The Bible is clear that we are to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). But how many of us take this invitation seriously? It was in thinking about what treasure (or lack thereof) I had laid up in heaven that I imagined this parable of sorts. As you read it consider how well you’ve done in heeding Jesus’ words to store up treasures where moth and rust will not destroy.
More Than a Coin for the Master
The heat from the flames surrounded him with a tenacious roar that billowed as if blown by a blacksmith’s bellows to fire the coals. The man traveled with lightning speed, propelled by some unknown force. A blanket of air protected his body from the flames lapping over his legs. Then without warning the fire consumed his clothing and singed his hair. Instinctively he understood the flames were a judgment burning away everything worldly, yet he was preserved.
In the midst of this furnace, he did not experience pain or fear. He felt a deep cleansing–a removal of filth, vanity, and pride. Though the flames engulfed his body, he escaped through the flames in the perfect of time. Only a moment more, and he himself would have been destroyed.
Though his passing through the flames lasted but seconds, it seemed like hours. Time slowed as all of his life played before his consciousness like a movie on a screen. As the film displayed his life, he experienced sorrow for his poor choices. Deep regret overwhelmed him, as he realized like never before how much of his life was a loss.
As the flames retreated, he felt a glowing, refreshing warmth coming from within his clenched fist and within his heart, a pleasure unspeakable like nothing he could remember. Slowly he opened his hand and drew his arm upward revealing a small coin. This coin minted of gold glistened finer than any gold of earth, its purity such that though it appeared almost transparent, it seemed also solid and heavy, reflecting the brilliant light into a kaleidoscope of color.
This single coin brought him as great a fulfillment as he had ever known. Instinctively he knew it was a reward from his Master, the one who ordered him into and ushered him through the flames. With his great joy came also regret. It was all he had to show for the entirety of his service on earth to the Master, for he lived nearly all of his life in service to himself. He felt glad for the coin, but knew now how much he lost serving his own purposes and loving earthly treasures.
Looking up he noticed others like himself, escaping through the flames. To his left arrived another, who landed on solid ground shrouded by a thick mist. As the fog cleared he saw a man, standing at the edge of a fertile field holding a sack so large, his eyes barely popped over the top to see. His bushel–so full as though it should burst any moment–was filled with gold, diamonds, and other precious gems. And though this man was thin and unassuming, he carried his load without strain. The fellow looked confused and gazed into the light flowing from a golden throne.
It was obvious he stood perplexed, wondering what of his life should deserve such a reward.
Suddenly he spoke out, inquiring of his treasure, and why it had come to him, a poor sinner. Though the throne’s distance seemed miles away, with perfect sight and hearing did the Master’s reply come, as if only across a room. The treasure, the Master explained, was awarded for one special moment, on one famous day, when this man’s son broke a large window while playing with a hard ball inside the living room.
Suddenly the moment played in three dimensions before us. The father corrected his son’s foolishness but without anger, following his reprimand with a story of his own failings and finishing the correction with a host of hugs and kisses of reassuring love. Instead of anger, the Master explained, the man quickly forgave his son, counting opportunity to train more important than the value of the glass. The son never forgot the lesson, nor did the Master. When the commendation ended, all of the heavens joined in a chorus of applause, both for the man standing holding the treasure and for the Master whose grace enabled him.
After the clapping grew quiet, the Master again spoke, directing the man to turn around. With that everyone looked to see sack upon sack of treasure laid out all the way to the horizon of the land on which he stood. All this was his reward, and the Master explained each one.
When ten thousand earth years or more passed, and the ceremonies were complete, both men with their treasures still stood quite puzzled. “What need for treasure with streets paved in gold?” they questioned themselves. But no answer was needed, for instinctively they knew. Both began to walk, as an urging from their spirit drew them up to the throne.
Joining countless others in procession, treasures in hand, they worshipped the Master with song and an offering. Some cast their crowns, and some cast their gold, and one man hurled rubies to the base of the throne. The bright light originating from the Master, whiter than snow, shone through jewels and reflected and glistened with a spectrum of color like nothing seen since Noah’s first rainbow.
The man with the coin, eager to cast, hurled it throne-ward with a great burst of joy. The man with the sack couldn’t open it fast enough. He tossed his gold, his silver, and sapphire crowns and more. As joy flowed out hilarious with praises and spontaneous songs, he danced before the Master.
The man with the coin, glad for the display, felt no envy or jealousy. Rather, he shared a deep gladness, for the glory belonged to the Master. At the same time, he realized a deep nagging loss for the treasures he once wasted, rewarding himself. The loss was not self-focused. Rather it was simply that deep in his heart, he so desired to have more than a coin for the Master.
“ If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).