(Jesus said) "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Luke 12:33-34
If the news in these Daily Devotions doesn't seem as fresh as usual, it's because Pastor Klaus prepared these devotions before he left for Europe. He is in Germany until early next week conducting a seminar with Lutheran military chaplains stationed overseas. He asks your prayers for all who attend and even more prayers for those who cannot.
We live in a society where people like to say, "Things aren't black and white." Rather, everything is supposed to be some shade of gray.
That may be true some of the time, but try as I might, I can't find a lot of gray in an Associated Press story recently carried by the Boston Herald.
The tale begins in front of a Walgreen's in Dover, New Hampshire. There, a Salvation Army bell ringer is trying to raise money for charity. Hour after hour he stands. Sometimes he sings; sometimes he rings; sometimes -- he does both.
Some of the store's customers who pass by respond generously; others look a bit sheepish as they slide through without giving a donation. Then there are those who feel compelled to explain why they're not giving. They'll often say something like this: "I'm sorry. I don't have anything smaller than a $50," or "I gave at another store earlier today."
Every bell ringer I've ever talked to has spoken of those three groups and most admit how they, after they've been working for a while, get pretty good at guessing who is going to give and who isn't. Of course, every now and then some other kind of person shows up.
And that's what happened in Dover.
That day, when the bell ringer stopped ringing and went inside the store to take a washroom break, somebody stole his kettle. Now I've tried to put the best construction on this -- like maybe the thief was desperate, or maybe the thief was going to go out collecting money for charity himself. No matter what excuse or explanation I came up with, stealing a Salvation Army kettle seemed wrong.
Jesus was right on the money when He indicated that your heart is going to be drawn to its treasure. That day in Dover, New Hampshire, there was a person whose heart was dedicated to raising money to help the poor, and there was an individual whose heart was dedicated to stealing from those in need.
Not much gray here, is there? Maybe that's why the Lord has said, ". . . the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21b). That's another way of saying, "if we bad people are going to be saved, we need a Savior." We need someone who will do what is right all the time, someone who never takes a break, someone who never steps away from the work of saving us.
That person, of course, is Jesus. It is His coming and His sacrifice, which we celebrate at Christmas time. We rejoice that the treasure of His heart was -- and still is -- the salvation of our souls.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for being all that I could never be, my thanks. For offering Your purity to pay for my sin, for taking my death so I might live -- I am indebted. Now may I, forgiven and saved, show the world that You are the Treasure of my heart. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries