Around the world in many different ancient cultures, items buried with the dead have been found; Egypt is a notable example. These items were buried to appease the dead (ex. money for the ferryman who transports you), sacrifice to the gods or things for the deceased to use in the afterlife- tools, money, possessions with servants and wives for the rich. We still do it today but in North America it is usually things the person loved such as a Bible, baseball cap or things you always wore like a wedding ring or glasses.
The other day I finally realized why possessions in this world are, well, nothing important. We can’t take them with us. Even if we bury every single one of our possessions with us, they remain behind, but even if they could physically come with us- they really couldn’t. (Not even these dilapidated bodies get into Heaven.) Every single man made thing is imperfect, flawed, corrodes, rusts, weakens, breaks down, gets ruined, stolen, broken, etc.
In trying to make a comparison, the things we have here are like poop compared to the glorious vitality and excellence of Heaven. We won’t want such ugliness when we are there. Even the newest, fancy car here is like garbage to what will be in Heaven. In Heaven, there is no rot, death, sickness, basically nothing anti-life exists (death is anti-life) “…for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4 KJV). One time God blessed me with a vision of what I will look like in Heaven and the most predominant thing is best described as ‘exuding life’, every cell, every feature, everywhere.
Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Mt. 6:19-21
We work hard to buy ourselves treasures in this life, those things that bring us pleasure or comfort. We sacrifice to be able to surround ourselves with what makes us feel good about life or things we think will make our lives easier, but all those things eventually end up as waste in some way. So we spend all this time and effort on things that won’t last. That does not sound wise to me.
There is nothing wrong with owning things as long as the need for things does not control you. “…For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2Pt. 2:19 ESV) Possessions can be useful for our own lives and for others, but the problem is that we tend toward idolatry with possessions. We want more, better, faster, fancier…
We sacrifice family, friends and our own health at the altar of goods and wealth. “…they worshiped and served the created thing more than the Creator…” (Rom. 1:25) We’ll buy our child their third new ipod (upgrade) when the person in the pew beside us is struggling to buy food, and we don’t even consider that, after all, if we don’t see their lack or ask about their lives than our unawareness of it makes it easier to ignore their needs. But things are only worth something if they further the kingdom of God. “But seek first the kingdom of God…” (Mt. 6:33)
Now I look around and see all these things as insignificant. If they aren’t going to do the most important thing, help people to know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ so that they can one day experience blessed eternal life, then I don’t need them. Better to spend the money on something that can help people find the Lord. So I think my life has changed again, and all I can say is I am so grateful to God that He doesn’t give up teaching us the things we need to know, and He is with us step by step every day while we learn.
Our God is such a great God!