Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 NRSV
When we think of guarding treasure we usually think of the physical world. Treasure chests buried in the sand, perhaps. Or – less fun, but more practical – locks, alarm systems, insurance policies and the like.
On the surface this might seem to contradict Christ’s admonition in Matthew 5:15-16 to put our light on a lampstand, to let it shine before others “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
We can’t very well shine forth our treasure – the gift of Christ – if we guard it by locking it away, hiding it from others, only to be taken out and treasured when no-one is lurking about.
This apparent paradox is resolved when we consider that our treasure is not something we guard by hiding it within. Our treasure is Christ living and working through us in the Holy Spirit, and that treasure has been in us since before we took human form. And, its worth is only truly realized when we freely share it with others.
How, then, do we guard our treasure? We do so not by hiding it within from external threats. There is no external force that can diminish the gift given within us, by grace, in the Spirit. Rather, we guard our treasure from the threat that also resides within us: the alluring, persistent voice of our own ego.
In the words of Walt Kelly’s classic comic character Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” An appropriate addendum would be to say the enemy is the false “us,” the “us” that exists only in the fear and greed of our ego.
We hold to sound teaching, and live in faith and love with Christ, when we surrender to the Holy Spirit, and allow it to wash away the selfish desires that draw us from God. In that surrender we secure a treasure far greater than our minds can conceive.
Lord, help us to hold to your teaching, to live in love with the Spirit, to share your gifts freely, to surrender all fear and greed, and to thus secure your Kingdom. Amen.