Treasures in Heaven
not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not
break through nor steal:
Matthew Chap. 6 vs 19,20
The Lexicon attached to my Online Bible gives the Greek word as thesauros
which can mean the place where treasures are kept i.e. a treasury or the treasures
kept therein. So despite the fact that the Prayer Book uses the singular
Treasure in Heaven, I rather like the plural since it fits well with what follows:
In 1983 I wrote what I called a Manifesto
which began with the above quotation and continued:
I seem to have reached a plateau in my life, where I find the need to consolidate
my knowledge and experience into a coherent set of beliefs.
And later: In trying to consolidate my
has become a favourite word, both as a noun and a verb, since it accurately
reflects the idea of stored value. The words of Jesus on the front page
are much more than a rejection of materialism, the saying ‘You can't
take it with you’ covers that. Treasures in
Heaven is, I believe, that which we can take
with us. And its acquisition is then the clear purpose of Life.
What I did not then know was
that the next seven years were to be "fat ones" with much to treasure
and to be followed by maybe more than seven "lean years". Leaner certainly
but with many high points to treasure. I am not Joseph and I do not
have a Technicolor Dream Coat. Instead I have collected some of my treasures
here on the Web. This paper is by way of justifying my self indulgence.
Cloning is now in the news. If one wanted to
turn a clone of me (that is a body with exactly the same genes) into an
actual copy of me, it would have to somehow be given my memory. Not just
those memories which I can bring to mind and verbalise, but the whole history
of my experiences which is presumably somehow stored in my mind (or perhaps
brain) and makes me what I am. In other words add a copy of
the nurture to the copied nature.
The same is true if I am going to have an existence
after death. In the Creed we say we believe in the Resurrection
of the Body. But a spiritual (or any other) body which is recognisably
me, perhaps developed from a record of my genes in the Book of Heaven,
is not enough, it would have to be recognisably me in personality
too, otherwise there is a serious philosophical difficulty in regarding
the result as ME at all. Therefore I have to take my memory with me. Given
that "going to heaven" also involves a transformation, there would
have to be a losing of some "bad" memory and nurture and the enhancing
of "good" memory and nurture. Perhaps this is what Judgement means and
the division into Sheep and Goats of which Jesus also spoke.
So, I suggest, one way of interpreting building up Treasures in Heaven
is collecting, through life, those memories and experiences which are to
be kept when we finally go to heaven. And, to refine that thought, this
does not exclude things, objects, pictures, music and any other thing of
good report as St Paul calls them. Obviously we cannot take with us
any of these; However we can take a memory of them, but what really matters is
not just the recollection but what the experience or ownership of such
things did to our souls. Thus I am not talking just of happy memories but
those things which moved us, which might be happy but can equally well
be sad. An obvious example is of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales:
Very sad, but, for those who experienced it, possibly, literally, life
This quality, the "Wow!"
we say when we are moved by something, is the first criterion I would
put on recognising Heavenly Treasures.
The second criterion is whether the memory has value now, living in the
present. Has it taught us something worthwhile, thrown light on how we
live or improved our present life in some way?
Similarly this Real
Treasure, Treasures stored in Heaven, Treasures
stored for Heaven, do not tarnish because the means by which they were provided
goes sour. For example: Treasured memories of a friend, who later betrays
the friendship, should not be abandoned. If they were real at the time,
their value is eternal. This is not true of Earthly Treasure which
moth and rust corrupt..... So we have a third criterion.
Summarising the criteria for Heavenly Treasures
They moved us in the past
They have value in the present
Their qualities are valid for the future
Finally, something must be said about the greatest
source of Treasure:
(to which the above criteria certainly apply) the love of those close
to us and the love we are able to show to those around us. Love
is a word used in our everyday language to cover feelings ranging
from the soppy to the sublime. Treasure avoids that.
The sentence I
conveys a wealth of meaning without the confusions surrounding the more usual
I love you.
Treasures us more clearly defines His
relationship with us than the phrase God
is Love which can be misleading.
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