"For Where Your Treasure Is, There Will Your Heart Be Also"
A Moment To Ponder
(Reflective Questions and Self Evaluation)
*These questions should be answered a second time after reading this chapter.
- In my heart, what is the treasure that I desire the most?
- Is that treasure of this world, or of the next?
- Is money helping or hindering the achievement of that desire?
- How much thought, time, and effort do I spend each day pursuing my chosen treasure in comparison to other treasures?
- Am I following God's plan for me, or am I choosing a plan of my own design?
- If the day of judgment were to come tomorrow, what would be the reward that I would have chosen?
Go to Short Story section of this website and read "For Where Your Treasure Is There Will Your Heart Be Also" Come back here after completed.
This story had been read in a couple of church gatherings. At the conclusion of the reading, the audiences appeared somber and quiet. It packed a powerful message for many. I then would ask the question: "What do you think about this story?"
The most common responses were: "It sounded like you were describing a member of my family." Or, "That was very sad." After listener's opinions, we then discussed the lessons learned from its content. Certainly, we are not authorized to judge John. It is wrong to judge anybody. And that is not the purpose of this parable. Only the Great Jehovah, who is perfect in understanding, mercy, and compassion can make final judgment. We only have a portion of the facts from John Henry's life. He, as all of us, may have some time in the Spirit World to perfect repentance. For this reason, this parable was presented as a pre-assigned judgment. However, one must always remember that, "this earth life is a time to prepare to meet God." (See Alma 34:32, Alma 41:4)
And we should remember, to paraphrase Brigham Young: "It is much harder to repent in the spirit world than it is here on earth." An interview with the heavenly council and ourselves could reveal a whole set of different weaknesses that we need to overcome. The purpose of this chapter is to talk about the influence of money, and how it can effect lives.
This modern day parable was given to illustrate one of the effects that money can have on our eternal destiny. It is just one example, chosen about an anonymous rich man, that could be you, me, or someone else. We could just as easily create a parable about a poor man and the impact the desire for money had on him. Coveting money can be just as damaging as the lust for money. Surprisingly, in this reverse circumstance, the resulting verdict and reward could be the same.
Within John Henry's story above, there are many warnings and lessons to be learned. The scriptures support some of them. Let's ask the question; Where did John Henry go wrong?
John had a weakness that the Father of Lies exploited. John had an Achilles Heel. It was an obsession with money. His philosophy of life, attitudes, and behaviors were governed by one core value, "what money could do for him." Money became the determining factor of all of his decisions. When problems occurred it was measured by the question;: "Do you know how much money that cost me?" Everything had a dollar sign attached to it, even his time. John's opinion of himself and his self esteem were attached to his worldly possessions, accomplishments, and what money could buy. As he stated in the story, "making money is my purpose in life." It is sad to note that what he chose to do with his money was not always in accord with God's purposes.
A second failing was, that "being one with Christ" was not the most important thing to him. Somewhere along the line he did not remember or understand his covenants with God. His treasure was not found in the Atonement of Christ, nor in God's Plan of Happiness and Salvation. He was not "about his Heavenly Father's business", but rather about his own.
The scriptures share some great lessons that parallel John Henry's story.
In Luke 13:14-21 it is written:
"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
I appreciate James Talmage and would like to share his insights on this scripture from "Jesus the Christ", page 314.
"The man's abundance had been accumulated through labor and thrift... He is not represented as one in possession of wealth not rightfully his own. His plans for the proper care of his fruits and goods were not of themselves evil, though he might have considered better ways of distributing his surplus, as for the relief of the needy. His sin was twofold; first, he regarded his great store chiefly as the means of securing personal ease and sensuous indulgence; secondly, in his material prosperity he failed to acknowledge God, and even counted the years as his own... He had used his time and his powers of body and mind to sow, reap, and garner--all for himself. And what came of it all? Whose should be the wealth, to amass which he had jeopardized his soul?"
Talmage then concludes: "The man whose treasure is of earth leaves it all at death; he whose wealth is in heaven goes to his own, and death is but the portal to his treasure."
In Mark 10:17-24 we read:
"And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all of these I have observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Talmage, in "Jesus the Christ" page 336, made the following observations:
"In his way, he yearned for the kingdom of God, yet more devotedly he loved his great possessions. To give up wealth, social position, and official distinction, was too great a sacrifice; and the necessary self-denial was a cross too heavy for him to bear, even though treasure in heaven and life eternal were offered him. Love of worldly things was this man's besetting weakness... Willingness to place the kingdom of God above all material possessions was the one thing he lacked."
This young rich man's woes were similar to those of John Henry. The young rich man was offered the opportunity to "take up the cross and come follow me." He could have sat at the feet of the Savior of all mankind and feasted on his words. Perhaps he could have enjoyed the "Day of Pentecost and Transfiguration." The riches of eternity may have been offered to him without an exchange of gold or silver. His worldly possessions blinded him. He was asked to make a choice of earthly wealth versus eternal wealth. That particular day, he made a choice.
The question the reader of this text must ask himself is: What am I choosing this day? What is the one thing I lack, or need to sacrifice in order to inherit the gift of eternal life? It truly is a choice that all are required to make during this sojourn on earth. Alma in the Book of Mormon makes a suggestion as did Joshua in the Old Testament.
"For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve." (See Alma 30:8, Joshua 24:15)
Choosing whom and how we serve will impact how we use our acquired wealth. The influence of money on John Henry will be referred to throughout this book as there are further lessons to be learned from his story. We will learn how money can influence decisions, behaviors, and shape our character.
For your further thought and consideration, we close this chapter with three scriptures about treasures:
2 Nephi 9:30: The dangers of some treasures.
3 Nephi 13:19-21: Permanent treasures.
Matthew 13:44: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof go and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field."
Preface to Chapters 2-4
In Chapter 1 we studied a hypothetical "Day of Judgment." Whether a man has great wealth and lives in a breathtaking home on a hill overlooking the sea, or whether he is a poor man living in a cardboard box in some dark inner city alley, one thing is true: "all will be judged!" That judgment will be just, true, and predicated upon that which we have been given. Our loving Heavenly Father is fair, merciful, and giving. Therefore, much of how we will be judged, will be based on our past decisions and actions. Our use of "free agency" (the freedom to choose) will ultimately determine our eternal reward. The choices we make each day, will lead us to the reward that we most treasure in our heart. Of judgment and rewards, the scriptures say:
Doctrine & Covenants 76:111, Mosiah 16:10 Judged by our works.
We are also taught in the scriptures that there are three degrees of glory after the Day of Judgment. Paul phrased the rewards as follows:
1 Corinthians 15:41
"There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory."
Christ himself said in John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you..."
In modern day scripture we learn more of these glories. In the next three chapters, each of these kingdoms of glory will be reviewed separately. We will attempt to define them in further detail. This will help us to know which kingdom we are choosing each day. The kingdoms are known as: the Telestial (that of the stars), the Terrestrial (that of the moon), and the Celestial (that of the sun). The spiritual beings that dwell in those kingdoms will be considered, along with their attitudes and behaviors.
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