Generosity

“Treasures in Heaven”: A Look at Matthew 6:19-21

What are "treasures in heaven"? Let's take a look at one Jesus' essential teachings in Matthew 6:19-21.

The people of Jesus should treasure Jesus.

This was the driving force behind Jesus descending from heaven—he wanted to restore our relationship with God. Through faith in Christ, we are no longer God’s enemies. We’re his son or daughter.  

In living for Christ, the greatest challenge you’ll face is money and possessions.

After reading Bible verses about money, we observe a direct correlation between how we handle money and possessions with our faith. In other words, we will either worship wealth or worship with our wealth.

God desires our devotion, and he knows you will battle the temptation of money, which leads us to Matthew 6:19-21.

In this passage, Jesus talks about “earthly treasures,” “treasures in heaven,” and treasuring him.

Let’s take a look.

Matthew 6:19-21:

“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.”

What are “treasures on earth”?

In general, “treasures on earth” includes money and possessions.

Earthly treasures include the things you can touch (e.g., cash, clothes, cars) and the things you cannot touch (e.g., online banking, 401k’s, Bitcoins).

Now, before you jump to the wrong conclusion, Jesus didn’t say that …

  • You can’t own a phone
  • You can’t buy a computer.
  • You can’t purchase a home.
  • You can’t drive a car.
  • You can’t buy gifts for someone.
  • You can’t save or invest money for retirement.
  • You can’t buy more than one shirt or a pair of jeans.

What Jesus did say, was, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth …”

Said another way, stop focusing on accumulating money and things and set your heart pursuing “treasures in heaven,” which leads us to the next question.

What are “treasures in heaven”?

There’s a tendency to think that “treasures in heaven” only refers to tithing in the Bible, sharing with others, and being a generous person. There is an element of truth to this. We see this emphasized in several places in the Bible, including:

  • When Jesus encouraged his followers to sell their possessions and give to the needy (Luke 12:32-33)
  • When Jesus asked people to give to others who cannot repay them (Luke 14:13-14)

In these two examples above, Jesus references receiving “treasures in heaven” and “being repaid” when he returns. So we can see that storing up “treasures in heaven” does include giving to your local church, nonprofits, and to those in need. But that's not all.

There’s more to laying up “treasures in heaven” than giving away our money and possessions. It also includes living for God’s glory and the good of others. Let me explain.

The Bible refers to many ways Christians can store up “treasures in heaven” or “rewards," including:

  • Faithfully enduring persecution (Matt. 5:11-12; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 2 Tim. 4:8)
  • Loving your enemies (Matt. 5:43-48)
  • Praying in secret (Matt. 6:5-6)
  • Serving the Lord and his people (Matt. 10:41-42; 1 Cor. 3:8; Heb. 6:10)

From just these few examples, we see that “rewards” are also associated with living and loving like Jesus.

What’s the bottom line?

Real wealth is obtained by investing in “treasures in heaven.”

You are eternally rewarded when …

  • You give
  • You pray and fast in private
  • You forgive someone
  • You share the gospel
  • You love your enemies
  • You endure insults and persecutions

When it comes to rewards, the greatest reward every follower of Christ will receive is this: Seeing God face-to-face (Matt. 5:8; Rev. 22:4).

In your desire to follow Christ, do you live your life for him because of what he can do for you …

… or do you live for him because you can be with him?

This question really gets to the heart of the matter, which leads us to the final question.

Do you treasure Jesus?

Before you roll up your sleeves to start making deposits into your eternal ledger statement, hang tight. There’s one final thing you need to know.

In this passage, we never heard Jesus say, "Get to work!” But what we do hear Jesus say is this, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

Like an experienced doctor who can diagnose the source of your ailment, Jesus knows that our struggle is an issue of the heart—not what we do or don’t do.

This is why Jesus connected his command to stop laying up “earthly treasures” and store up “treasures in heaven” to the heart. He knows that what we value is reflected in how we live.

On the one hand, when the “world” is your desire, you'll be committed to storing up "earthly treasures.” On the other hand, when Jesus is your treasure, you’ll devote your life to live for his glory and the good others.

Today, as yourself: Do I treasure Jesus or do you treasure the world? Do I obsess over earning more money or buying more things? Or am I consumed with living and loving like Jesus? The answer to these questions will let you if you're living from Jesus from your heart.

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“Treasures in Heaven”: A Look at Matthew 6:19-21