“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
This admonition comes in the midst of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He is warning those who would seek safety outside of the Kingdom of God. What is it that we treasure in life? Treasures on earth vary because people treasure many different things. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. What we really treasure is found in the lengths we go to in order to protect what it is we treasure. It may be material things, a reputation, a relationship, or even a person. Those in Christ realize that we ought to treasure God and His Kingdom more than anything else. This is where we find satisfaction and fulfillment.
We lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven because nothing can cause harm to such treasure. It transcends the temporal. It is rewarding for today and eternity. It is a sure thing – an investment that cannot be lost. Jesus goes on to say that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. The heart is the will. It orients are lives. When our will is in line with God’s will, we experience spiritual health and wholeness. That is true treasure. Note a two-fold progression in these verses:
First, the admonition before us tells us what not to lay up and what to lay up…
1. The Admonition for Those Inside the Kingdom of God
We really like to keep safe that which is important to us – treasuring up treasures as the Greek communicates. Jesus plainly states that we must not treasure earthly things. Obviously, He is not talking about providing for family or even purchasing items to make our temporal lives comfortable. We work for money and for the ability to bring blessing to others. There’s no problem with this. The difference is that we don’t find ultimate delight in these things. It is not our security or safety – not for ourselves as Jesus teaches.
Instead, we lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. Here is one area in which we are encouraged to press for more when it comes to self. All that we lay up in Heaven, we shall enjoy forever. We should enjoy it now as well as later. Eternal life is something to be lived today, ten thousand years from now, and forevermore. The Kingdom of God in this sense is already and not yet. We eagerly await its literal millennial presentation while observing its flourishing growth even today. This is why this sermon applies to us today. Great joy comes today when we lay up for tomorrow.
Second, the admonition before us gives reason for carrying it out…
2. The Affection of Those Inside the Kingdom of God
Simply put, rightly placed affection is enduring. All earthly treasure is corruptible. We never know when it shall all be taken away (moths and rust). Heavenly treasure is incorruptible and shall never be taken away. It is eternal in nature. Even our physical lives are but vapor. That is why we turn to the eternal even as we live out the physical.
Our affections turn to Jesus Christ because He is the King without rival of the Kingdom of God. Or is He? We love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Or do we? Set your affections on things above …on Christ the King. Why do we stay anchored to the earth?
Therefore, we must ask ourselves if we are willing to lay up treasure for the eternal when it seems the whole world would deem this foolishness. “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” We shall not lag in diligence here on earth. We must be ever fervent in spirit; but we serve the Lord at all times and for all time (Rom 12.11). We strive in the here and now not for the source of our happiness. If this were the case, then here and now would be all we would ever have – that is miserable and pitiable.
Many of us would grow quite discouraged if earthly treasure was the measure of things. We have very little. But the Kingdom of God places all men on an equal footing. None rises above the other. There are not ‘Haves’ because everyone is a ‘Have Not’. We all are needy; therefore, Christ is the answer. The Kingdom of God is the center from which all of our desire and life flows. It brings direction for our lives right now. It will alter our character for eternity.