One way to avoid doing what Jesus is saying is to avoid hearing it in the first place. However, this avoidance strategy does not make us less liable; nor our houses less susceptible to the storms of life. God will not have us live this way. He cares too much for our salvation and well-being (Luke 6:24).

That seems to be God’s purpose in these articles: to encourage our hearing, that we might grow in faith, trusting Him to provide the grace for our obedience. So, let’s press in to hear, that we might do (and not do) according to Jesus’ saying about our treasures.

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

What are Your Earthly Treasures?

Part 1 encouraged a pause for reflection and prayer, particularly around this question: What are the treasures you have laid up or treasured on earth? If you have not done so, please read Part 1 and invest the time necessary to hear from our Father in heaven.

As we press in to hear what the Father and Jesus are saying, it will be helpful to clear away the clutter. For example, you may say, “I treasure my wife and kids.” While that is a good thing to say, it is not the treasure Jesus is talking about. Wives and kids are not something that moths and rust can destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. Someone else may say, “I treasure the time I have with my wife and kids.” This too is off the mark; for time cannot be laid up for later use.

I bring this up to make a point: The meaning of “treasure” in our culture is not quite the same as the treasure Jesus is speaking of here. As much as we might prefer to talk about something else, the treasure Jesus is talking about is our wealth. This becomes obvious when we consider verse 24:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

A word search for treasure reveals much the same meaning.

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

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

Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:33-34

Jesus did not have a problem talking about wealth. In fact, He spoke about it more than any other subject. He did not shrink back from addressing the greatest threat to our loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We would be foolish to shrink back from considering it – even with fear and trembling – for our God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24).

The Difference “for Yourselves” Makes

Before we pause for a time of reflection and prayer, we should consider the matter of “for yourselves”. I am sure you will agree that every word in the Scriptures is there by intention. By including “for yourselves”, Jesus helps us focus on the laying up that is to be avoided (in part 3, we will focus on the laying up that is encouraged).

The difference “for yourselves” can make is best understood in relation to retirement accounts. If these accounts are for our retirement, then we are doing the very thing Jesus is saying we should not do (and our houses will not stand in the storm).

On the other hand, a good man leaves an inheritance to His children’s children (Proverbs 13:22), and laying up for an offering is also encouraged (2Corinthians 9:5). So, there is a laying up of earthly treasure that does not violate this saying of Jesus. As is so often the case, our motivation is primary and critical, and we must be careful not to deceive ourselves.

Finally, there is an obvious and simple question we should be asking ourselves: Did God direct me to lay this up? For many of us, that question forces us to think back to a time we may not have had the sense, faith, inclination, or ability to hear God’s answer. Of course, that does not excuse our answer and obedience now.

A Pause for Reflection and Prayer

Now that we have our focus on the true meaning of earthly treasures, let’s go back to God and ask Him to search our hearts regarding the treasures we have laid up; as well as our motivation for doing so. Psalm 139:23-24 is a great place to start; and 1John 1:9 to end. In between, remember that God works all things to the good of those that love Him, to those that are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We should be particularly suspicious about treasures that God did not specifically direct us to lay up. Something that seems like wisdom, may be the world’s wisdom (i.e., earthly, carnal). If our heart’s desire is to truly do this saying of Jesus, we will be careful about our assumptions. Take everything to God in prayer, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Lastly, do not despair. God has a purpose for the wealth He has allowed us to accumulate. He has put a desire in our heart for that purpose. Surrender will bring the knowledge of His pleasure, discovery of the keys to laying up treasures in heaven, and entrance into the adventure of a lifetime.

Humbly yours and forever His,