“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)
When we study the Bible just a few verses at a time its often a good idea to stop and remind ourselves of the context. Otherwise, we will miss the understanding of the passage we are reading.
Over the past week or so Jesus has been teaching us not to seek the praise of men when we give, pray, or fast. When we do things for the purpose of impressing other human beings their accolades are the only reward we will receive. This is sad because such a reward is temporary. Human beings have a “what have you done for me lately” attitude – any praise we receive from them is quickly forgotten and needs to be re-earned.
This brings us to today’s passage in which Jesus expands on this concept of temporary gain versus eternal gain by talking about material possessions. It should be noted that Jesus is not advocating self-induced poverty. The Bible frequently recognizes one’s right to material wealth that is honestly acquired. He also commands us to enjoy these blessings [1 Timothy 6:17].
However, when we hoard (lay up) treasures on earth for ourselves we are demonstrating selfishness as well as a lack of trust in God to take of us in the future. These type of treasures are at risk of being stolen or devalued. For example, money loses its purchasing power over time; a home can lose its value due to economic conditions. Note that saving money is not a sin. God does tell us to be wise and save for our future [Proverbs 6:6-8]. As with everything Jesus has been talking about in the Sermon on the Mount, our intentions determine whether we are being obedient or whether our actions are sin.
Instead of hoarding, God commands us to use our time and possessions (including our money) to serve others, primarily in teaching them about Jesus. This includes getting the word about Jesus to those who don’t know it as well as increasing the knowledge of others who do know about Him already. When we do this, God stores treasures in heaven for us. Treasures in heaven cannot be stolen. They do not lose value. They will be waiting for us when we get there.
As Jesus notes, that which we treasure most reveals our character (where your treasure is, there your heart will be also). Do we cherish granite countertops, new golf clubs, and vacations in Hawaii? Or do we cherish the wisdom of God and the salvation of our friends, family, coworkers, and enemies? If you want to know what matters to someone, take a look at how they spend their earthly treasures – their time and money.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.