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. – Matthew 6:19-21
I want to stress once again what it means to be a steward. A steward was a person who served as a house manager; they had nothing of their own, but distributed what was under their care according their master’s will and direction. Now if we apply that to what we have learned so far, we could say that our time has been given to us by God, and therefore we should use it according to His will. We could also say that our abilities have been given to us by God, and therefore we should use them according to His will. We have seen that as far as our time goes, we may not have as much as we think, so it makes sense that we start using our time wisely now, whether that means becoming a Christian if you’re not or living in wholehearted devotion to Christ if you are. We have also seen that as a Christian, you have been given a gift that is needed in the church and for the church to complete the mission that Jesus gave it, so it makes sense that we start using our gifts now.
Today, we are going to wrap up our study by looking at our treasure. We have talked about how stewardship covers every area of our life, even though we typically think of money first. However, even when talking about our treasure, it is not all about money. Hopefully, we will understand what exactly what Jesus means when He talks about treasure and then how we can make the best use of what we have. But if there is anything that we can take away from this passage, it is this: Everything that we accumulate on this earth is going to pass away. So as good stewards of what God has given us, we should use what we have to impact eternity.
I. The Treasure We Gain on Earth is Temporary (19)
The first thing that we see in this passage and therefore the first thing we need to understand from this passage is that the treasures that can be laid up on this earth are temporary. Notice what Jesus says. We can buy the nicest, most expensive clothes, but they are just asking for moths to come in and destroy them. We can buy the nicest, most expensive cars, but they are going to rust. Whatever we get, it will deteriorate or eventually be destroyed. Well, what if we take the necessary measures to protect what we have from that which will mess it up? What if we buy mothballs for our closets and dressers? What if we build a garage and use a car cover? What if we do whatever it takes to keep it from deteriorating? Jesus has an answer for that as well. He says that thieves can steal it. Think about it. You keep a jewelry box full of jewelry that you maintain like they tell you to and keep it in mint condition. Well what good will it be if someone steals it. Or what if they break into your garage and steal your car that you take such good care of?
It may not be clothes, jewelry, or cars for you, but I hope you get the picture of what I am trying to say. What if you take great care of everything that you have and manage to keep it from being stolen by thieves until the day that you die? Have you succeeded? Yes! You have succeeded in leaving your spouse or children a bunch of stuff that they have to go through and deal with. What am I trying to say? I am saying that when we die, we will take out exactly what we brought in—nothing! Job 1:21 says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.” We can hoard up all that we want and even protect it from deterioration to the best of our ability, but eventually it will fade away. We can’t take it with us, and ultimately it will not last.
I hope that this makes you think about how you view what you have. Now with that in mind, it is not wrong to have earthly possessions or money. Remember 1 Timothy 6:10 does not say that money is the root of all evil. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. So Jesus is not banning possessions or money. He is not banning a savings account. Remember the Bible praises the ant for preparing for the future in Proverbs 6, and it also says that a man who does not take the necessary precautions to provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever in 1 Timothy 5:8. He is also not banning enjoying what God has given us. Well, if that is not what He is talking about, then what is He talking about?
The key word here is yourselves. Jesus is talking about gathering possessions and wealth for selfish gain. The problem is that when we accumulate possessions and wealth simply for our own sakes—whether to hoard or to spend selfishly and extravagantly—those possessions become idols. In other words, they become our treasure. Our treasure is anything on which we set out hearts, and when possessions and money take that place, we are in danger. But we will talk about that more in a moment.
Now there is one more thing that I want to address before we move on. If you remember the rich young ruler, then you might be thinking about what Jesus said to him. Does what we learn here about not storing up treasures on earth and Jesus’ command to sell everything and follow Him coincide? The answer is no. The reason I say that is because Jesus does not command everyone to give up all their possessions and money to follow Him. But He does require obedience to His commands no matter what the cost. Your cost may be different that someone else. Yours may involve money and possessions while another person’s may require moving, changing jobs, or being cut off from their family because of their decision to follow Christ. Whatever the cost, we have to follow Christ.
