“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Matthew 6:19-21
I cannot claim authorship of what follows … and I don’t remember when or where I first heard this tale. And yes, it’s one of those stories where Saint Peter stands at heaven’s gate like a glorified Wal-Mart greeter … but …
Well, some stories are too good to not pass on. Here goes:
Once upon a time, there was a man who considered himself devoted to God and to his church. Not only was he a fine, upstanding citizen—and a leader in his city’s business community—but he was also a member of his church’s Council—in fact, he was chairperson twice. He was an usher and a Scripture reader and a faithful attender. He even had enough courage to teach Sunday School once. He was loved and respected by all who knew him, and the Lord had blessed him with material wealth.
At the end of a long lifetime, the man died. And he found himself standing at the pearly gates, face-to-face with Saint Peter, who greeted him warmly and said he’d been expecting him. Then Peter said, “Welcome to your new home in heaven. Follow me, and I’ll show you where you’ll be living.”
So the man followed Peter into the New Jerusalem, and onto a wide, brightly lit street paved with gold. The man was excited as he looked around at the unbelievably large and beautiful mansions which lined the street.
“Wow!” the man thought. “I’m going to love living here.”
But Peter led him beyond that street, and they came to a slightly less well-appointed—but still beautiful—thoroughfare. To be sure, it wasn’t quite as wide, and it was paved only with silver, not with gold. And the houses which lined this street were not as impressive as the first ones, but still were very nice.
“Well, I’ll be happy living here, too,” the man thought.
But Peter led the man past these houses, as well. And as they kept walking, they moved through progressively deteriorating neighbourhoods, with ever-uglier houses and narrower streets.
Finally, in a run-down district of heaven, Peter stopped at a narrow, dark, dirty old alleyway. There, he pointed to a battered cardboard box next to a smelly old dumpster, swarming with flies. And he said, “Here’s your new home. How do you like it?
Well, the man was dumbfounded, and more than a little angry. In fact, he was indignant.
“Saint Peter!” he exclaimed, “I don’t understand this. How come other people in heaven get to live in fabulous mansions, but all I get is this crummy cardboard box.”
“Well, sir,” Peter replied, “we did the best we could with the money you sent us.”
The offering will now be received.