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Toys ‘R Us plus Tasers

December 3, 2009

This is running in our monthly bulletin for December:

I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like it. While they weren’t among those who stood in line early in the morning, Kathryn accompanied my sister and mother on a “Black Friday” shopping trip. (Dad, Luke, and I did the manly thing and stayed home to watch football.) But Kathryn and I went out that afternoon to visit the local Toys ‘R Us in Cordova. It was not pretty. Every aisle was littered with boxes that just sat in the floor. The exhausted workers were walking around the store with zombie-like expressions on their faces. We soon discovered it was useless to follow the signs, since no toy was where it was supposed to be. We managed to find a couple of items we had been looking for, and as we stood in the check-out line, we began discussing the day with the cashier. She had been at work since 6:00 a.m. (this was about 5:30 p.m.), and she was clearly ready to go home. She told us that when the store was opening that morning, a few people tried to skip ahead of those who had been waiting for hours to catch the big sales. Someone had mace.  Another person had a taser. The ensuing fight led to police intervention and four arrests. Four arrests! All in the name of saving a few bucks. Nothing against working hard for a good deal, but how many of you remember every present you received last year? What about the year before that one? Were those presents worth someone being arrested?

How could our priorities get so out of whack? It makes me marvel at how we can place such a high value on gifts that will wear out within months or years, and overlook the spiritual blessings that are as lasting as they are costly. I think that is why Jesus made a point to tell His followers not to store up treasures on earth, where elements like moth and rust could destroy them in Matthew 6:19. He follows that by urging His listeners to store up treasure in heaven rather than treasure on earth. He makes the statement in verse 21 that our hearts will always follow our treasures. Isn’t it interesting that he put the two elements in that order? He didn’t say our treasure follows our hearts, he stated that our hearts will wind up wherever we store up our treasures. If you think about it, that truth is reflected in various areas of our lives.  Aren’t you more concerned about stock prices of a company if you are an investor? Isn’t it easier to take care of a car when you have paid for it yourself? As we invest spiritually, our hearts become trained on spiritual matters. The more we store up in Heaven, the more focused we are on serving God on earth.

Jesus also tells two parables about people who understood true value – one who finds a hidden treasure in a field and one who finds a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46). Both men sold all that they had in order to purchase it. The gift of salvation is worth everything we own, and when we understand its value, we will be willing to give all that up. That will mean more than getting up early on a Friday morning or camping out all night in line – it will mean a radical transformation of our lives. But, as Jesus reminds us, it will be for something that won’t get broken, forgotten, or thrown out a few years from now. God’s grace is not cheap, but it is a gift. And it is worth giving up everything else.

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