Money to Burn
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:8
We are in the midst of the Christmas season, the designated time of the year in which the church has traditionally celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is also a time of the year when families gather together. If your family is anything like mine, each annual gathering is like a new chapter in the family album of Christmas memories. Some years stand out more than others, depending on what might take place.
One particular Christmas family gathering is vividly etched upon my memory. My wife and I call it the “gift card Christmas.” We had only been married for a few years, and had yet to enter the world of parenthood. We made the trip to our hometown to spend Christmas Day with family. The first part of the day was spent at her grandmother’s house, while the afternoon and evening was spent at my father’s house. At my father’s house was the usual hodgepodge of extended family consisting of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. After the traditional Christmas dinner, we all gathered in the living room to exchange Christmas presents. Now whenever my family opens up Christmas presents, the chaos and fury can be likened to the intensity of an EF5 tornado. And, after all the presents have been opened, my father traditionally gathers up all the torn wrapping paper, bows, and excess boxes. He then burns all of it up in the fireplace. On this particular Christmas, he hurriedly tackled this task as he always did. But he was in so much of a hurry, he accidentally burned up a $50.00 Sears department store gift card given to him by his mother. In all of the hustle and bustle of opening the Christmas gifts, this gift card been shuffled into a pile of torn wrapping paper. I suppose my father that day gave a new meaning to the term, “money to burn.” My dad responded rather well to his own blunder, knowing from an eternal perspective that the gift card did not matter. My grandmother has passed away since, but she never found out what happened that day. We all as a family felt it was best to shield her from knowing that the gift she purchased for her son had gone up in flames!
This event has always reminded me of the danger in putting too much stock upon earthly possessions. Earthly things are destroyed by moth and rust (Matthew 6:19-20). Even more sobering is the fact that God’s ultimate and final plan for the earth is destruction by fire (2 Peter 3:7). This means all that we own – our homes, clothes, toys, and yes, even our gift cards will burn up when it is all said and done. The things that last forever are kingdom things. They are matters of eternity such as God, His Word, and the souls of men.
Particularly in the passage above, we are reminded of eternality of God’s Word. The prophet Isaiah described the world as a place filled with temporal things. He used the illustration of flowers and grass. As beautiful as they might be, Isaiah understood that they too eventually wilt and die. He knew that everything around him was withering and fading. Then Isaiah contrasted these temporal things to the eternal Word of God. God’s Word is stable, sturdy, and eternal. Because it does not change, it stands forever. The winds of change may blow, but God’s Word does not budge. Even if it were to be tried by fire, it would never wilt up or melt away. The Word of God has always stood the test of time, and will do so forever.
Oh that we would not be white knuckled people! May we loosen our fingers and our grip upon the temporal and embrace and cherish things eternal. I pray this snippet from a random Martin family Christmas gathering can help you set your sight on things above, and not on things of this earth (Colossians 3:2).
– Pastor Eric