You and I know, in a cerebral manner, the admonition to be wary of earthly treasures. However, we don’t always live it with clarity in the day-by-day stuff of life. Already-but-not-yet discernment, temporal-against-eternal distinctions, and sight-versus-faith eyes are for the wise of heart. Living in the world but not of the world is a deliberate choice (John 17:11, 14).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…” Matthew 6:19
Our eyes are diverted by shiny objects—call them golden fancies. Our passions are drawn to our preferred interests—call them golden dreams. Our energy is given to the temporal.
It all rots and rusts. Thieves can break in and steal your things. We should not let our things have our hearts.
This is not to say we don’t give appropriate value to and care for our possessions. A house is a gift, and it must be cared for to some degree. This is not an admonition to run from possessions. Going to extremes is not the answer. However, this admonition is a warning for balance and perspective.
“Many men and women look at the shine and glittering of prosperity, but they little think of the burden…” Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. Earthly treasures are temporal but tempting. They are desirable but disappointing. Moths, rust, and thieves are targeting your things to get to your heart. Hold your things loosely in your hands. Enjoy them, but don’t let them own you.
“…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20
A better investment is to put your energy and desires toward eternal treasures. We pray “…Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). But do we truly invest in his kingdom so that his will is done? Or could it be we are laying up treasures on earth? Do we live as if it is my kingdom come? Again, let perspective and balance be applied.
“Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world’s golden store, from each idol that would keep us, saying, ‘Christian, love me more.’” Cecil Frances Alexander, “Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult”
We need to intentionally lay up treasures from God’s Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—in heaven. We need to invest in people. We need to pour our energies into the peoples from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). We need to look upon the distressed and downcast with compassion (Matthew 9:36).
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Heavenly treasures are eternal and honorable. They require vision, discipline, and hope born of spiritual promises.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
If your eye is drawn to an earthly treasure, your heart is quick to follow. Your heart sets it passions on the temporal. It’s unavoidable. If you treasure earthly stuff, your heart treasures earthly stuff. If you treasure heavenly gain, your heart will treasure heavenly gain.
“We are always living the quest for something. We are always in pursuit of some vision, some desire, or some dream.” Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies
When you see golden fancies or have golden dreams, turn away quickly. Seek diligently to maintain perspective. Keep earthly treasures in their place. Elevate heavenly treasures to their rightful place. Eternal stories trump temporal stories—both the exuberant and the tragic. Tell a more wonderful story to yourself and to others.
“I love to tell the story—more wonderful it seems, than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams; I love to tell the story—it did so much for me, and that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.” A. Katherine Hankey, “I Love to Tell the Story”
If you’re distracted by golden fancies or golden dreams, you need to understand your heart is a battleground. I see so much more clearly in the light that comes from the shadow of death.
“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. …For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” Colossians 1:11, 19