We are empty-nesters. All our kids are living on their own, working and happy. We are even anticipating the birth of our first grandchild in March. Raising kids costs a lot of money, and yet it is so very much worth it.
Not all need to go to college, depending on their chosen careers, but those who do are facing ever-increasing, amazingly large tuition bills. I remember when I attended a private liberal arts college in the Twin Cities and the cost crossed over the $10,000 mark for the year (tuition, books, room and board included) and I thought, “How can these prices keep going up?” But they have continued to go up with no signs of reversing the trend.
Here is a voicemail greeting from one young man who had developed a rather inconsistent view of money: “Hi. This is John. If this is the telephone company, I already sent the money. If this is my parents, please send me money. If you are my financial aid officer, you didn’t lend me enough money. If you are one of my friends, you owe me money. If you are a single female, don’t worry — I have plenty of money. Please leave a message accordingly after the beep.”
And yet, we must remember, life is not all about money.
Revelation 21:21 says that the streets in the New Jerusalem will be paved with gold. The point of the Apostle John’s description is to show the glory of the heavenly city and more importantly, the glory of the God who resides there. But it also speaks to the relative lack of value of the things that we treasure here on Earth.
Gold, one of people's most prized possessions, is pavement in heaven. What really matters? What do you treasure? And are you thankful for what God gives?
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says: “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 will your heart be also.”
This passage contrasts two types of treasure: that which is on Earth and is temporary and unsatisfying, and that which is heavenly and brings lasting peace and joy.
Almost a decade ago, billionaire Ted Turner was quoted in "The Wittenburg Door" (March/April 1996, page 38) as saying, “Millions don’t count for much anymore. ... According to Jesus Christ, money is worthless. It won’t buy you anything in heaven if there is one. And it might not even get you in.”
Actually, according to Jesus, there is a heaven, and money won't have anything to do with whether or not we get in. The entrance fee was paid by Jesus Christ as he died on the cross bearing your sin and mine. He took our punishment. The only way into eternity with our holy God is by receiving the amazing gift of grace offered by Jesus. For believers, in this Thanksgiving season, that’s what we should be thankful for above all else.
So don’t put your faith in something as fleeting as money. Put your faith in the son of God, Jesus Christ, who loved us and died for us “while we were still sinners ...” (Romans 5:8). He is the only one to trust with your eternity. And be thankful he has offered a way into fellowship with God.
If you’ve never turned your life over to Jesus Christ, do it today. Then you’ll have something for which you can be truly thankful this Thanksgiving.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. Scott Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Two Harbors since 1993.