Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art“
This is one verse from my favorite hymn of ALL time, Be Thou My Vision. I love this song so much, I sing it almost daily in my car. (The version from Audrey Assad is the best, fyi:-).
And it’s not like I love this song because it’s a hymn or because it sounds pretty or because it has perfect rhyming.
I love this song because it speaks to me. I struggle with every theme detailed in the song. Of course, the whole song is about fixing our eyes on Jesus. But this verse especially, which is about putting Christ above all other things in our hearts, is something I struggle with immensely.
Often times, when I think of Jesus being the first in my heart, I think of “marrying” Jesus before I marry anyone else. I think of falling in love with Jesus first before I fall for some boy. And these things are true. But this limits the extent of what it means to make Jesus “the first in our hearts.” Putting Jesus first is so much more than that.
“Riches I heed not…” Putting Jesus first in our hearts also means putting him above all the physical treasures of this world. This is an abstract idea, putting Jesus before physical things. But what I’ve learned is to ask whether I think about something more than Jesus. Whether I spend more time with that thing than I do with Jesus.
I love my car. Her name is Susan. She’s a 2007 Honda Civic, gold-ish colored. It started as a joke, but now I talk to Susan randomly when I drive her. It’s not weird, I promise. Don’t worry about it. She’s amazing. And…
There you go. I could think of hundreds of examples of me putting physical things above Jesus. It’s not bad to enjoy the blessings God’s given me. It’s not bad to use them. But it is bad to treasure that thing over Jesus, something I am very guilty of.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
Having money and being thankful for it is very different than loving money. Having a car named Susan and being thankful for her is very different than loving my car named Susan.
“Nor man’s empty praise…” Most of us just live for validation. Whether that validation comes from teachers, friends, family, loved ones, it doesn’t matter. Being complimented or praised by someone you care about is one of my favorite things, and I tend to live off that praise like Winnie the Pooh lives off honey.
But what is the loudest voice in my mind? The voices of my loved ones, praising me every once in a while? Or Jesus’s voice telling me, “You are loved. You are created with purpose. You are saved. You are cherished. You are mine”?
Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
There is a difference between appreciating praise and living for it. There is a difference between being thankful for it and basing your identity on it.
And lastly, “First in my heart…” The words that sum up the whole song.
A few days ago, I listened to a chapel given by one of our school staff that really impacted me. She shared her testimony about a relationship she had been in, and her hope for eventually being a mom, no matter what it took. But that relationship she had been in had fallen apart, and she was left brokenhearted. She talked about one instance when God asked her, “am I enough?”
I found these words convicting. Years ago, before I had been in any real relationship, I wrote in one of my books, “It is enough” as a hope for my main character, Harold. I don’t plan on sharing my testimony this morning about relationships (I will sometime, though:-), but believe me when I say recognizing that Jesus is enough is the greatest comfort when you feel brokenhearted and alone.
But it is also a truth that doesn’t go away in times of plenty. Jesus is always enough, in all circumstances, and should be the only thing that is enough for us in this world.
“My treasure, thou art…” So how do we treasure Jesus?
The truth is, treasuring our savior, the one that loves us more than we can even comprehend, isn’t a one-and-done task. It is a lifestyle of gratitude and love for Jesus. As humans, we automatically fix our eyes on material things or earthly things like human relationships and approval more than Jesus because we can see these things. Feel them. Experience them.
2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us, “We look not at things which are seen, but at things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Talk to Jesus. Read his word. Daily. Or weekly. But often. This sounds so cliche, and I’m sure you hear this far too often. But putting Jesus first means spending time with him. And how can you treasure your savior when you refuse to speak with him?
Ask God to “Be thou my vision.” And no matter what, he is always enough.
Listen to the song “Better” by Pat Barrett. It always reminds me of “Be thou my Vision” and has changed my life:-)