I’d Rather Have Jesus

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21-22).

My Dad’s favorite hymn was I’d Rather Have Jesus.  People that knew Buster can attest to that. He didn’t just like the lyrics, my dad lived the lyrics.  Buster lived through the Great Depression as a teenager only completing the third grade.  Yet he taught himself to read and attended college.  One morning as a teen, Buster rode on a hay-filled flat bed truck with several others to church.  At the service he accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

My dad spent many years as a pastor and lay worker.  In the last twenty years of his service he worked with children and their families in a bus ministry in Cleveland, Tennessee.  He never forgot how someone took him to church on the back of a truck, a crude church bus.  In the mid-1970s a 5-year girl my father ministered too was brutally murdered by her stepfather [I will call her Anna for privacy].  Anna had “wet” the bed and for punishment her stepfather made her walk around the kitchen table for hours, occasionally making her drink Tabasco sauce.  Just the Sunday before my father had taken her to church and fed her.  He loved all the children he worked with.  The late Frank Reynolds, ABC Evening News, did a story “Someone Cared for Anna.”  Mr. Reynolds told a national news audience about Anna and her horrid death.  Mr. Reynolds went on to say people might think no one cared about Anna but then said “but someone did.”  He then told about my dad and interviewed him.  Mr. Reynolds asked, “Why did you care about Anna?” My dad told him that he loved Anna, and all children, because Christ first loved him and that serving God was his treasure.  My dad went on to say that he would rather see the smile on one child than to have gold or to be president of the United States; that he’d rather have Jesus than anything.  Only the ages will reveal how much treasure my father laid up in Heaven but there is no doubt where his heart was.

In 1 Corinthians 3: 11-12 we are told: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. God has not said his children should not have riches. Proverbs. 8:17 and 18 tell us: I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. However, in God are real riches, those we should treasure. Proverbs 8 further tells us in verses 19 through 21: My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. Proverbs 15:6 says: In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. Verse 16 in the same chapter adds: Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Sadly, many people pursue the wrong treasures.  Jesus told a parable in Luke 12 about seeking the abundance of life.  Starting in verse 15 through 22, And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Oh the rewards of serving God!  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).

Our lives will be defined by what we treasure.  God spoke in Luke 6:45: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Our treasures will also define our eternity.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Col. 1:21).  For those that have not trusted in Christ but put their hope in earthly treasure: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb 9:27).  Then thy soul shall be required of thee (Luke 12:20).

Rhea Miller wrote the lyrics to I’d Rather Have Jesus in 1922.  The poem was given to George Beverly Shea who wrote the music after being moved by the words.  Mr. Shea was in a struggle of pursuing his own ambitions (to be a great commercial singer) versus serving God.  Even after writing the music it still took some time for Mr. Shea to dedicate his life to Christ’s service.  Still alive at 101 Mr. Shea has earned earthly riches but only God knows the treasures laid in Heaven.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

What is your treasure?  Where is your treasure?

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2 Responses to I’d Rather Have Jesus

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday Mr. Shea | Hymns in My Heart

  2. Pingback: George Beverly Shea, In Memory | Hymns in My Heart

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