In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says “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.”
Treasure is linked to the heart. What does our heart long for? Does it treasure the things of this world like money, fame, possessions, security, success, power and influence? Or is our heart longing for Jesus to be the greatest treasure in our life, both now and for eternity?
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What Is Our Treasure?
After speaking of earthly and heavenly treasure, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Our hearts will be mastered by one or the other. Not both.
This is seen in the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to know what he had to do to get eternal life. He had kept the commandments but wanted to know what he lacked. Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The response of the young man was sadness because of all the wealth that he had, so he walked away from Jesus. Jesus then said to His disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23).
He also told a parable about the Word of God being like seed scattered on different soil. Jesus said that when the seed falls among thorns, it is like “those who hear [the Word], but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14). The riches of this life and the cares of this world can hinder maturity in the faith as people become preoccupied by earthly concerns and treasures rather than God and His Word.
It is not necessarily wrong to have money, but we need to know the dangers of what it can do to us. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
We are storing up treasures on earth if the object of our affection is centered on ourselves and what we can accumulate. It can result in our ruin as well as falling away from faith. Yet, if our greatest treasure is Jesus, we will desire to put our time, money, resources and talent on pursuits that glorify Him and we will store up treasures in the kingdom of heaven.
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6 Ways We Can Store Up Treasure in Heaven
1. We Need a New Heart
To desire the things of heaven, we need a transformed heart that values Jesus more than an abundance of wealth and possessions. The heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). We were born into sin and cannot love or seek after God of our own accord due to our hardened heart (Romans 3:11). It is the Father who draws us to Himself (John 6:44) and we need to be born again to be able to see God’s kingdom (John 3:3).
Our desires need to change away from earthly things and into eternal, everlasting, never-perishing treasure. In Colossians 3:2 it says, “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” As we look to Christ and trust in the Holy Spirit for our transformation, we will desire the things that are of His kingdom for His glory, rather than for ourselves on earth.
2. Help the Poor and Those in Need
Like the early church that sold their possessions and distributed to those in need (Acts 2:45), we can look to the needs of others around us. Jesus told a story in the parable of the banquet about inviting “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to a feast and said that “you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (Luke 14:13-14). The Lord sees what we do for Him and we will be repaid “at the resurrection of the just” (verse 14).
Although we might not see any reward on earth for helping those in need, we know that we are advancing the heavenly kingdom and giving God the glory, which is of more worth than having an abundance of treasure on earth.
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3. Take Risks That Will Honor God
When we are not tied up with fear and anxiety over money and the values of this world are no longer ours, we can live in abandonment to God’s will with open hands. When we live for and serve a King who will always be enthroned, and for a kingdom that will never end, we can take risks which may cost us on earth. This may look like suffering and persecution. It could mean we make choices which seem alien or challenging to those around us. But we know that we can trust God’s plans and purposes in all things.
An example of someone that took a risk was the widow in Mark 12:41-44 who gave all that she had out of her poverty. This was in stark contrast to the rich who were putting in large amounts out of the abundance of their wealth. Jesus said to His disciples that the widow had put more in the temple treasury than everyone else because she gave all she had to live on. Her heart was not wrapped up in any earthly treasure, but instead she entrusted it all to God.
If we fully surrender all we have to God rather than chasing earthly pursuits, we will be able to take greater risks for the kingdom of God as our heart, and therefore our treasure, is with Him.
4. Live a Simple Life
Choose to live simply and not try to attain the life that others around us might be living. The allure of “making it” in life keeps our eyes focused on earthly treasures and pursuits. People may strive for bigger, better and more in any number of ways. Yet, chasing after success for ourselves and trying to keep up with everyone else will eventually leave us feeling empty, exhausted and discontented.
Our identity cannot be based on anything or anyone on earth. Jesus said that we should watch out, be on guard against all kinds of greed and that life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15 NIV). We need to hold everything loosely in this life as we fix our gaze on the eternal.
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5. Seek the Kingdom of God First
Pursue Jesus above all things and surrender everything to Him. Be rich toward Him in every area of life, from the money we spend, the words we say, our interactions with others and in all that we do. For all that Christ has done for us we should treasure Him and His kingdom purposes first. He knows all that we need so we can seek the kingdom and His righteousness, knowing that everything we need will be added (Matthew 6:33). Having a heavenly mindset will free us from the values found on earth and keep our heart and mind on Christ and eternity.
6. Trust the Promises of God and Do Not Be Anxious
After Jesus talks of storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, He tells His listeners not to worry about life, what to eat and drink, or the body and what to wear (Matthew 6:25). We cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying (Matthew 6:27), yet how many of us worry about our life? Jesus frees us from the false sense of security that money and possessions have on us. It is God who knows what we need and He will take care of us when we trust Him.
It is a radical way to live, yet Jesus lived this kind of life in full obedience to the Father. His priority was always to do His Father’s will and we can trust Him to help us as we seek to live an obedient, holy life for the glory of God. He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us on earth. We can live a life where worry does not hold us captive. Regardless of our circumstances, when we follow Jesus we can be confident knowing that all our needs are met in Him.
A final thought for those of us who do acquire wealth is to heed the words of the Apostle Paul. He said to those who are rich “not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). That which is truly life is found in Christ alone who gives everlasting life (1 John 5:11). No matter how we have approached money and earthly treasure in the past, it is never too late to think differently and to pursue Christ above all.
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