us and needs from us (which I suspect are one and the same): until we let go of self-seeking and? our preoccupation with security, unless we give ourselves to the life that we know really is life, the blessed kingdom and household of God will never be more than a topic of Bible study. Maybe you’ve heard the quip “Jesus expects only one thing from you: everything.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives this notion more theological heft:

The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, . . . the absolute security . . . of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calculable into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous, out of the realm of finite into the realm of infinite possibilities. (1)

Read: Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 again. If you feel called to do so, read any or all of the passages discussed in these four Bible studies. Read them slowly. Bring your weariness and your burdens and let the Spirit that dwells in God’s holy word give you rest.

Pray: Lord my God, when your love spilled over into creation, you thought of me. I am from love, of love, for love. Let my heart, O God, always recognize, cherish, and enjoy your goodness in all of creation. Direct all that is me toward your praise. Teach me reverence for every person, all things. Energize me in your service. Lord God, may nothing ever distract me from your love . . . neither health nor sickness, wealth nor poverty, honor nor dishonor, long life nor short life. May I never seek nor choose to be other than you intend or wish. Amen.(2)

(1) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (Touchstone: 1995).

(2) An adaption by Michael Weiler, SJ, of the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Dan Sturdivant is an elder in the United Methodist Church and is pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in San Ramon, California. Ministry is a second career for Dan; he worked as an actor in film, TV and theater in Los Angeles until 1994, when he left to attend seminary at Pacific School of Religion. He is currently finishing a book about the role of blessing in rescuing God from exile.

Leave a Reply