By Ryan Shaw
“Laying up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) is what true disciples do, not to obtain salvation, but out of gratitude and rightly understanding the priorities of God’s heart. This principle is taught in many places in the New Testament.
We set our hearts and give our strength to attaining things having eternal significance. A significant way we lay up treasures is taught in Luke 16 in the parable of the unjust steward. It is the same teaching and application as Jesus gave here in Matthew 6.
Jesus sums up the parable in Luke 16 verse 9 by saying “make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”
If you have money, use it to care for others and not only for yourselves. Our use of money on behalf of others is eternal and “laid up” as treasure in heaven.”
Exactly the opposite of one gathering and hoarding in this life, those “laying up treasure in heaven” recognize the calling to give, bless and help others by using the money given us by God as a stewardship.
Jesus is teaching we actually prepare for being received with comfort and enjoyment in heaven by multitudes who we helped on earth through money and other blessings. We invest in the eternal realm by using our money in the earthly realm with great generosity, looking out for how to care, benefit and lift up others.
This whole section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is meant to help disciples overcome covetousness by “laying up treasure in heaven.”
Covetousness is the unhealthy clinging to or seeking after possessions, status, reputation, position, etc. The Bible, church history & contemporary experience all reveal multitudes of disciples going astray because of this issue.
Covetousness traps our hearts with fear and worry over finances and produces foolish and harmful desires for wealth that result in prioritizing “laying up treasure on earth” instead of eternity.
Many disciples think their primary treasure is heavenly when in reality it is earthly. We have never identified covetousness and how it is motivating actions.
One test to see how we are doing in this area is to recall how we acted when someone blocks, threatens, hinders or delays our finances. How did we feel? The negative emotions that came to the surface alert us to roots of covetousness within.
In other New Testament passages it is taught that disciples use money to “lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come.” (1 Tim 6:17-19) This is the same idea.
Our caring, blessing, encouraging, building up others is carefully watched and accounted for by the Lord Himself. What does this mean for our daily lives?
First, we need a right view of eternity. Without believing we are merely pilgrims here we will fail to rightly “laying up treasure in heaven.” Reminding ourselves that we are eternal beings enables a prioritizing of the eternal realm over the earthly.
We then can have a correct outlook on our gifts, possessions, abilities, capacities, seeking to use them to benefit others, thereby “laying up treasure in heaven.” We are merely stewards of all we have been given.
I use the things I have been given to bless and benefit others. I hold them loosely and am not governed by them but instead govern them.
Jesus finishes the Matthew 6 passage in verse 21 stating “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He has given only two options of where our heart is focused, on earthly things or eternal realities. The human heart follows what it perceives as truly important.
It is not difficult to observe a person and discern rather quickly where there treasure lies. Apart from words, their actions, habits and tendencies always reveal the truth.
If we are convinced the world’s treasure is utmost (even though we say otherwise as a born again believer) our activities and choices reveal this.
When we begin to invest in the eternal realm our interest and desire for that realm increases exponentially. We will care about, give mass amounts of time and energy to that which we invest in.
This is how the human heart operates. What matters is practical action in deliberately setting our hearts and lives “to not lay up treasures on earth but layup treasures in heaven.”
How might you respond to these truths? Are there commitments you need to make get free from covetousness and lay up treasure in heaven? Who around you can you invest in?