Monday, December 12, 2011

Where Thieves Break In

Where Thieves Break In

Today I received a letter from friends who work as translators and teachers in another country. They are helping to translate the Bible into a language that has lacked anything written, not even an alphabet!

Their letter described something I always find intriguing, and important.

My friends were translating a verse from Matthew:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19 (ESV)

"Break in" is the English translation of the Greek word, diorysso, meaning to penetrate burglariously, from a word meaning to burrow in the ground or dig.

One of my greatest passions is words, and how words develop, and the literal objects at the root of words for abstract concepts.

My friends live among a people-group who understand clearly what this verse describes:

"In the hot season, people sleep outside and lock the door of their house. Thieves go around behind and dig a hole in the earthbrick wall big enough for someone to pass through. They take all they can pass through the hole. When the residents open the house the next morning, their goods are gone."

"Treasures on earth" means all the things that we own that we consider valuable, things that others might also desire. Jesus told this story to remind us that making things to be our treasure will only result in disappointment and loss. Jesus urges us to make heaven, the presence of God, our greatest Treasure, and we will never suffer disappointment or loss.

Thieves, or time, will steal or destroy anything on earth that we might treasure. But if we treasure most our enjoyment of God and all that He is, nothing can take away our source of happiness and security!

Image provided by Odense Bys Museer,, Creative Commons License