Your Treasure (Matthew 6:19-21)
A few months before RJ was born, Tammy and I went to a Saturn dealership and bought a new car–I had always wanted a Saturn. Tammy drove that little car to and from work, and she soon realized the car desperately needed a new stereo—the factory-installed one just wasn’t going to work for her.
So, the week before Christmas that year I borrowed the Saturn to “run some errands.” But I really took her car to an electronics store and had a nice stereo installed. Tammy loved it. That is, until the stereo was stolen.
One morning, Tammy noticed the driver side door was ajar. She opened the door, and, instead of a stereo, she found a black square with dangling wires. Tammy called the police, they came, and we filed a report; of course, we never saw that stereo again.
You have surely lost things important to you. Some of you have been victims of theft. Others of you have seen your 401K lose value. Some of you had a favorite pair of lounge pants—the most comfortable thing you owned and what you wore whenever you were home—and one day, that favorite outfit was nothing but bare threads. Some of you have lost your wallet with credit cards and cash and your driver’s license inside.
The truth of the matter is that nothing in this world will last. “The heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved” (2 Pet 3:10). The Lord Jesus spoke about losing treasures either through theft or decay. Jesus used the imagery of theft and decay to teach an important truth: “Heaven is worth everything.”
Scripture (Matthew 6:19-21)
The problem with laying up treasures on earth is that moth and rust destroy. Clothing was a major form of wealth in first-century Palestine. Moths could easily consume that clothing and render it worthless, causing one to lose that treasure.
“Rust” would also destroy. The Greek term here literally means “eating,” and some newer translations have rendered this word as “vermin.” Jesus could very well have intended both “vermin” and “rust” here. In other words, anything—whether it be rust or pests—that consumes will destroy your wealth. The rich would often bury currency in the ground; if those coins were to rust, their value would be lost.
Thieves break in and steal. Homes in ancient Palestine were made of mud-brick walls. Even if you secured your doors and placed your valuables in a lockbox, thieves could easily dig through your wall and take whatever they wanted.
Our Lord spoke here of the temporary nature of our possessions. In no way was he saying it’s wrong to have possessions. Rather, he sought to teach his disciples that the things of this world come and go. Therefore, only the most foolish people trust in possessions.
Instead of trusting in possessions, one should, Jesus said, “lay up . . . treasures in heaven.” “Treasures in heaven” refers to the heavenly reward. As one lays up “treasures in heaven,” he looks to the next world and does what is necessary to gain eternal life.
Nothing can destroy one’s treasure in heaven; one’s treasure in heaven is permanent. The Christian’s inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” (1 Pet 1:4). Whatever you have in this world is susceptible to theft and decay—not so one’s heavenly treasure!
Your heart will follow your treasure. If you put your hope and confidence in your stuff, you will be tied to this world. If, however, your heart finds its hope in God, you will be tied to your heavenly reward.
“Heaven is worth everything.” That was the message of Jesus in this section of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus made the same point another time.
- Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man stumbled on that treasure, he sold everything he owned to buy that field and own that treasure (Matt 13:44).
- Jesus also that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a valuable pearl. The man sold everything he owned to buy that one pearl (Matt 13:45).
Heaven is worth everything you think or you do or you earn or you possess.
How can you demonstrate that “Heaven is worth everything?”
Look at what is really important in your life—what’s paramount to you. How important is your family to you? How important is earning money to you? How important is keeping your job to you? How important is being in good shape to you? How important is your house . . . or your car . . . or your manicured lawn . . . or your pets . . . or your hobbies to you?
There is nothing at all wrong with anything I just mentioned, and I do not mean to imply that there is. In fact, it’s good to love your family and to provide for them and to be a good steward of what God has given you.
However, the kingdom of God MUST come first.
- “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24).
- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26).
- “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8).
If you are not willing to give up every single thing in your life to follow Jesus, you simply cannot have treasure in heaven.
Look at your life this past week and think about what was paramount.
- Did you allow your family to keep you from serving God?
- Did you allow money and the desire for possessions to keep you from serving God?
- Did you allow your job to keep you from serving God?
- Did you allow your diet or exercise routine to get in the way of serving God?
- Did you allow housework or yard work or car maintenance or your pets to keep you from serving God?
You must grasp that everything you hold dear in life is temporary. Your children and grandchildren will grow up; your spouse will die. Your money can be lost in the stock market or through bad investments. Your job won’t be there forever; the company will move, you’ll be fired, or you’ll retire. Your health—regardless of your efforts—won’t always be good. Your house, your car, your lawn, and your pets won’t be around forever.
You see, nothing in this world will last forever.
- “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away” (Ps 102:25-26).
- “The present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31b).
- “The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).
Understand that anything keeping you from seeking heavenly treasure will soon be gone.
You need to grasp that your treasure in heaven is permanent. You will never lose glory in heaven, for God, the One who gives that glory, lives forever.
- “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deut 33:27).
- “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Rev 1:8).
You will never lose glory in heaven, for heaven never ends: “There will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11).
Contemplate how permanent heaven is. Spend some time thinking about all the eternal treasure which will one day be yours.
After you’ve explored everything we’ve discussed, make a plan to live in such a way you demonstrate your treasure really is in heaven.
- What will you do in the morning because your treasure is in heaven?
- What will you do in the afternoon because your treasure is in heaven?
- What will you do in the evening because your treasure is in heaven?
Tomorrow I want you contemplate those questions seriously. Tuesday I want you to make the answers to those questions reality. At work, at home, at school, at the gym, at the restaurant, at the grocery store, or wherever else you are, how will you live because your treasure is in heaven? How much time will you spend in prayer and Bible study? How will you treat those around you? How will you repent of your sins? How will your heart look beyond this temporary world to the eternal world to come?
You know that making plans without action is foolish. You can accomplish nothing—getting a job or losing weight or getting out of debt or getting to heaven—simply by planning; you must act. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Js 1:22). It does no good simply to say the right words—you must do the right acts. What do your actions show this morning? Is your treasure—your heart—in heaven?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.