19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus' teaching echoed the ancient Hebrew sages’ wisdom: eagerly amassing this world’s “treasures” does not produce a fulfilling life (cf. Proverbs 14:22, 21:20). Sadly, many religious leaders in Jesus' day ignored that part of their tradition. And remember, his prayer asked that God bring in his kingdom here, now. “Heaven” was not just far away and far in the future. Making God’s kingdom now your treasure was better than collecting the kind that might corrode or thieves could steal.
Lord Jesus, you are Lord of my life, and I want to “collect” your kinds of treasures. Increase my capacity to live out your values in my everyday choices of how to spend my time, energy and money. Amen.
* Wright, N.T., Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 63). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Did you hear the acronym E.G.O. (Edging God Out) this weekend in Adam Hamilton’s sermon? It is a great acronym and it reminds us that when our motives are coming from a place of ego and self-centeredness, we tend to push God away.
Here is what happened when I heard that acronym this weekend:
Adam: “…one of you shared with me the acronym EGO as Edging God Out…”
My ego (picture a little kid in a classroom waving his arm above his head): "I did! It was me! I shared that with you Adam. I even wrote a blog on it. I’m the 'one of you' that you are speaking of!!! It was MEEEEE!!"
And then I felt a wave of yuck as I observed myself having these thoughts. I could see my ego in action. In that brief moment, pausing to observe my ego opened up my mind to hearing from my soul.
My soul (picture a gentle kind voice of a loving mentor): "Ginger, many people know that acronym. Someone shared it with you, sweetheart. You didn’t invent it. It isn’t yours to hold possession of. Likely Adam has heard that acronym from a hundred other people too. Your ego wants attention and credit, but you don’t need it to be worthy. Instead, be grateful that the acronym is being taught and shared, just as you learned it once and shared it too. Ideas get better when shared. The acronym points people toward God, that is all that matters. Remember that and let your ego rest now so you can listen to the remainder of this sermon."
[The irony of this inner dialogue is not lost on me. My ego flared about an acronym on ego. Ugh!]
Welcome to my inner life. These conversations between my ego and soul’s voice are constantly occurring in my brain. When I talk with clients, I hear the same struggles in their brains too. Society pushes us to work harder, acquire more, do better, compete for the prize, and make sure you get the credit.
The ego is a sneaky part of our brain that helps us look out for our own survival, but unchecked it can become a harsh inner critic of ourselves and others. We have to work at keeping our egos in check. Some of us never master it totally, but we can grow faster at correcting it.
When I notice my ego flaring like I did on Sunday, it is a beautiful opportunity to return to God and remember my greatest priority: Loving God and loving people. It is as simple as that. When those things come first, I find peace and happiness. Learning to let go of needing recognition has been one of the most peace-giving practices I have learned (and obviously I’m still working on it).
In this stress filled time, egos are flaring around who has the best ideas for mask wearing, schools opening, social justice, and political elections. Egos show up when fear shows up. If we each pause long enough to notice our own egos flaring, then maybe we contribute to a collective deep breath that will allow our souls to speak to us with wisdom and guidance.
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