Two Commands and a Question (Matthew 6:19-21)
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
In the midst of Jesus’ command to keep an eternal financial perspective, He says plainly that earth is where thieves break in and steal. It’s one of the facts about our fallen world. Here, treasures aren’t safe. Don’t we know it. Recent headlines tell of thieves, captured on video, leaving major retailers with armloads, and even trash bags, full of stolen merchandise. Whatever the current crime levels, high or low, Jesus’ command remains: do not store up treasures on earth. Don’t stockpile and design bigger barns. Instead, plan for the ultimate future by storing up treasures in heaven.
Jesus’ command takes the form of both a negative and a positive: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, but do lay them up for yourselves in heaven. He then implies a question.
In verse 21 we see that Jesus isn’t merely a financial advisor who appeals to common sense. Rather, He is the Savior who diagnoses our inmost being and counsels us unto eternity. Financial advisors tell us not to invest in earthly treasures that are susceptible to decay or devaluation. They direct us to vehicles for growing earthly wealth. But Jesus prompts us to question the purpose of our existence: why we do the things we do, and where we will be spending eternity. He does this with heavenly efficiency. Just 11 short words turn our identity upside down: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount he wasn’t merely speaking as a skilled rabbi who captivated people. He was and is God incarnate with the power to diagnose the hearts of every human. He sees incisively into our hearts and helps us see that the things we love and find our hope in reveal whether our hearts are invested in earth, which will pass away, or in heaven, which will last forever. The question our Savior poses to us is this: where will you spend eternity? He graciously explains that we know the answer by what we treasure. This is a question every human must honestly ask and answer. For those who claim to be Christians, Jesus doesn’t emphasize what you do as much as what you love. Thus, we should ask ourselves: “what do I love; does it align with eternity?” Since Jesus is God and not an advisor, he lays claim to the center of our being, including the things we treasure.
Psalm 119:93 says, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” We should celebrate the way the commands of Jesus spell out good news for those who believe in His name and follow Him in faith. Jesus helps us to see that storing up treasures in heaven isn’t a burdensome task but in line with what we long to do. Who doesn’t want increasing returns on their investments? Who doesn’t want eternal joy? Without this view into eternity the command of Jesus may seem like a call to asceticism, but with it we can begin to see it as an invitation to deeper joy. May we respond to His call in faith and pursue not money, but Jesus, with all our heart. He alone is where lasting satisfaction is found, on earth, and forever in heaven.
What earthly treasures tempt you to prize them above all else?
How might giving generously guard your heart against storing up treasures on earth?
Study the prayer of Agur in Proverbs 30:7-9 for wisdom about stewarding financial riches on earth.
Kevin Feder lives in St. Michael, MN. He and his wife, Karen, have been married for 21 years and have three children between ages 14-18. Kevin has served in various pastoral roles since 2007, and is currently serving as the Pastor of Discipleship at Northwest Bible Church in St. Michael. His favorite leisure activities include fishing, hiking, broom ball, and coaching his son in baseball.