“Treasure in Heaven”Categories: Sermons
As you know, one of my favorite things to do in the pulpit is to preach sermons based on the requests made by members here. After all, the whole point of me being up here is to help y’all on to heaven, and the more you tell me what you need, the better able I am to do that!
This morning’s topic came to me from Billy Tanner, who suggested that I ought to preach on laying up treasure in heaven. This is a familiar topic. I can remember studying Jesus’ teaching on this in children’s Bible classes when I still lived in New Jersey. However, even if we know the words to Matthew 6:19-21 by heart, I think there is still more for all of us to understand about them. Without further ado, then, let’s consider the subject of treasure in heaven.
The Lord opens His discourse on this subject by observing that there are TWO OPTIONS FOR TREASURE. Look at Matthew 6:19-20. As I’ve said, this is a passage that many of us have known all our lives, but because it’s so familiar, I think it’s hard for us to appreciate how amazing the Lord’s teaching here is. We have a mental category for “treasure in heaven”, but that category did not exist until Jesus invented it.
He did so to address the struggle that all of us face when we are presented with an opportunity to be generous. I know that when I put my check in the collection plate, or when I give money to a poor person, that money’s gone. However, if I don’t open my wallet, the money stays with me, and I can use it for whatever I want.
When we think that way, Jesus wants us to understand that we’re looking at things exactly wrong. When we refuse to be generous with our money, all we are doing is ensuring that one day we’re going to lose it. Moth and rust can eat it up, and even if they don’t, one day we’re going to die and leave it all behind. As the saying goes, you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul!
On the other hand, though, He wants us to see that the money that we apparently give away is the only money we keep. When we are generous, we are actually saving up that money in the only place it will be safe—in heaven. Of course, this is not literally true. There is no First National Bank of Heaven. However, it is true that God will see our good works, remember them, and reward them.
Next, Jesus wants us to consider the connection between TREASURE AND THE HEART. Let’s read Matthew 6:21-24. Before I go on, it’s worth noting that for some reason we want to cut the context off at v. 21. That’s actually not correct. Jesus’ discussion of treasure in heaven continues to the end of the chapter.
In this section he observes that in addition to not being effective, storing up treasure on earth has another problem. Wherever we put our wealth, that’s where our hearts are going to be too. If we store up treasure in heaven, our hearts will be set on heavenly things, but if we store up treasure on earth, our hearts will be set on earthly things.
The next two verses illustrate the problem with this. When Jesus is talking about the eye here, He’s actually talking about our desires, the things we want. Contextually, He’s talking about whether we desire the things of heaven because we have stored up treasure there, or whether we desire the things of earth because we’ve stored up treasure there. If our hearts are set on heavenly things, our whole lives will be filled with goodness, but if they are set on earthly things, those lives will be filled with darkness and corruption.
At this point, we might find ourselves wondering if we can split the difference, if we can make part of our lives about storing up earthly treasure and part of them about storing up heavenly treasure. No dice, says Jesus. He points out that trying to love both God and money is like trying to be a slave with two masters. In the final analysis, we are always going to belong to one of those masters, and if we think that somehow we have managed to set up a time-share arrangement, Jesus wants us to see that we’re wrong. If we think we’re serving both God and wealth, it’s really Mammon who owns our hearts.
After this, Jesus presents us with OUR APPLICATION. Let’s conclude our reading for the morning by considering Matthew 6:25-34. Once again, allow me to observe that a passage we commonly treat as a separate context actually isn’t separate at all. Notice that v. 25 begins with the words “For this reason”.
For what reason? Well, it’s everything we’ve already studied in the previous six verses. It’s because laying up treasure on earth isn’t effective and laying up treasure in heaven is. It’s because our hearts follow our treasure. It’s because if we think that both earth and heaven can be our goal, we’re fooling ourselves.
So if that’s the logic, what’s the conclusion? Jesus says it’s that we shouldn’t be anxious about even the necessities of life. To us, this may seem like a leap, but it really isn’t. Think about it. When we store up money primarily on earth, isn’t that because we trust in money to be powerful? This money will take care of me. It will keep me safe from harm. On the other hand, when we store up money in heaven, that’s because we trust in God to be powerful. God will take care of me. God will keep me safe from harm, and I’m so sure that He will that I’m even willing to give away the money that would otherwise protect me.
If we choose the first path, we’re going to be anxious. You know why? Because no matter how much money we have, it never will be enough to guarantee our safety. The right job loss, the right stock-market crash, the right illness—all those things still can wipe us out. And so we fret and worry and are miserable.
On the other hand, if we are truly putting our trust in God, we won’t feel anxious. We’ll feel safe. Unlike money, God is great enough to fully protect us. He won’t make us rich, necessarily. He won’t protect us from hard times, even. However, He never will abandon us, and He will make sure that we always have enough.
When we seek His kingdom first, we are putting our trust in His promise, and that’s a good place to put it. There’s not one story in the Bible about God abandoning His faithful children, and I’ve never seen it happen to a faithful Christian in real life either. Only God can keep us safe, and He will always do it.