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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 9, 2013

God wants your heart. Therefore, he demands your money.

Jesus gives us these simple instructions concerning money and possessions: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)

He commands us not to store up money here on Earth, but instead to invest that money into heaven—into the Kingdom of God. Why is it so important to put your money into the Kingdom? Jesus explains: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

It is impossible to overlook the importance of that verse. Wherever your treasure is, that determines where your heart will be. Your money leads; your heart follows. Knowing this, Jesus commands us to put our money into eternal things. Why? So that our heart will be into eternal things.

For example, say you invest money into a company's stock. Previously, you didn't really care about that company, and you didn't bother to read news articles about them. Now, however, you're scouring the newspaper for any articles that even remotely relate to that company, you check their stock price daily, and you religiously read their earnings reports. What caused such a change? Your money went into the company and with it your heart.

This principle—where your money goes, your heart follows—is illustrated very well in Mark 10:17-22, which records the story of a rich young man who came to Jesus asking how to be saved. He had done everything right and followed all the laws and commandments, but, according to Jesus, there was "one thing" he lacked: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The man had great wealth, but really his wealth had him—it owned and controlled him. Jesus wanted the man's heart, and so Jesus demanded his money. Jesus knew that the man could never follow Him if his heart was more attached to his possessions than to God.

The man's face fell, and he went away sad because his heart was too attached to his possessions. His money was invested in his own possessions, and therefore his heart was invested in his own possessions. However, Jesus wanted to break that bondage, so he commanded the man to give away all of his possessions to others. By giving his money to help the poor and the needy, Jesus knew that the man's heart would be transformed into serving others, and in so doing he would come identify with and follow Christ.

Do you want your heart to be full of love for others? Give to them, and bless them with your money. Then your heart will follow.

If you want a heart for God, invest your money in building the Kingdom of God. Then your heart will follow. If you want a heart for the poor and the needy of the world, use your money to fight global poverty and hunger. Then your heart will follow. If you want a heart for global missions, support missionaries in Africa, Asia, and the rest of the world. Then your heart will follow. Wherever your treasure is, that's where your heart will be.

You can't collect a debt from someone who can't pay. Therefore, forgive!

The word "forgive", as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, means "to absolve from payment"; that is, to cancel a debt.

Unfortunately, many people try to force others who have hurt them to "pay" for their actions. Rather than forgiving -- "absolving from payment" -- such people try to force others to pay them back.

Other people may have committed evil against you; however, the Bible says that we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

An excellent example of this principle of overcoming evil with good can be seen in the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). He had many opportunities to be bitter toward others, yet he refused to do so. Indeed, he kept a good attitude even during greatly unfair circumstances.

When Joseph was seventeen years old, his brothers sold him into slavery (see Genesis 37). The slave traders took him to Egypt, where, Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, had a dream, which Joseph interpreted to mean that Egypt would have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph that he placed the young man in charge of the entire food supply of Egypt. Joseph stored food during the first seven years so that the country would survive during the subsequent seven.

After just a year or two of famine, Egypt was the only place around that had food left. And, sure enough, Joseph's brothers came to get food. Joseph could have demanded that his brothers repay him for abusing him, mistreating him, and selling him into slavery. But instead, Joseph forgave them -- he canceled their debt.

In your life, you will certainly be presented with situations in which you must choose either to try to force others to repay you for what they did to you or in which you can simply forgive them. Like Joseph, forgive!