19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
You have heard the common adage that Jesus taught more on wealth than any other social issue, right? If not–there you go–its true, Jesus has a lot to say about money. However, it is interesting to note that in these verses, Jesus does not warn against laying up treasure. Instead Jesus warns against laying up a certain kind of treasure. Jesus doesn’t categorically condemn storing up treasure altogether. Jesus warns against laying up treasures on earth, i.e. treasures that will not last beyond this earthly existence.
This is not a categorical “ban on savings or financial planning or ownership of property” (Daniel Doriani, The Sermon on the Mount, 156; c.f. Gen. 41, Prov. 6:6-10; 2 Cor. 12:14). Work is part of God’s ordering of creation (Gen. 1:28-29, 2:15) and Paul even tells the Thessalonians, “if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Th. 3:10).
It should also be noted that Jesus’ warning is specifically do not lay up treasures “for yourselves.” In other words this is a warning against selfishness. The treasures we are to lay up are treasures that last. Treasures invested invested in the kingdom of God and the people of the kingdom!
This is nothing less than a radical reorienting of our priorities and our work. Jesus doesn’t denounce storing up treasure. Oh how the Lord loves when his Children store up treasure in heaven! That is why the prayer of the disciple is “your kingdom come!” This teaching here in Matthew 6:19-21 isn’t really all that different from the Lord’s prayer–it is another reminder that as those who have been brought into the Kingdom of God through Christ, we now live for Christ’s kingdom and not our own!
But how do we go about storing up treasures in heaven? Here are a few suggestions:
- Invest in the members of the Kingdom of God. In other words disciple other believers. i.e. Pour yourself into other believers, pray for them, encourage them, invite them into your life to observe the way that you serve the Lord day in and day out. Let them observe your successes and failures, and how you respond failures. Let them hear you confess sin and turn from it. We store up treasure in heaven when we disciple other believers. Discipleship is an eternal investment.
- Invite those outside the kingdom into the kingdom. In other words, share the gospel. Develop relationships with the lost people around. Talk to your neighbor, go get lunch once a week at the same place and get to know the people who work there. If you like to play soccer, join a recreational soccer league and seek to develop relationships for the gospel with your teammates. Tell these people about Jesus and share the gospel with them.
- Give those rusty, moth-eaten treasures away! Any of those treasure you have that will not last for eternity, be willing to give them up so that you might have true, lasting, satisfying treasures in heaven! In other words give money, resources, shelter for the spreading of the gospel and for the good of other believers.
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).