Tag Archives: treasure

Is It Still?

There are some things in my possession that are more valuable than gold … or platinum, diamonds, etc. None of them are valuable enough in the eyes of others, however, for should I want to trade them I would be none the richer in earthly things.

One of those things is my dad’s Bible, the one he marked up so much during his days of preaching that it’s hardly possible to find a single page without additional ink.

Some other items are the watches my wife gave me as gifts over the years. One might be worth a couple of hundred dollars on today’s market, but it’s priceless to me.

Then there are those little items left over from the precious years of my children’s youth, like drawings, soft ball helmets, and Father’s Day cards.

But this morning I read something in 1 Samuel 3:1 that caught the attention of my heart.

“[T]he word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.”

1 Samuel 3:1b

In those days God spoke through the prophets. The canon of Scripture had not been completed. Therefore, because God had been silent for a while, a “word” from Him would have been so valuable.

It would have been “precious.”

But as I looked at that verse, I was immediately convicted. We have no open visions anymore. All we have is the revealed Word of God, the Bible. He HAS spoken and what has been said is in our hands.

But how precious is it?

The word of the Lord was precious in those days, but is it still?

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Changing Definitions

Recently, I have been working on a paper discussing rise of a subtle danger within the modern church – materialism.  I also preached a message last Sunday evening on the same subject. Some of you might find the following observation a little interesting.

The Earlier Definition

In Christianity Through the Centuries, a text on church history, Earle. E. Cairnes briefly addresses the rise of materialism during the nineteenth century (1800’s).  Even though he describes it as a “viewpoint that threatened the faith” and a threat “more subtle than higher criticism” (p. 422), Cairnes’ definition is limited to “the practice in modern society of emphasizing the material values of a high standard of living.”

In actuality, materialism was an economic and philosophical theory of history primarily developed by Karl Marx. Early on it had little to do with the modern understanding of the materialism with which we associate expensive trips to the mall around Christmas time. However, that is not to say that it did not have an impact on the Church, because it did. But what I am saying is that in the early stages of the word, the meaning was different. It had little to do with flagrant over-spending and $4.00 cups of coffee (which I never buy – except for my daughter – she’s precious).

Here’s what I’m talking about. The following is the definition of materialism in Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

The doctrine of materialists; the opinion of those who maintain that the soul of man is not a spiritual substance distinct from matter, but that it is the result or effect or the organization of matter in the body.

The Later Definition

AS you can see, the 1828 definition of materialism was limited to the philosophical understanding of the word. It had more to do with what an atheist might think, than a Christian. But when you take a look at Webster’s 1913 Dictionary, you can see some marked differences:

  • The doctrine of materialists; materialistic views and tenets.The irregular fears of a future state had been supplanted by thematerialism of Epicurus. Buckminster.
  • The tendency to give undue importance to material interests; devotion to the material nature and its wants [italics added].
  • Material substances in the aggregate; matter.[R. & Obs.] A. Chalmers.

Did you notice the the second point? That was no where to be found in the original definition. That is more of what we understand materialism to be – the love of “stuff.”

Now, just google “define materialism” and you will see that the number one definition is understood to be “A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.That’s the subtle danger that threatens the faith.

How Do You Define It?

What is your definition? Has the culture changed you from one who never thought much about material possession, to someone who has to have the best that money can buy, or at least what makes others think you have it? Never forget the following words from Jesus, the One Christmas is all about…

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?…But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Mat 6:20-21, 31, 33 KJV

Any “ism” that causes you to focus on stuff, rather than the Creator, is an unprofitable proposition and the definition of materialistic folly.

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