Strategy for a Blessed New Year :: By Robert Mandel

In writing this article, it is my hope to provide the reader with a strategy for increased spiritual growth and blessing in the New Year. The basis of this plan is found in Matthew 6 where Jesus advises us to store up treasures in heaven.

We can easily imagine the obvious reason for this saying: to gain heavenly rewards that cannot be diminished nor destroyed. But I believe there is another important reason for this verse which the Lord supplies us in 6:21:

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

“for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.”

Most of us would truly appreciate any counsel which would focus our wishes, desires and life more certainly upon the Lord and His purposes than they presently are. I believe that here, within Mt. 6:21, hiding in plain sight, Jesus is providing a way for us to do exactly that!

For many years as a younger believer, I actually thought that the KJV scholars had made an error of some kind in the way that they had translated this verse. Does it not make more obvious sense to say: “Where your heart is, your treasure will follow”? We all tend to allocate our time, talent and treasure to the things we love, do we not? Our heart runs out ahead to attach itself to the things it loves and then calls to us to send along more time or treasure to indulge its affections more fully. Although this may be true, it appears that the Lord knew of another truth which He wanted us to understand … send your treasure on ahead to the places where God tells you and it will call to your heart to follow it to where it has gone!

Have you ever experienced this for yourself? You send a donation to a missionary and then find yourself wondering about them. You send out a little more treasure and find yourself reading their newsletters with interest. Continue the pattern and there you are, caring for and praying for them! Now here, for me, is the thrilling part: If it works for our treasure, why should it not work for our time!?

What if we were to give the Lord more time just as an “act of our will”?

Might He not honor this kind of sacrifice by increasing our desire to continue this practice? Years ago, a minister named Larry Lea came out with a solid teaching on how to spend an hour with God in prayer. I recall a certain phrase he used to encourage us to launch out even before we had the “emotional capital” to do so.

He taught that, if we remained steadfast in our commitment to this extra time, our discipline would turn into our desire, then, over time, our desire would become our delight. I am thinking that this principle is what our Savior is telling us Mt. 6:21. Could this verse also be understood to imply that,

Wherever your time is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Another confirmation of this idea is found in one of the Greek words for “love” used in scripture. “Eros” love is romantic love; “phileo” love is brotherly love; “agape” love is the “love of choice.” Along with the old hymn, we sometimes ask ourselves, “how the Lord could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean”? I believe that part of the answer is found in His “agape” love. It is not only unconditional; it is His choice! He chooses to love us and commits Himself to that choice before we ever give Him a reason to do so! Romans 5:8 explains it this way:

“God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

If God could do this for us, can we not emulate this example of His great love, now that we have personally experienced it? Do we really need to feel phileo love or eros love before we can practice agape love? What if we made a choice to commit more time and treasure to Him before we felt like doing so?!

If I am interpreting the meaning of Mt. 6:21 correctly, the Lord would honor our obedience by turning our discipline into desire and on into delight as we continue to seek His face!

I have decided to put these understandings into practice in 2020. If these thoughts have touched your hearts with a ray of light, perhaps you will join me.

May the Lord send our hearts on fresh pilgrimage to follow the trail we blaze with our commitment to love Him in new ways.

Robert Asher Mandel …