For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Luke 12:34 NRSV)
I am often wary when someone pipes up with the old adage, “Charity begins at home.” The phrase is often used as a conversation stopper, or as an excuse to stand back from our responsibility to our fellow human beings.
In fact, it often displays a thinly-veiled hard heartedness; a meanness of spirit.
Yes, charity should begin at home. Our nearest and dearest are God’s gifts to us and we have a primary responsibility to love them in practical and sacrificial ways. The original meaning of the word we know as “charity” is, quite simply, self-emptying sacrificial love. So charity should begin at home, but it shouldn’t end there.
In his teaching, Jesus never says that money in itself is a bad thing; it is, after all, simply a means of exchange. But money and power often go hand in hand. The more money we have, the greater our freedom to decide, and the greater our power. Those with little money often have little power and can find themselves at the mercy of those who have plenty of both.
So it is not money which Jesus criticises, but our attitudes towards money.
In fact, it’s not just money: wherever we focus our attention (whether it be money, status, celebrity, our jobs, our cars, our hobbies and interests, even the social circles we move in) there is always the danger that the “thing” will become our god.
If we sit lightly on our possessions; enjoying what we have, not worrying about that which we don’t have, and doing our best to share our good fortune, whilst seeking to empower others, then we begin to move towards Jesus’ command to love God and our neighbour.
If I am tuned in to Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom, then my heart is less likely to be fixed on my needs and more likely to discover its treasure amongst God’s other children.
when I am worn down
by the cares of money,
or any one of a thousand distractions,
give me a heart for your Kingdom
and show me where my treasure really lies.