Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:19-21 “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.”
What are treasures? A treasure is typically a collection of valuable things such as money or jewels or other possessions. It can by anything greatly valued. You probably have heard of buried treasure that someone in the past buried to hide and protect, hoping to return in the future and reclaim the treasure. Earthly treasures might be money or clothes or houses or cars or toys or trophies or accomplishments. It can be anything of this world that you greatly value and spend your time and energy to obtain. People seek to have treasures or be rich in many ways. Maybe they gamble at a casino in hopes of winning the big jackpot. Or maybe they work two jobs to get ahead and so that they will be able to afford the riches and luxuries they desire. Or maybe they start a business that they think will earn a lot of money. There are lots of ways that people have invented to be able to lay up treasures.
Anyone can be guilty of laying up treasures on earth. The poor can only lay up small treasures, but the rich can lay up great treasures. It is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:23-24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” But it is not wrong to be rich. The apostle Paul gave instruction to Timothy for the rich Christians. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
There are several problems with laying up treasures on earth. First, treasures may initially have great value but soon lose their value. Jesus said that moth and rust will destroy your treasure. Age, rust, insects, or a bad economy can take away the value. Jesus also said that thieves break in and steal. If you have treasures, someone will try to figure out a way to take them from you. Maybe they will steal from you or rob you or fraudulently trick you into giving them up. Next, you may be proud because of your possessions. You have what others do not have so you take pride that you are special. Next, you will be tempted to trust in your riches; when problems come your way, you have your riches to pay for your way out of trouble. But trusting in your treasures means that you don’t trust in God. 1 Timothy 6:17 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
Another serious problem with treasures or riches is that you cannot serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is understood to be riches. Riches cannot be your god and your Father in Heaven also be your God. People try to serve both but they cannot. The love of money results in ungodly behavior. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Life is short and you cannot take your earthly treasures with you. Luke 12:16-21 “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” 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?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’”
Instead of laying up treasures on earth, Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven. Salvation is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). Eternal life is also a gift from God (Romans 6:23). But Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven. Just as certain actions that you take result in laying up treasures on the earth, other actions you take must also lay up treasures in heaven. A rich young man came to Jesus. Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” From this I understand that giving to the poor results in treasure in heaven. I do not know what the treasures are that one can lay up in heaven. We can trust God that they will be true treasures. Rather than using your time and energy and resources to lay up treasures here on earth, use your time and energy and resources in serving God and your fellow man to lay up treasures in heaven and to be rich toward God.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. When you treasure the things of this earth, that is what you will talk about; that is where you will spend your time; that is where you give your attention because that is what you love. When you treasure the things in heaven, that is what you will talk about; that is where you will spend your time; that is where you give your attention because God is who you love. My encouragement to you is to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven and have your heart on things in heaven.