9 November 2014
Good morning Brothers and Sisters of the Annandale Ward. For those of you I have not met, and for those that can't remember my tricky Danish name: I’m Elder Falslev and I am from Logan, Utah. I have been serving in this area for about four weeks now. It is indeed a pleasure to be able to serve alongside you in the marvelous work of the Lord, and especially at this time of The Hastening.
Elder Teh of the Seventy spoke in the recent April General Conference extending to us a caution; "There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough. If we are not careful, we will begin to chase after the temporal more than the spiritual."
With the Savior's eternal perspective, He taught:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." (Matthew 6:19–20)
When we read this passage the first word that leaps out at us is "treasures." Treasures are simply things we value and therefore want to have. We want to find, work for, keep, and use treasures.
Now let's start with the earth. There are things on the earth that support us - food, clothing and shelter; and we work from day to day in order to have these things. Beyond the basics - in our age especially, there are other things we value and want to possess - a means of transportation; various methods of communication; all kinds of things from necessary to nice. There are these things we treasure here on the earth - we work to have them and store them up for future use.
Now Jesus says there are treasures in heaven. We are all well aware of the treasures we have on earth, the things we value and need to have for our existence. Though, there are things which are more valuable than food, clothing and shelter. There are commodities far more precious than the inventions of the world. Treasures in heaven: Things we should value and want to have, because they come from God, bring us closer to Him, make us better people and prepare us for a happy eternity after death!
The more we think about this the more obvious it all is! The treasures of earth lie in the realm of places, things, material commodities, worldly values - the tangible and temporal. The treasures of heaven lie in the realm of the spiritual - forgiveness, a relationship with God, the power of prayer, the development of character, the love of God and His Children, and the hope of living with Him again.
While preparing this talk I asked a few investigators, fellow missionaries, and members what they considered to be a treasure of the earth... It was interesting to hear many mention money.
Somebody said, “Money can’t buy happiness." And someone has pointed out that if there is anyone who can’t buy happiness with money it must be that he just doesn’t know where to shop. It is interesting to recognize that we build temples with money; we can send out missionaries with money, we can build educational institutions, operate hospitals, and pay our tithing with money. We can feed and clothe our families with money, and in many ways we can build up the kingdom of God with money.
God is a very wealthy individual. We all like to inherit from a wealthy parent and what could be more exciting than to inherit from God, to get everything that He has. Heavenly Father is very thrifty; He is also very wise and very generous. To begin with, He created us in his own image and has given each of us a set of his attributes and talents. He desires that every one of us should be rich. He has said: “… the fulness of the earth is yours …” (D&C 59:16), and it pleaseth God that he has given all these things unto men to be used with judgment and thanksgiving. He has shared with us the fulness of the treasures of the earth and he desires to share with us the fulness of the treasures of heaven. He wants us to inherit the celestial kingdom. He has said that the greatest of all the gifts of God is the gift of eternal life in His presence.
Thus, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" does not mean we are not allowed to have money or earthly possessions. In fact, in fulfilling our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, our needy neighbors and to support the Lord's cause - it is necessary to work, to have income and to be a possessor of earthly things. Nowhere in the scriptures does God tell us that it is sinful to have income, to have money and possess earthly things. Nowhere in the scriptures will you find a rich man being punished merely because of his wealth nor will you find a poor man commended simply because of his destitution.
Money is not the problem, our misuse and love of it is.
This is about WHAT'S MORE VALUABLE; what's more important - and what lasts longer! Heavenly things are so much more valuable than earthly treasure - we ought to want heavenly things and labor and treasure heavenly things far more than earthly things.
The things of this earth have no permanence; no durability ... and we cannot take them with us. Therefore it makes no sense to devote our whole heart and life to something that will soon be gone.
Thieves can break in and steal your television, your computer and your credit cards but they cannot take away your character; they cannot remove the love of Christ from your heart; they cannot take you as a hostage out of the kingdom of God! Christ is pretty much saying to us - "If your treasures are limited to this earth... I can tell you the whole story of those things in three words --> moth, rust and theft!" That's the whole trouble with the things of this world - we can be absolutely certain that someday we will lose them!
These temporary treasures never meet our real needs; there is always something missing.
Has this ever happened to you? You get something you have been craving and the moment you get it, there is a sense of disappointment!
Earthly treasures are appealing, but they do not satisfy; they never deliver all that we expect; and besides - There is nothing as changeable and temporary as human taste. We get something, and before we have had it very long our joy in it has begun to dull, and after a while we have lost all interest in it; isn't this why we have garages and attics full of stuff? That which occupies our interest and attention this year may bore us next year. Our earthly interests are constantly fluctuating, and this is another problem when we invest all our time and energy in this world.
VERSE 21 OF MATTHEW 6 IS VERY IMPORTANT.
VERSE 21 OF MATTHEW 6 IS VERY IMPORTANT.
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Let's think about this - just in a general way: that which we treasure has great power over us! I once saw a T-shirt with this message: If they don't have chocolate in heaven, I ain't going! Perhaps that was written to over-state a point, or simply for the sake of humor. But it illustrates what Christ is talking about - that which we treasure has great power over us. It may be a certain kind of misbehavior that we treasure. It may be our career that we treasure; a hobby; a person; a place or thing. That which we treasure has great power over us; it draws us like a magnet; it exercises a tremendous grip and influence over us.
The obvious message is - we should treasure spiritual realities far above any kind of treasure this world has to offer.
Our lives should be governed by our affection for these things made available to us through the gospel. Yes - we have to earn money and use money; we have to have food, shelter, transportation. We can have nice things and save money, but our heart ought to be controlled by the heavenly treasures - spiritual blessings which cannot be touched by the moth, the rust or the robber!
Where is your treasure? I don’t know where your heart is or what your heart is longing for or serving. Only two people know that, you and God. I know that if you are serving yourself by storing up wealth or popularity or whatever it may be, that it will come to an end. It is only temporary. But if you are serving God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, you will not be disappointed. There is an inheritance waiting for you when you return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. I am calling us to repent of those things and to change our minds and our behaviors. I am calling us to repent on a daily basis, as this is a continual battle we face day in and day out. We have seen the power of the gospel and repented; that must continue every day. We must see the grace of the gospel in our daily lives and its effects day in and day out. We must live by that grace, through faith, in what is to come.
It is not so important how many valuables you may have, how much property you may possess, and how many of the honors of men you may acquire, and all those things that are so desired in the world. The thing that Heavenly Father has given to you that is worth more than all the rest is the opportunity to obtain eternal life in the celestial kingdom and be together eternally with those you loved and cherished on this earth.
It is not enough for us to merely know that there will be treasures awaiting us in heaven. When we consistently follow the Holy Spirit, in a continuous, constant spirit of prayer, the world of miracles is open to us now, in this life.
I know that we are all spirit children of a Merciful and ever Forgiving Heavenly Father who awaits our return. I know that through coming to know our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement we will be able to achieve that long awaited return. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored again to the earth. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary and to be able to teach others these powerful truths.
I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ.