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
In 2008, the world experienced a sudden and (to some) an unexpected recession. Look at some of the headlines from the days immediately following:
“Dow Jones Industrials Lost 18 Percent in Their Worst Week Ever”
“European Asian Stocks Plunge amid Global Fears”
“Stock Markets in Latin America Plunge Again”
The Bible is Relevant for Today’s Society
In such times, people ignorantly say things like, “The Bible is irrelevant to modern life. It doesn’t speak to what we’re going through.” But anybody who says that hasn’t read the Bible or doesn’t understand it. In His sermon, Jesus had begun dealing with various practical issues, addressing first hypocrisy and then prayer; now, He moved to the topic of finance. What He said is absolutely relevant to the things going on in society today.
Most people put their confidence in money, but the Bible makes it clear that riches are uncertain at best. Jesus, in teaching the believer how to live for Him, said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (6:19).
The Kingdom of God
Riches and possessions are not evil in and of themselves. Jesus was not forbidding His people to own property or to have a savings account or make sensible provision for the future. He was not saying that a good Christian is to become dirt poor. Jesus was forbidding covetousness. He was rebuking the miser who hoards and the materialist who always wants more. Again, He was teaching us to put our emphasis in the right place: the kingdom of God.
Instead of laying up treasures on earth, Jesus told His listeners, and He tells us today, that His people are to lay up treasures in heaven (see 6:20). We do that in several ways. First, we can develop Christlike character to present to the Lord on that final day—a life that is submissive to Him, that glorifies Him, that is committed to becoming more like Him and more pleasing to Him. In developing godly character, we lay up treasure in heaven.
Evangelism and Discipleship
Second, we can endeavor through prayer and evangelism to lead others to Christ and help them grow to Christian maturity. Through evangelism and discipleship, we lay up treasure in heaven. One day, we will find that there are people in heaven because of the investment that we made in their lives here on earth.
Third, we can use our money for Christian causes. These are the only investments with eternal dividends. Any wealth we have is a blessing from God, and we are to use it for the things of the kingdom—the mission field, evangelistic outreaches, caring for others. The fruit that comes from this will be put to our account in heaven.
We need to remember that earthly wealth is going to pass away. Jesus said that treasure on earth could be destroyed by moth and rust and stolen by thieves (see 6:19). Heavenly treasure, on the other hand, is incorruptible (see 6:20). It cannot be stolen or destroyed, and it doesn’t lose its value.
Where Is Your True Treasure?
Here’s the thing: Jesus told us that wherever our treasure is, our heart will be there also (see 6:21). If our treasure is in heaven, our hearts are secure even if our finances fail. If our treasure is on earth and riches fail, our hearts plunge into despair. In the letter to the church of Laodicea, Jesus speaks to those who are laying up treasure on earth and tells them that although they see themselves as rich, increased with goods, and having need of nothing, they are actually wretched, miserable, poor, and naked. He then says to them: buy from Me gold that has been tried in the fire that you may be truly rich. According to Jesus, true riches are spiritual, not material.
Today, ask yourself: What captivates my heart? Therein lies your true treasure. If it’s anything other than Christ, you’re investing in the wrong place. Live your life for the will of God, the glory of God, the purpose of God, and you will store up treasures in heaven.