A Guide To Treasure Hunting for Christians

Somewhere Forrest Fenn has hidden a treasure chest worth $2 million. Roughly seven years later, the treasure remains unfound and the man who hid it is still refusing to reveal where it is, only giving a few clues, mostly through a few lines of poetry found in his memoir The Thrill of the Chase. When it was revealed what Fenn had done, treasure hunters took to the Rocky Mountains in search of it. Fenn offered its contents to whoever found the chest. Truly this was a game of finders keepers.
Years later people are still searching for the treasure (you can read an interesting story of one pair who recently sought it out while also learning the background of Forrest Fenn and his treasure chest by clicking here). Thousands of people have spent thousands of dollars in search of the treasure. Unsolved, the quest remains for those treasure seekers who will certainly continue the interest until it is found, if the treasure is found.
Sometimes we watch, hear, or read stories of treasure hunters like Zachary Crockett and Estelle Caswell and we laugh. Despite that laughter, almost all of us are intrigued by the stories and want to know more. As Christians we consider treasure hunting foolishness and quickly condemn it. However, the Lord Jesus Christ sanctions treasure hunting, saying “. . collect for yourselves treasures . . .”
Is it OK then for Christians to search for riches then? Absolutely. The conviction to to do so is found within the confines of Scripture. However, Christ does not assent to just any type of treasure hunting, but rather he gives some limitations. Consider the whole verse in context:
“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21
The stipulation in these verses is made very clear: The treasure that we are to seek is an eternal treasure that is not found on earth, but in heaven. We also find piece of wisdom tucked inside as Christ notes that the heart follows the source of one’s treasure. Thus an eternal treasure yields a heavenly-oriented heart and an earthly-oriented church yields an earthly-oriented heart. Ultimately, what comes out of the heart will come out of your life, thus the orientation of one’s heart will orient your life.
Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what are the heavenly treasures that we should be seeking? If treasure hunting is sanctioned by our Lord, what types of treasures is he calling upon us to seek? While we could extend this to include a wide variety of subjects (i.e. God saw that His creation was good, Genesis 1, and therefore we should treasure God’s creation also) however, there are some primary areas that we should focus on and by focusing on those particular areas our entire lives will be oriented towards an earthly treasure. Therefore, there are three areas to focus on:
  1. God’s Wisdom & Knowledge (Colossians 2:3): The Bible speaks highly of knowledge and wisdom when it is rightly sought and used. Both the Old and New Testaments draw upon this idea (see Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and James as some examples). In Proverbs we find that right knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Where do we find this wisdom? Embodied in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Even more, Paul writes to the Colossians and tells them that all treasures of knowledge and wisdom are found in Christ (Colossians 2:3).
  2. God’s Word (Psalm 119:11): The longest chapter in the longest book of the Bible is an exaltation of the Word of God. That alone conveys its importance, but the Psalmist writes, “I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.” The very fact that the Psalmist finds it important to treasure the Word of God indicates that it is something to be treasured by the Christian as well. But what is the Word? First, we know that the Bible consists of God’s very word (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:1-4). However, we also learn from Scripture that Jesus Christ is revered as the Word of God (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13) and thus we find our treasure of the Word in Him.
  3. God’s Glory and God’s Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:7): Paul writes of treasures in Jars of clay in 2 Corinthians 4:7. These words are a bit confusing, but context indicates that the treasure is the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ who is the image of God (verse 4) while the jars of clay are a reference to the weak human bodies (verse 10). Paul’s description of the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ as treasure indicates something of great value to be cherished, preserved, and shared.
What we learn from Scripture then is the need to seek our heavenly treasure through God’s wisdom, God’s Word, God’s glory, and God’s gospel. These are items worthy to be treasured in our lives.
Each of these things though has something fascinating in common. Their true value is found in Christ. Thus, wisdom and knowledge are nothing except when they are actualized through the Lord Jesus Christ. The same can be said of God’s Word, which is embodied in Christ or God’s glory and gospel which fixate upon Christ as well. So what is this heavenly treasure that we seek? Life fixated upon Jesus Christ.
Indeed the world is full of treasure hunters. Not all of them are in search of a $2 million treasure chest, but all are in search of the ‘good’ life, which may be physical riches or could refer to personal security, a life without cares, or however a person defines it. Christians should also be treasure hunters, but our treasure is defined as something different and more specific. The treasure we seek is an eternal orientation and exaltation of Christ.

Photo “Goonies Treasure Map” courtesy of user Scott Howard and Flickr.