Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6:19–21)

Today we look at a passage that I think is particularly relevant for the modern day American. We live in a day and time where we have access to all kinds of things, possessions, treasures. Not only are we able to see all kinds of treasures around us but we have been told our whole lives that all of the treasures we see can be ours if we work hard enough to get them. Isn’t that right? Go and get an education, learn a trade, build a business, do your best and there are no limits to your success and what you can have in this land of opportunity.

Certainly in all ages there have been nice things or treasures that people wanted but what is unique for us in this time of history is that there is a sense in which we really can attain a lot of nice treasures.

In the middle ages, no slave believed they could rise to the level of prosperity of their masters. In India, you could not rise above the class to which you were born. People may have wanted nice things but really, they knew they were stuck where they were economically.

But now, a lot of the barriers for economic success have been toppled and we are free to pursue all kinds of work and wealth that can lead to all kinds of so called success. If riches is your goal, you may achieve to a place of wealth.

And you know if that is your driving aim in life, you may not really have to work very hard to get it. There are some who achieve riches through frivolous lawsuits, or simply by marrying a rich person, or by stealing or selling illegal things like drugs. I’m certainly not condoning any of these things but these are some ways people get rich without having to work very hard and if that is the goal over all other things, some are more than happy to take these paths.

So many people who want riches end up, though, in terrible places. 1 Timothy 6:10 says this:

10 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. (1 Ti 6:10)

It is a dangerous thing to love money. And this is not just a warning for the rich. It is warning fo the rich, poor and everyone in the middle. Some people love money they don’t have in that they crave it, they long for riches, they dream about it. Others love money that they do have, they do all they can to keep it, to preserve it to get even more of it.

I hear many say, well I don’t love money, money is not big deal to me but at the same time these same people want everything they can get their hands on from certain foods to expensive dress to fancy cars nice vacations, and entertainment of all kinds. The truth is it may not be money we love but we may really love what money buys!

What do you treasure? That is the question and that is what Jesus is leading us to think about.

God never ties New Testament Christian service to financial compensation. God does tie it, however to future reward in heaven.

But, I’m telling your we get messed up in our thinking, we see people prosper even Christians prosper financially and we think, wow, they are blessed by God. It is easy for us to see financial prosperity and think it is somewhat a spiritual blessing. We may see the poor Christian and think, what is wrong with them!

I think even Jesus disciples struggled with this. Remember when Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler? Let me read that to you and I want us to see how Peter responds.

Matthew 19

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.(Mt 19:16–30)

When Peter asked,

“See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?"

I think Peter was wondering about compensation, treasures, money in this life. He was saying we have given all, what then will we get now. And Jesus, of course, redirects his thinking away from earthly things to heavenly things and the glory of heavenly reward.

At least one of the disciples was clearly obsessed with earthly riches. This was of course Judas, their treasurer, the one who handled their money. Judas greed was a significant factor in betraying Jesus. In Matthew 26 verse 15 Judas asked the priests,

“What will you give me if I had Him over to you“

Greed is a terrible thing. Jesus in our passage is saying, stop collecting treasures for yourself on earth.

This does not mean we should all quit our jobs so that we don’t have any treasure only that we do not hold on to it tightly, don’t obsess over getting more and don’t think it is somehow greater than our heavenly rewards.

There are so many passages in the Bible that exhort us to look out for others, to put others first, to supply what others are lacking, but I’m wondering if we make the connection between these commands and money or earthly treasures.

Or do we compartmentalize wealth, earthly treasure and not include money with looking out for the good of others. For example:

“This is the example that Jesus himself gave us:

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26 – 28).

As Christians, we are to be in this world not for what we can get out of it but for what we can give. We are to serve, not dominate.”

How does this relate to money? Well, it may take our money to serve others. It may be that to serve some people it will mean either simply giving them our money or forgoing the ability to earn a lot of money because we are spending our time in service to them.

“Paul also teaches this, basing his exhortation on the example of Christ:

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself . . .” (Rom. 15:1 – 3).

Same thing…bearing with others will often have a financial component to it. So what do we love, serving others bearing with them or hanging on to our money?

He then expounds this further in Philippians 2:3 – 4, stating,

“In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

And in 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul states

“let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

As we can see, putting others first is not simply an outworking of the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is even more fundamentally rooted in the gospel itself. We are to seek the interests of others first precisely because this is how Christ loved us.”

Excerpt From: Matthew Aaron Perman. “What's Best Next.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/whats-best-next/id586310528?mt=11

I think we have to make the connection between loving others, looking out for the interest of others, considering others as more important than ourselves and not being driven to store up treasures here on this earth. What do we spend our time on and what do we spend our money on? This is someone to consider.

Jesus also points out that treasures on this earth are temporary. They rust, decay, and can be stolen. One of the richest people that I have ever been close too was always concerned that someone was out to get their money. Things can be taken by other people.