With the understanding that everything on the earth is passing away and that it is okay for us to have possessions and money as long as they do not become our treasure, then what should our treasure be and how do we show that using our possessions and money?
II. The Treasure We Gain in Heaven is Eternal (20)
Now while the things of this earth are passing away, there are things that will never pass away. As 1 Peter 1:4 says, we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Paul says the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “…we look not the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient (or temporary), but the things that are unseen are eternal.” In other words, there are things that we can be hoarding up that are not subject to deterioration, thieves, or passing away. These things are eternal! In fact, investing in these things is really the only sure investment. We can talk about investments and how much return we can get, but is it guaranteed? Honestly, the guaranteed returns are next to nothing, especially today. However, investing in that which is eternal is a sure investment. Nothing will corrupt that investment.
So how do we build up this eternal investment? We do this when everything that we do is done purely for the glory of God. To build up this heavenly investment, we do things on this earth that will impact eternity. In essence, we use all that we have for the glory of God. This means that we use our time to impact eternity; we use our abilities to impact eternity; and we use our possessions and money to impact eternity! This means that our possessions and money, when they are wisely, lovingly, willingly, and generously used for building God’s kingdom, can be a means of accumulating heavenly possessions. So when our time, energy, and possessions are used to serve others and to further the Lord’s work, they build us heavenly resources that are completely free from destruction or theft.
Now I do not know how God has blessed you. You could be very wealthy and everybody knows it. You could be very wealthy and nobody knows it. You could be barely making it and everybody knows it. You could be barely making it and nobody knows it. You could be doing okay, not too good but not too bad either. My question is: Are we using the resources that God has given us to impact this world for Christ, and therefore building up treasure in heaven, which is a sure investment, or are we using the resources that God has given us to get more and more for us, which at best will be left here when we die? Are we making the best use of what we have been given to the glory of God?
Why is this such an important question? It is because this is a matter of the heart.
III. The Location of Our Treasure Indicates the Location of Our Heart (21)
Notice what Jesus says in verse twenty-one: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” As always, the heart must be right first. In fact, if the heart is right, everything else in life falls into its proper place. Notice with me a few verses down in verse twenty-four. Jesus says, “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.” Jesus completely throws compromise out of the window right there. You cannot serve God and money! It is either/or NOT both/and! This is why we have to be so careful if or when we are blessed with wealth. If God grants riches, and we use them for His glory, then riches are a blessing. But if we desire to get rich, and live with that outlook, we will pay a great price for that wealth. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:9, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many and senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
So it is extremely important to have the right view of our possessions and money regardless of how much or how little we have. We still have the responsibility to handle our wealth according to God’s Word. What does His Word have to say about how we handle our money? Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Luke 6:38 says, “…give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
How much more could we as families and as a church do to impact eternity if we began handling our finances the way God tells us to? But how can we give in this way? Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This doesn’t mean that we are unwise with our money and expect God to magically pay our bills, but it does mean that if God tells you to give your last bit of money for the month to the church or to someone in need, you do it and sit back to watch Him meet your needs.
You see, it is a matter of the heart. Where is your treasure? Are you that wrapped up in the things of this world that you have to accumulate more and more? When you get your car paid off, do you have to get another one or can you use that payment to impact eternity? When you get that raise at work, do you have to increase you standard of living to match it, or can you keep things the same and use that extra money to impact eternity? This is a very important matter, because Jesus says that the location of what you treasure indicates where your heart already is! You treasure what your heart is set on. If you are completely and totally satisfied in God and what He provides then your treasure is God, and your earthly possessions and wealth will be used to impact eternity, therefore building up that heavenly investment. But if your satisfaction comes from your income, your possessions, your investment return, your 401k performance, or anything like that, then your treasure is here on earth. Remember, you cannot serve God and money!
Everything on this earth is passing away, and only the things that are stored in heaven will last. So the question remains: Where is your heart? Whether you have a lot of wealth or not, are you living for the here and now or for the eternal? Don’t just say one or the other. Evaluate how you spend your money and use your possessions. Where is your heart? If you are a Christian, make the commitment today to build up treasure in heaven by using all that you have to bring glory to God and make an eternal impact!