I grew up in a traditional Catholic family and knew the basics of God; I grew up with a younger brother and sister and a cousin with whom I am super close with; in fact, he is my older brother, as far as everyone knows. It is the only way I ever saw him as. My whole life, I looked up to him in every way and to a fault that, later in life, it would be in the same footsteps I would follow. I remember calling my parents my first year when I was away at college in tears some nights, saying, “Why won’t he listen? Why can’t he see what he is doing, he will die, and he doesn’t care.” After so many years, I can say that he no longer lives that lifestyle; by worldly ways, he lives successfully but is blind to the ways of the Lord.
My relationship with him left my relationship with my youngest brother to drift, he went on to grow close with my younger sister, and they set a path of destruction. My brother and I are so different in every way; when he was in to visit, and we went to the Eagles, two of my friends from Church were there and met him; one asked if we came from the same parents.
My brother moved out to Oklahoma about 20 years ago when he struggled to maintain a sober life out here in New Jersey, and probably the best secular choice he made at the time. My brother, however, still functions in the mindset of work, work, work; my dad was like that, except my brother works for the material things of the world. He works hard, but he likes to have things that show for his work, the Dodge Hemi Ram, the big screens, and the pool table; he has two boys he loves the way he knows how, and they have everything they can want. The problem is that it leaves him unfulfilled and constantly on a treasure hunt for the next thing.
Me coming from that mindset years ago, I learned through the grace of Jesus Christ that possessions are just that; they are meaningless, and what is here today can be gone tomorrow; learn to value what is priceless. Having a relationship with the Lord, enjoy your healthy children, just doesn’t make sense to him.
Well, some of you may know because I shared a little, but my brother is being humbled; Wednesday night, I got a call way past his bedtime; he is an early worker. I was anxious because I knew something was wrong and what I anticipated to think it would be about my sister. I soon found out that his house was up in flames; he and the boys could escape, but as the seconds went by, he was losing more and more.
Everything that he put his value in was gone before his eyes; all the worldly things, except for the truck and items that survived; a picture of my dad with me, my brother and sister, a football jersey of my dad, and two Bibles. There were some other irreplaceable items of my dads now gone with no way to retrieve them but what prevailed through the fire blows my mind; unfortunately, his peace now rests in an insurance adjuster rather than the Lord, where the money will come to fix the house, and what the future looks like for the boys. My heart breaks for him because I remember what it feels like to live in uncertainty, to have my comfort placed upon things that can be taken from me.
The scripture in Matthew 6 speaks to this in 19-21: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It is not that we cannot have possessions; instead, our happiness and contentment should not be set upon them. Our treasures in heaven give us contentment and a sense of well-being in our ability to give, allowing us to enjoy not only now but the ultimate enjoyment on the other side of eternity.
This mindset required me to become a Mathew 6:33 type of person in that “First seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” The instinct is to take care of our physical needs, priorities, etc. When we are abiding in Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, we will first seek the Kingdom rather than the perspective of adding to our day-to-day routine; we seek the Kingdom first in everything we do.
We honor the Lord by being good dads, husbands, moms, wives, and stewards over what we are given it is not by choosing to honor God over those things.
I pray that the Lord uses this event to grab my brother’s heart and show him that materials are just things that burn up, but the relationship with Him is forever. I pray that the Lord continues to show my brother who He is in all circumstances, and I hope you can join me through this time of prayer.
So, I ask, where are your treasures being stored? What are you seeking first?