Treasures and Elections

by John Yoder on January 8, 2016

Last Sunday night, in our study through the Sermon on the Mount, we compared “Two Treasures” (Mt. 6:19-21).  Our Lord gave this commandment: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”.  Here is another relevant and searching application of that teaching taken from M. L. Jones’ book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, and his chapter, “God or Mammon” (p. 87-88):

We might digress here for a moment and look at this subject from the standpoint of the great political interest in this country, particularly, for example, at the time of a General Election.  What, in the last analysis, is the real interest?  What is the real thing that people on both sides and all sides are concerned about?  They are interested in ‘treasures upon earth’, whether they be people who have treasures or whether they be people who would like to have them.   They are all interested in the treasures; and it is most instructive to listen to what people say, and to observe how they betray themselves and the worldliness of which they are guilty, and the way in which they are laying up for themselves treasures upon earth.  To be very practical (and if the preaching of the gospel is not practical it is not true preaching), there is a very simple test which we can apply to ourselves to see whether these things apply to us our not.  When, at the time of a a General or local Election,we are called on to make a choice of candidates, do we find ourselves believing that one political point of view is altogether right and the other altogether wrong?  If we do, I suggest we are somehow or another laying up for ourselves treasures on earth.  If we say that the truth is altogether on one side or the other, then if we analyze our motives we shall discover it is because we are either protecting something or anxious to have something.  Another good way of testing ourselves is to ask ourselves quite simply and honestly why we hold our particular views.  What is our real interest?  What is our motive?  What, when we are quite honest and truthful with ourselves, is really at the back of these particular political views that we hold?  It is a most illuminating questions if we are really honest.  I suggest that most people will find if they face that question quite honestly, that there are some treasures upon earth about which they are concerned, and in which they are interested.

The next test is this. To what extent are our feelings engaged in this matter?  How much bitterness is there, how much violence, how much anger and scorn and passion?  Apply that test, and again we shall find that the feeling is aroused almost invariably by the concern about laying up treasures upon earth.  The last test is this.  Are we viewing these things with a a kind of detachment and objectivity or not?  What is our attitude towards all these things?  Do we instinctively think of ourselves as pilgrims, and mere sojourners in this world, who of course have to be interested in these things while we are here?  Such an interest is certainly right, it is our duty.  But what is our ultimate attitude?  Are we controlled by it?  Or do we stand apart and regard it objectively, as something which is ephemeral, something which does not really belong to the essence of our life and being, something with which we are concerned only for a while, as we are passing through this life?  We should ask ourselves these questions in order that we may make quite certain whether this injunction of our Lord is speaking to us.  Those are some of the ways in which we can find out very simply whether we are or are not guilty of laying up for ourselves treasures upon earth, and not laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

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