June has arrived, and for most of our readers, so has the beginning of the summer season. Many of us are looking forward to vacations and having more time to relax. Those of us who are students are looking forward to having more opportunities to earn money. While we enjoy the opportunities to labor and also rest, may we not lose sight of the true riches of the kingdom of heaven during the summer months.
Especially during the summer months, when many of us may be more tempted to obtain the riches of this world, may we remember the words of Jesus in his well-known Sermon on the Mount (or Sermon on the Kingdom). Matthew 6:19-21 records Jesus’ teaching concerning the contrast between the earthly treasures and the heavenly treasures. In this passage, he teaches the multitude gathered around him, his disciples, and all his people the proper attitude concerning earthly and heavenly treasures. In these verses, he states: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We must pray for the grace and strength to do this because our sinful human nature can be so easily tempted to focus more on the corruptible earthly riches and less on the incorruptible heavenly riches.
As we fight this temptation, we have an entirely different attitude from most people in this world who are never satisfied with the earthly riches they have but are always coveting more riches. When we think about our Savior obtaining the true heavenly riches for us, then we are humbled. He is the Son of God and king of all creation who left the glorious riches of heaven, became a man and was born into poverty. When he was born, his mother Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Our God and Savior lived a life of poverty the entire 33½ years he walked upon this earth. Jesus implied this when a scribe came to him and told him that he was going to follow him whithersoever Jesus went. Jesus responded to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). The apostle Paul reminds us of our Savior’s poverty in II Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Our Lord Jesus loves us so much. He became a man and lived in poverty. Not only did he become a poor man, but he also took upon himself our sins and paid for all of them. Having paid for our sins through his suffering and death, he arose from the grave and ascended in heaven where “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). Because Jesus is exalted in heaven, we have eternal life and can enjoy the true riches of his heavenly kingdom forever.
With our eyes fixed on these true heavenly riches, we must labor when we are given opportunities to provide for our earthly material needs or help our parents provide for these needs. As we cheerfully labor, we should know the primary reason for doing this. We are not laboring just to obtain earthly goods. We are not earning an allowance or paycheck to update our wardrobes with the newest fall fashions. We are not laboring primarily for the means to have fun. We are laboring with our eyes set on the kingdom of heaven.
Thinking on the kingdom of heaven, we are willing to use the blessings of our labors to cheerfully assist our parents and all our fellow saints as the Lord provides. In II Corinthians 9:7, we are exhorted to cheerfully give because God loves a cheerful giver. Young people, pay attention when your parents remind you of the financial sacrifices they are making to provide you with a Christian education, and be willing to discuss with them your ability to assist them with their financial obligations. As young adults who have full-time jobs, may we use this time of our lives to give of our abundance to the causes of the kingdom.
We also can take time during the summer months to fellowship with our families and other fellow saints and enjoy the creation. Many of our young people will gather together as the summer months draw to a close at the Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention for a week of spiritual fellowship. If we use these special opportunities properly, we will be refreshed physically and spiritually. We should not forget about our spiritual lives while we are enjoying our summer activities. We should be willing also during these times of fellowship to talk about the true riches of the kingdom.
With our minds set on the true riches, we will have a profitable summer. We will use all the opportunities we have to praise our Lord for the riches of salvation. Our goal this summer and always will be a life of serving him because we are thankful for the eternal life he has given us.