Bible with Cross ShadowThis saying of Jesus, now in its third part, has gotten more attention that the previous ones, for a couple of reasons. Personally, this saying has been especially challenging in my life. I was raised to save for my retirement, and the world has only encouraged that approach for my future security.

God is using this bit of writing to test my heart. In it, I will be either convicted of sin, forgiven and made free, or I will find peace in my stewardship of His provision. I expect the former will lead to the latter.

Secondly, I have a responsibility as a disciple of Jesus Christ to make disciples through my writing. I am hopeful that He is using this to test and prove your heart; for Satan, the world and our flesh have deceived us in regards to this matter of laying up treasures for ourselves.

If you have not explored the “do not” of parts 1 and 2, you should do that before proceeding here. The process and its order are important. Once we have dealt with the deception of earthly treasures, we can turn our attention to the second part of this saying – the part we are to do.

Again, for our reference:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

An Eternal Perspective

One of the greatest inhibitors to our hearing and doing this saying is our lack of faith and perspective for eternity. Let’s face it: Most of us spend the greater part of our lives laying up wealth so we can enjoy the last feeble portion of our seventy or eighty years here on earth. We are so focus on investing for retirement that we fail to lay up for that portion of our life that is immeasurable in its duration.

Dare to think about that for a moment. It may be the most liberating thought you have ever had. Francis Chan gives a wonderful illustration of this in a video that has been posted on YouTube. Go ahead and take a look. It is only four or five minutes.

In his book The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn makes a great point: Jesus is warning us to store up treasures in heaven, not as an obligation, but “for ourselves” – for our good. Laying up treasures in heaven is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.

Here are some additional passages to help our understanding, and encourage a shift in our paradigm about the treasures we lay up.

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Matthew 16:27

So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:20-21

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 1Corinthians 9:24

These are just of few of the passages that speak to the treasures awaiting us in heaven – if we lay them up there. This may be a point we are missing. Perhaps we have been taught that the treasures are automatic; that our lives here on earth have no bearing on the rewards of heaven. This saying of Jesus directly challenges that understanding.

Furthermore, we must consider the issues of our obedience to our Master. His sayings are not suggestions. In our disobedience, are we not burying our talents in the ground (Matthew 25:24-30)? Life did not end well for that wicked and lazy servant.

This is not the Father’s desire for us. He has graciously filled the Scriptures with motivation for laying up treasures in heaven. He has made it incredibly clear that the exchange of earthly treasures, for that which are of heaven, is decidedly in our favor. God Himself secures them from corruption, defilement and loss. This is a truth that we must reckon for ourselves – on a regular basis – if we are to maintain an eternal perspective.

God’s Ways for Laying Up Treasures in Heaven

As you might expect, the Bible provides clear instructions for laying up treasures in heaven. Before we look at some of the more obvious ones, let’s remind ourselves that the sayings of Jesus are about more than our doing something (thought not to diminish that part of the process). The sayings of Jesus are also about our being something: Poor in spirit, meek, hungry, etc.; and they are about our surrender to the One that will make us – that through Him, we would hear and do what He is saying.

With that in mind, here are a few of the ways God encourages us to lay up treasures in heaven.

  1. Believe He is a rewarder.

    But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

  2. Be self-controlled and content in all things.

    And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1Corinthians 9:25

  3. Seek out the treasures of God’s word.

    I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure. Psalm 119:162

  4. Become a vessel of His good works.

    But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2Corinthians 4:7

    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

  5. Invest your “talents” wisely (Matthew 25:20-21, above).
  6. Receive persecution as a blessing.

    Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12

  7. Sell what you have and give to the poor.

    Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21

  8. Abandon all to follow the Lord.

    And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife
    or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
    Matthew 19:29

  9. Be radically different than the world.

    Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Luke 6:35

Laying up treasures in heaven is not easy; nor is it a passive undertaking. In fact, the prospects are quite intimidating. We shouldn’t be surprised. Everything of value requires a compensatory investment. The return is incredible, and we would be fools to turn our backs on the opportunity; but, all the more foolish to think that the treasures of heaven are cheap.

Follow Your Heart’s Desire

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

If you are a child of God, He has placed a desire for heavenly treasure in your heart. It is with the heart that we believe (Mark 11:23; Romans 10:10). Pursue the heavenly desires of your heart and you will be transformed. Trust God and surrender to His work in you (Philippians 2:12-13), and He will give you the desire to lay up treasures in heaven (Psalm 37:4).

A closing word for those with accumulated wealth: The Father’s intention for our laying up differs from person to person, and from circumstance to circumstance. There is no formula, but do not despair. God has a purpose for the wealth He has allowed you to accumulate. Trust and obey. There is no other way to know His pleasure and His great reward.

… and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1Peter 5:4

Humbly yours and forever His,