Scripture is clear on the point that real estate is of primary importance. None other than Jesus himself indicated that buying the right property is crucial (see Matthew 13:44). In fact, He seemed to say that the right property is worth much more than all of your current and future wealth. The only catch regarding this property Jesus speaks of, is that you can’t actually buy it through your local real estate agent, nor can you fund it by talking to your mortgage broker. Additionally, the point needs to be made that what makes this slice of real estate so very, very valuable is not the property itself, but something greater, but what?
If I had titled this blog, “Beware of Greed”, I wonder how many would have even read the first sentence. God has indeed put into heart of man the desire for great treasure. The problem is that we lose perspective easily and spend so much time and energy pursuing that which is of little comparative value. Our default position is typically greed. It’s so subtle, so sneaky. It's also like a strong current that will take you away if you don't push back. What makes the money idol especially dangerous is that we are easily deceived in this area of our lives. It is deeply ironic that, though most appreciate we live in a greedy age, rare is the individual who recognizes himself or herself as such. It’s for these reasons Jesus warned us to be on guard against greed and covetousness (Luke 12:15). He knows that money is one of the primary counterfeit gods. He knows that we gravitate towards greed and chasing financial progress over pursuing Him, the greater treasure.
It’s quite possible that Jesus’ words in Luke 12:15 have never been more relevant given the world we live in today, a world in which houses are not places to raise families so much as they are tax shelters and investments to be flipped; a world in which investment portfolios are not so much markers of prudent preparation for the future but rather a means to freedom; a world where price tags have been put on things that didn’t use to have price tags.
All of this brings us back to the parable of the field with the treasure, the central point of which is about appreciating relative value. That is to say, value is always relative and worth strictly comparative. A $1,000,000 property in Burnaby, for example, is valuable relative to a $300,000 property in Kamloops but not so relative to a $5,000,000 one on the Westside. In essence, the parable about the field with great treasure comes down to recognizing true value and responding accordingly. It’s about putting our money where we say our hearts are and getting more of the greater treasure in return.
It’s not that money and real estate is unimportant, but rather that such are relatively unimportant in light of your eternal existence. Christ, your relationship therein and the kingdom is of far greater and more lasting value. In their willingness to give up what is relatively meaningless, smart investors demonstrate a keen awareness of value. Crucially, they don’t ‘push back' by fighting greed so much as they displace the money god with someone worth more.
If greed conceals itself so well though, how do we know whether we are living in light of this greater treasure? Andrew Carnegie is credited with observing that millionaires seldom smile. The man who bought the field with the treasure in it though did so joyfully though. Simply put, one of the tests is whether or not our lives are marked by joy. Put differently, if someone offered you the $5,000,000 Westside property referenced above for $10,000 how would you respond? If someone offers you salvation without cost how should you respond?
To help us answer the last question Westside will be launching a financial stewardship ministry early in 2016.