We’re all pretty familiar with the safe deposit box. Little metal box kept in a bank vault that you can rent to store away valuables for safe keeping.
The contents of a safe deposit box are usually kept secret. Even from the bank. Known only to the person who rented it and whomever they chose to disclose the contents to.
People use them to store away all sorts of things. From important documents like wills to valuable jewelry or even cash and the list goes on. It all depends on the person who rents it and what it was that they deemed valuable enough to pay for it to be locked up in the security of a bank vault.
Jesus said that we have a safe deposit box that is much like the ones used in banks. It is your heart. In Luke 12:34 we read that Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This verse is often applied to financial principals and is a favorite of pastors when it comes time to talk about tithing. It is easy to make the mistake of assuming this only refers to our money and how we spend it. Jesus actually uses the word “treasure” to refer to our hearts, not our money. Like the safe deposit box used in banks to keep valuable items safe the things we value most are hidden away in the depths of our hearts. Just as the contents of a safe deposit box vary depending on what a person values so do the contents of a person’s heart.
Yes, our spending habits are a sure principal of how this verse can be applied to our lives. But the Greek word tanslated treasure here is not limited to our money. The word is thesauros and literally means “deposit.” It literally denotes “a place of safe keeping.” What Jesus implies is that our “place of safe keeping” is our hearts and it’s important for us to be aware of what exactly it is we have in there.
The thing about our hearts is that they are tricky. When a person puts something in a safe deposit box he or she knows exactly what is in there. But not so with our hearts. The prophet Jeremiah warned that our hearts are more deceitful than anything else (cf. Jer. 17:9). Only God knows what’s really in our hearts (cf. v.10).
In the Greek language thesauros was used figuratively to refer to wealth because a person’s wealth is usually kept in a safe place. But not only the kind of wealth limited to a monetary sense. It could’ve been used to refer to anything that someone considered valuable or any valuable asset that would’ve added to a person’s networth. How does this apply to us and our hearts?
One way to look at it is that it refers to the things we value that are important enough to be kept safe. Another way to look at it is the things we celebrate. The things that are important to us will not only be the things we seek to keep safe but also the things we celebrate. This could be your money, your possessions, your ethics, your faith, your family, your political beliefs, your church, the building your church meets in, your reputation or anything else under the sun.
If I were to ask you, “What is important to you? What do you value in life?” You would undoubtedly have a list for me which you could rattle off in a few seconds. You’re probably going through it right now. Take a second to think about that list of things you value and consider important. Things you celebrate or seek to keep safe.
Everyday we celebrate or invest into the things which we value in our hearts. We Christians are quick to say that God and the things of God are important to us. We’re quick to proclaim with our lips how important our faith is. Pastors are quick to talk about how much they love people and want to help them. But it is a worthy venture to stop every now and then and do some honest inventory to make sure our hearts have not deceived us.
Our hearts will deceive us into thinking we value things we don’t really value at all. Or it will deceive us into thinking we value certain things more than we actually do. The first step to being deceived by our own hearts is to think that you are above being deceived by your own heart. While our hearts will fool us our actions and words will expose us.
In the direct context of the passage in Luke Jesus gives this statement as a rebuke against greed, covetousness and self-centeredness. He told a parable of a man who had stored up great wealth for himself but was not rich towards God. The man had great concern for the things that were stored up in his barn. And he stored up those things not just to protect them but also as a way of celebrating himself.
In the parable the rich man says:
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” Luke 12:19
Those were the things he protected and that was his way of celebrating himself. He no concern for the things that were stored up in his heart. But his words and actions revealed what was in his heart. Greed, covetousness and self-centeredness.
Jesus calls us to examine what it is we really value. Is it our recognition among men, our sound equipment, our church buildings, the money in our bank accounts, our cars and houses and all the little things in the house? Or is it the things that really matter?
Take some time today to pause and make an honest reflection about yourself. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees of whom Jesus said, “They praise me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” If you were to never once with your lips proclaim what is important to you would others be able to tell just by looking at your life? What’s really in your safe deposit box? Don’t let your heart fool you.
Questions for reflection:
1. What kind of things do you celebrate or find joy regularly?
2. What was the last major event or thing you made a point to celebrate?
3. What kind of things do you naturally seek to keep safe?
4. Do the answers to these questions reveal anything to you about what you say value and what you actually value?
– Joseph Sterling