Where are your treasures?

Do you have family heirlooms?  Furniture, jewelry, artwork that used to belong to your great grandfather?  My brothers, wife and I have talked about this topic many times, but most of the Asian American families I know don’t have very many heirlooms because they immigrated to this country less than 3 generations ago.  Now, there are Americans of Asian ancestries that go back for many, many generations so I’m not trying to overgeneralize.

 

My parents moved to the United States from Korea when I was about 3 months old.  We arrived with a couple suitcases.  That’s it.  Everything else stayed in Korea.  Since then, we have been back to visit family, but we don’t own anything there anymore.  Keep in mind, my Dad grew up during the Korean War and I’m sure a lot of stuff was lost.

 

I know for many people, family heirlooms are extremely important to them.  As a child, I remember once going to a friend’s house and seeing some antique guns displayed that once belonged to my friend’s great, great someone who fought in the Civil War.  His family took great pride in that and it helped defined who they were.

 

To me, this is a concept that’s completely foreign.  My parents have stuff.  Some of it is really expensive stuff.  However growing up, I never got the sense that their things were precious as in, if it were lost, our family would be devastated.  I know that Dad’s got boatloads of insurance for things like fire or theft, but in the end, it could all be replaced.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated all of the finer things that my parents had.  As a child, I had more than most kids.  My brothers and I had tons of toys, clothes, bikes, etc.  We vacationed in places that many of my friends had never seen.  I’ve never gone hungry.  In fact, by all standards, I’ve eaten quite well in my lifetime.

 

Now that I’m a father and have my own family, I think about the kinds of things my children have.  They, too, have a lot of toys.  We have several computers, game systems, TVs, and blu-ray players in the house.  Everyone has a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, and there are enough toilets and tubs to keep us smelling fresh.  My wife spoils us with a never ending supply of delicious meals and treats.

 

Jenny and I had decided years ago that there’s no point in buying expensive stuff while we have babies and toddlers running around, spilling juice, throwing up, and coloring on every imaginable surface.  We do our best to train them in good manners and proper etiquette, but we still manage to find artistic surprises all over the house.

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There was a time early in our marriage when we spent our money very foolishly.  As a result, at one point we got into some really hard financial difficulties.  I was caught up in living the high life.  Houses, cars, and toys seemed so important.

 

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Jesus told us in Matthew 6:19-21

 

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.

 

The stuff of this world is so fleeting. 

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Yes, it’s nice to be comfortable and I’m not about to tell people making millions or billions of dollars to stop.  And if you have family heirlooms, I hope you enjoy them and continue to keep your traditions alive.

 

But as Christians, we must be mindful that our priorities are always on our treasure above.  Do not let idolatry take root in your homes.  That road leads to insatiable needs for more and malcontent.   Find peace and sufficiency in God’s grace today.

 

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5 responses to “Where are your treasures?

  1. I have to tell you, my friend, this post could not have been more timely. I have thought of it SEVERAL times over the last few days as we’ve worked through the piles of “stuff” at my inlaws’ home in Galveston. Especially in light of the fact that my step-mother-in-law’s will left ALL the contents of the house to her only daughter, excluding my husband and his older sister from any inheritance of the many things bought and paid for by their father (who died almost two years ago). We are getting the house ready for an estate sale, proceeds of which will go to my husband’s half-sister. She lives in D.C. and cannot take the time from work to do everything that needs to be done.

    I think that she is appreciative, and she has said as much. Because she is so much younger than her siblings, I’m not sure it has really occurred to her that it’s strange she received everything … they were pretty much out and on their own by the time she was starting school. Anyway, the three of them do own equal parts of the house – and your post has made it a little easier to not feel so angry about the other. Thank you. 🙂

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    • Laura – I’m so sorry AJ and his sister are feeling slighted, but in the end, it’s just stuff. Your labor of love and sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Rejoice and find peace that y’all are taking the high road once again and saving yourselves from pointless bickering.

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  2. I really appreciate this post. I agree that when we get caught up with thinking we “need” stuff, the “needs” are never-ending. We found that out the hard way when we foolishly bought a house we could barely afford and ended up losing the house five years later. My husband was a contractor and we bought the house during the construction boom, knowing it needed a lot of expensive repairs which we planned to pay for with future profits that, of course, never came. Going through something like that can really realign your priorities. We had to sell or give away a lot of “stuff” in order to move into a much smaller house we could afford while getting back on our feet. It really made us realize how unimportant most of that stuff really was and how blessed we are to have our family.

    I love the photos of your kids’ “artwork” too. I think the verse you chose should actually say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where toddlers and preschoolers destroy…”! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Tanya, for sharing your story. Not too different from ours. This is something with which all Christians struggle. It’s really easy to slip into the “need stuff” mode. That’s why it’s so important that we keep our Brothers and Sisters in check and keep encouraging them to stay on the right path.

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  3. Pingback: Free to Choose – 2.0 | txfatherofseven

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