19. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust can eat them away, and where thieves break in and steal.
20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust can eat them away, and where thieves neither break in nor steal.
21. For your heart will be on where you have stored up your treasure.
This Sunday note directly addresses a tendency that I have observed in many churches, where material blessings are held up as proof of God’s blessings, and you are directly or indirectly encouraged to pursue material blessings as sign of God’s favour.
Now, there is nothing wrong with material blessings. However, let us look here at the words of Jesus Himself.
v19: Jesus gives us the reason why we should not store up treasures for ourselves on earth. This reason is because earthly treasures are perishable. If they are clothes, then they can be eaten up by moths. If they are iron or steel, then they can rust away. We can continue this thinking like this: if they are of glass, then they can break. If they are of wood, then they can get consumed by fire. Otherwise, thieves can also break in and steal them. I do not think that this means that we should not enjoy fine and lovely things here on earth. I think what Jesus is saying is that we should not place our security on these things, or invest all our energies into building a treasure-trove of things that will eventually disappear. Even if none of these bad things happen to our earthly treasures, we all know that we will all eventually face an event which will permanently separate us from all we have worked hard to build on earth – death (or for Christians, the Rapture, whichever comes first!) And we all know that we cannot take anything with us. Even if we insist on being buried with our treasures, as the Ancient Egyptians did, we know that these treasures remain physical and limited to Planet Earth; we cannot “convert” them into any currency of the afterlife.
v20: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”. Heaven has a clear advantage over earth in that there are no moths, there is no rust, there are no thieves. When we work for God’s kingdom, when we preach His Good News, and “do good” to other people, then we are actually storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven, which will always remain, and never disappear. It is not that Jesus is saying that wealth is bad. It is more like He is showing how silly it is to work for wealth that will vanish, when we could work for wealth that stays forever.
v21: “For your heart will be on wherever you have stored your treasure”. This is one reason why as Christians, especially Christians in Black Pentecostal Churches, we HAVE to radically change our thinking. It is one thing to say that we are working for God’s Kingdom, but when all our efforts are essentially being expended into developing signs of “success” down here on earth, then the demands of heaven will be pushed to the back of our thinking. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I guess I am so focused on “excelling” on earth that the Kingdom of God, and my duties within that Kingdom become secondary. Yes, I am as committed to living for God as I know how to be, but I have to shift my thinking to building up glorious treasures in heaven. I pray for you the grace to do this, as I also pray for myself. Amen! 😉