Written by Sam Naumann
“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.” – Matthew 6:19-21
Smoke and ash filled the Lewis Clark Valley this past month to such an extent that the sun was not clearly visible for several days. Sadly, this was not a unique event for the area or for many areas on the Western edge of the lower 48. Wildfires raging in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and other states have devastated many people’s homes and properties. In many cases these fires have left nothing but burned out shells or simply slabs of concrete where treasured memories had been made. Seeing the devastation these fires create is a stark reminder of how temporary all of our possessions really are and of Jesus words from the sermon on the mount, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;” (Matthew 6:19).
Insurance companies will replace anything that can be replaced and was also insured and documented, but many things cannot be duplicated. Old photographs that only existed in print, handwritten letters from loved ones, and most importantly human life cannot be replaced. Losing these types of mementoes or even harder human life can be heart-breaking, but one day even the replaceable possessions we have will be lost to us. One day we will each lose all of our earthly possessions and we will find out what lasting treasures we have. Jesus continued in verse twenty, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
We cannot of course lay up our earthly treasures in heaven. There is no 401k that you begin withdrawing from in heaven. Rather, the heavenly treasures we lay up are an order of magnitude greater than the earthly treasures we’ve been blessed with. We lay up heavenly treasures when we focus on Christ and all that He has done for us. We lay up heavenly treasures when, out of faith, we act and think as Christ has called to live in the roles He has given us. In short heavenly treasures are all that is done by the new man, who is both in and for Christ. These heavenly treasures cannot be stolen by thieves or burned up by fire for the treasures are not here on earth, but in our Father’s eyes in heaven. He sees and is pleased by the heavenly treasures you produce for they come from Him, (Phillipians 2:11-12) and they are outward evidence of your faith and trust in Him.
Jesus concludes “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).
Jesus by all means knew that we cannot earn heaven, thus His humiliation and redeeming work. But Jesus also knew that the attitude of the heart is revealed by where we put our treasures. If the most important things to us have to do with temporary earthly things then our hearts cannot follow Him. However if the most important things to us have to do with our eternal life,which He earned for us, then our hearts must follow Him. As Martin Franzmann stated concerning these verses “It is ultimately not a question of how much a man seeks to have… but of how deeply a man is concerned about having.” Or to say it another way, “would you rather have heaven or earth?” Are our deepest desires and most dear treasures what God has given us or are they what we can earn and gain here on earth? The temptation to desire the temporary treasures of the world is great, but we have a greater Savior who gives us the strength to desire those lasting treasures that only come from Him.
Lamb of God, we fall before Thee,
Humbly trusting in Thy Cross.
That alone be all our glory;
All things else are only dross.
TLH hymn 358 v.1