"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Matthew 5:21 NIV)
"Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." (Luke 17:32-33 NIV)
During the summer of ’76 and soon after graduating high school, I had the opportunity to travel abroad. Being a young teenager at the time, I did not fully appreciate the significance of many historical places. Of all the interesting sites however, one made a lasting impression – the ancient ruins of Pompeii.
More than likely, you may never have visited Pompeii but seen the unique and fascinating photos of this once flourishing town. Amazingly, from the ancient ruins archaeologists have reconstructed every day lives of the inhabitants of Pompeii. Many artifacts present clues as to what were the most valued and treasured possessions of its people. Frozen in time are the houses, objects, paintings, inscriptions and graffiti of the individuals who once lived there. Recalling one home in particular, food was still preserved on the table as if it were yesterday. And volcanic ash imprints on many of Pompeii’s citizens have forever memorialized their final moments on this earth.
The tale of Pompeii also offers some insight to our Lord’s instruction in today’s Scripture. Jesus reveals where our treasure is our hearts will be also and warns us to remember Lot’s wife. Genesis 19:26 describes this account: “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Some commentators believe she looked back because her heart longed for the treasures left behind. Whatever the reason, Jesus used her as an example to relinquish material things of this world.
James 4:14 states, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for awhile and then vanishes” (NIV). Imagine ourselves as inhabitants of Pompeii going about our daily routines; then suddenly we vanish. Think for a moment. If archaeologists could reconstruct our lives, what kind of story would it tell? What things do we treasure the most? What examples would we be for future generations to reflect upon the lives we now live?
Heavenly Father, help us to store treasures in heaven which can never be destroyed. Allow our lives be a living testimony to the incomparable riches of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and the knowledge of God. In Jesus’ Holy Name we pray. Amen.