Treasures in Heaven
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24
In America, we are the world champions of storing up stuff. We are an accumulation nation. We love stuff. Jesus calls out the madness of excessive accumulation in verse 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” All those things we think we can’t live without won’t last. If accumulation is your goal, you have already earned your reward: stuff.
On the other hand, there is an eternal reward. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Eternity has already begun; we are in it now. “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:4. The more you treasure Christ in this life, the more He will be your treasure for eternity.
Then, Jesus moves from materialism to the heart of the issue in verse 21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Money has the ability to expose where our hearts are. What you value most is what makes you feel valuable. Money can give us a false sense of our own significance. This often translates into an attitude of superiority. Money can also give us a false sense of security. This can translate into a sense of control. To some degree, both of these effects are realistic, but life is so fragile. In a moment, you can lose your life. At that same moment, you lose all your stuff. None of it goes with you.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” The word used here for “healthy” translates back to “generous.” It is used this way several times in the Bible including James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” The way we see moves us to generosity or greed. We often suffer from spiritual nearsightedness as we get caught up in the day-to-day. The reality is an eternity that has already begun.
Some indicators that we are suffering from spiritual nearsightedness:
- Discontentment – This keeps us consuming. We keep thinking that the next best thing will make us happy, so we buy it. But it never does. Contentment is not contingent on stuff. It is a condition of our souls that can only be achieved by allowing God to work in us.
- Debt – We pay to be chained down, and we can no longer be available to what God calls us to.
- Disconnectedness – We are unaware, usually by choice, of the needs of others, instead focusing on ourselves. “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Everyone is devoted to someone or something above all else. When your hands are clenched so tightly on your own priorities, you cannot open them to receive what God has for you. God is the only master you can serve and be freer for it. All the other masters in our lives (money, status, lust, achievements, approval, addiction) will demand more and more from you. They will never love you back. They will devour you and then move on to someone else.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9. In God’s economy, treasure is that which transcends earthly existence. There is only one thing that meets that requirement: people. They are the only thing that will outlive this earth. So the primary way we store up treasures is by stewarding our resources in such a way that we are able to bless others and meet their needs.
- Give cheerfully and generously to your local church.
- Seek to serve those in need.
The measure of treasure is not what you store up but what you give away.