Houses deteriorate, cars break down, money burns, companies go out of business, lawsuits happen. Whatever we have today can be gone tomorrow. If our joy is dependent on what we have then beware, your joy may disappear quickly.

Luke 12:18 speaks of the fleeting properties of treasures but in this case, it is the one who owns the treasures who is fleeting.

15Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Lk 12:15–21)

What are you building? What are you amassing? Will you even be here to enjoy those things? Maybe not!

There is only one way to ensure that your treasures will last. Here is what Jesus said:

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

This is about collecting heavenly rewards through righteous deeds. In Matt. 6 Jesus talks about rewards in verses 4, 6 and 18.

Verse 4 is about giving in secret and Jesus said;

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:4)

Verse 6 was about praying in secret and Jesus said,

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:6)

And verse 18 was about fasting in secret and Jesus said,

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:18)

There is an obvious pattern here. Don’t practice your righteousness to be seen by others, to be praised by others do then unto the Lord in secret and there is reward. Reward that won’t rust or be eaten up or stolen.

Have you ever done something that you thought was righteous and no one noticed and so you just have this feeling that, well that was a waste of time? Righteous deeds are never a waste of time. God sees all, and God is the rewarder of righteous deeds and His rewards cannot be destroyed.

Truly righteous deeds will be rewarded.

And finally, the warning and very sobering truth.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6:21)

Treasure is what one values most and what we have chosen to invest our lives in. A person's treasure shows where a person's heart really is. The heart in the scripture is the center of pesos thoughts and desires and actions. Jesus taught that the heart is what ultimately determines and drives a person's behavior.

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Mt 15:18–19)

Our hearts should belong to God, God is most interested in our hearts. And so the thrust of the teaching is that either we love earthly treasure most or we love God most. The former is idolatry. Do we love possessions, earthly possessions or are we devoted and do we love God more?

Jesus drives this thought home even more, in a stronger way down in verse 24:

24 “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. (Mt 6:24)

Now, let’s be honest. This is tough, there are so many things that grab our attention, things that sparkle and shine and can draw us in at times. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we don’t love the things of the world when we really do. Men, we can justify crazy work weeks, voluntarily work long, long hours for riches and say, it is not the riches that we love. I can;t say either way for you but be honest with yourself. Another test is this. What if you lose it all, how do you think you will handle that? Will it kill you, will it drive you to depression? Or will you be about to say…the lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord?

Time here is short, eternity is, well, eternity. Are we living for the Lord, doing righteous deeds for our fellow man or are we wasting our time trying to get it all for ourselves?

There was a man who lived long ago, you may know of him, his name was William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a godly man who was known for his willingness to work with great effort for moral justice. His most well known achievement was that he nearly single handedly made slavery illegal in the United Kingdom. He grieved over the atrocities of slavery in his day and he set out, with the strength of Christ to put an end to it, This is what he was most known for in history.

It did not matter to him who opposed him or they may say, he set out to do what was right, pleasing to Christ and good for society, this is one way he lived out the command to love his neighbor.

Wilberforce wrote one book during his energetic and productive life. You would think that this book might be on how to get things done or how to change the world or how to love your neighbor. But it wasn’t on any of those topics. Instead he wrote a theological book on justification by faith.

Now stay with me as I plan to show you where I am going with this. You see, Wilberforce believed that Christianity was, rather than a lot of rules to follow or commands to obey, that Christianity was first something that was done for us. Christianity was a gift more than a creed to live by. What he meant was Christianity was primarily about Jesus Christ and what Jesus had done to free people from bondage and to give them a way to God into eternal life.

Christianity was primarily about God and Chris and they gracious provision for us. And he believed that if we really grasp this, if we really grasp was justification really is, God giving us eternal life, life with God in Christ both now and forever if we really grasp what we now have that our struggle to lay up treasures in heaven will not be a strained effort but a joyful calling.

That our primary pursuit won’t be all about how can I stop loving the world but will be what is the next way I can serve my Lord by serving other people.

That the knowledge of justification by faith with drive us to serve Christ which his primary shown in our we serve other people. And so, this idea of laying up treasure in heaven becomes not just a good cause but a joy and a life of saying, I love Christ, and I want to serve Him and I want to serve others as he has commanded and I want to lay up treasures in heaven and we go about proactively finding ways to do just that.

We can begin to see the great reality an the joy of putting others needs ahead of our own! This is how we serve Christ.

YOu may say, I’m not there. If not, then ask God to change your heart, read of His provision for you in the Word, flood your mind with what it means that he has loved you and then go out and serve him by serving others in His name. The scripture says, be zealous for good works.

If we have this whole treasure thing backwards, then perhaps that is how we have trained ourselves to think. What do you treasure? Who do you Love? What has Jesus done for you and what will your response be to Him?

Consider your life, consider your walk. Whom will you serve?

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6:19–21)

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