“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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Reference: Matthew 6:19-21 )
I am assuming, beloved, that if you knew nothing about historic Anabaptists before this year, you have learned a good bit about by them by now. It should not surprise you then as to how historic Anabaptists regarded wealth – consider how they felt about “pride”!
Pieter Pietersz wrote in a treatise entitled Some Helpful Teachings (1625) “It is also important for Christians who wish to lead an unblemished life that they avoid trading in large buying and selling transactions, since the world is full of deceit, cunning, and intrigue, 1 Cor. 7:30; Prov. 26:28. In working with these things people fall into great peril of staining their soul, for it is impossible (I think) for someone who has their eyes upon riches or loves them, to save their soul from destruction, even as the apostle said: those who want to become rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless desires, 1 Tim. 6:9. Therefore I cannot, to the best of my knowledge, understand God’s Word otherwise than that the desire for riches is the foremost cause for the destruction of our soul, the birth mother and root of all evil, which Christians who want to remain pure must fear and avoid, 1 Tim. 6:10-11. Therefore a Christian must, for better or worse, go through this world with limited means, with a clear intention to follow Christ, and to forsake all worldly pleasures, living soberly and disciplined, and seeing their treasure only in the kingdom of God and the eternal fatherland, placing their hope in that, Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23; Titus 2:12; Matt. 6:20; Heb. 11:14; 1 Tim. 6:10-11; 1 Pet. 4:7; Luke 21:31.”
Do not think that historic Anabaptists were the only ones who lived austere lives. Beginning in the middle 1500’s several groups emerged that felt living simply and plainly was right and good to do. Quakers, Calvinist and other groups shunned opulence and finery preferring to dress and live simply. And this way of living comes from previous eras when the Christians and other faith traditions set aside “worldly pleasures” for a more stoic and reserved way of living.
However, and it is a big one, the definition of “worldly pleasures” has become more and more blurred. How would one define now a “worldly” pleasure? And what “pleasure” do people have in the world that is superfluous and that they would give up? You see, while the gulf between the “haves” and “have nots” grows wider, the divisions amongst the “haves” is growing narrower. If you are a “have”, it is no longer a matter of giving up something or not giving it up, but how much importance you place in it. And that, beloved, is a very unpopular sermon.
The days of the historic Anabaptists were simpler times, and the application of these types of verses were easier to understand and carry out. In our modern times it is more difficult and takes deeper and broader thinking. We have so much MORE than any other generation; but we also have some many more people who have not nearly enough. In the coming days, depending on the verses, we might delve more into some of these issues.
For this day, beloved, may you consider what you “treasure” and how it contributes to the journey that God calls you to. Selah!