What Does It Mean to Store Up Treasures in Heaven?

by Jason on September 9, 2010

What could be better than the American Dream?

A steady job.  Money in the bank.  A hefty 401k for retirement.

Couple that with a nice house in the ‘burbs, a white-picket fence, two kids, a dog, a Swagger Wagon for mom and a sedan for dad - Life couldn’t get any better than that – right?

But is that really all there is to life?

Do we really just go through life trying to reach the next promotion so we can move into a better neighborhood with a better school system so our kids can do better than we have done?

I often think about what Jesus would say about the American Dream.

Would he want everyone to be a home-owner, everyone to have the comfort and security of a nice economy with nothing to worry about?

For some reason, I find it hard to believe Jesus would encourage us to pursue the American Dream!  Maybe I’m wrong – if so, please tell me.

But here’s why I think this:

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.  Matt 6:19-21

If you boil down the American Dream, it seems to be consumed with earthly treasure.

So here’s my question to you (and me):

Are you building up earthly treasure, or are you storing up treasures for yourself in heaven?”

In order to answer that question we need to understand the difference between earthly and heavenly treasure; and we also need to look at our own hearts to determine which one we are really living for.

The Heart of the Matter

This whole issue of heavenly versus earthly treasure really comes down to the heart.  In other words, which do you love more – earthly goods or heavenly treasure?

Don’t you just love how Jesus always brings things right back to our hearts and challenges us with our idols?

Jesus reaches down to the epicenter of our souls, challenges our framework and flips it upside down to see if He is the one we are living for!

He does this over and over again.  And as much as I am convicted by Him, it’s one of the very things I love about Him!

So, let me ask you  – are you constantly worrying about your money?  Do you have an unhealthy preoccupation with your net worth, accumulating more wealth, becoming debt-free, investing, making more money, saving more money, or getting the next promotion?

By themselves, those things are great.  But, an unhealthy obsession turns those things into earthly treasure.  Again, it comes down to what our hearts love more!

What Is Treasure in Heaven?

In Jesus time, the Jews he was speaking to would have been very familiar with the terms “earthly treasure” and “heavenly treasure”.  It was common for their vernacular.

In fact, the Jews defined storing up treasure in heaven as deeds of mercy and deeds of kindness to people in distress.

Jesus, in Luke 12:33-34, gives us an idea of treasure in heaven when he says:

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

We see here that Jesus equates selling possessions and giving to the needy as treasure in heaven.

If I were to define it myself, treasure in heaven would simply be living life with open hearts and open hands.

Open hearts means we have a heart that God has – one for the poor, the weak the disenfranchised and the marginalized.

Open hands means that we have a loose grip on our own possessions so that our earthly goods are used to have an impact on those who are less fortunate for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself said he had come to, “Proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18.

We store up treasure in heaven by seeking the Kingdom of God through helping others, which demonstrates the greatest of all sacrifices that God made for us!

How Do We Pursue Treasure in Heaven?

So how should we respond to this?

Repent  From Earthly Treasure

We always need to start here any time we see that we’ve been living for something else besides Christ himself.  Turn from earthly treasure and turn to God and worship Him.

Replace Earthly Treasure

Earthly treasure (and our love for it) must be replaced by a deeper love for Jesus.  There is only one way to deal with this issue correctly and that is a reorientation back to the greatness of  the gospel:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9

Rearrange Our Priorities

Instead of living for six digits, job status, houses, cars, TV’s, vacations, comfort or security – we should be living for the next level of giving, of helping the poor and of using our money for the sake of the gospel!!

In other words, our priorities should be set on simplification for the Kingdom of God, not accumulation for our own earthly kingdom!

Here are some practical ways to rearrange priorites and start living for heavenly treasure:

  • Build generosity into your budget – have a set amount that you use every month and start looking to give to others and those in need.
  • Give time and money to local shelters – The Boys and Girls clubs are in desperate need of volunteers to come and spend time with disadvantaged youth.  That’s one out of hundreds of organizations that need help.
  • Have a garage sale or sell junk on ebayand give the proceeds away to a hurting family!
  • Adopt an orphan or become a foster parent – there are so many kids that need good structure and parents who love them.
  • Teach financial skills to those who need help
  • Think twice - Instead of accepting a promotion based on money think about whether your job will allow you to pursue true wealth.

What are Your Thoughts?

Readers, what other practical ways could you share to pursue treasure in heaven?

This was a post I did for ChristianPF.com.  You can view the original here.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin M September 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Everytime I read the Gospels I keep seeing the word FAITH–it’s all about faith, and Jesus emphasizes this again and again. Pursuit of money is the opposite of faith on so many fronts! It says “I don’t really trust God so I need to build my own security”. Yes, we need a certain amount of money to get by in life, but most of us take it well beyond that and we’re encouraged to do so by the culture and the financial industry.

The problem with money as a form of security is that it can disappear more quickly than it came, and it’s also of little comfort when we’re on our death beds. Worse, the pride in us can make us believe that prosperity is a sign of the strength of our walk with God. That’s a completely self serving concept, but an easy one to fall into.

Anonymous September 9, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Kevin, great point about a lack of faith and building our own earthly kingdoms. Self-sufficiency makes us less dependent on the God of the universe and makes us think we are our own little gods! Very, very easy to fall into and one I have to watch for myself constantly.

Paul Williams September 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Excellent article, Jason! I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately as my entire profession (financial planning) revolves around money all the time. I also just finished Crazy Love by Francis Chan and watched his sermon “Lukewarm and Loving It”. He goes so far as to say (as I hear it) that we shouldn’t save anything at all because that’s seeking security and not God.

I was wondering what you and your readers think. Does Matthew 6:19-21 mean we shouldn’t save anything at all? Or is it speaking against hoarding, greed, and preoccupation with material things?

Gustavo Latini September 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I´m an argentinian Pastor… I´m study all about investment and I think that we need to make both, heavenly and earthly riches. The heavenly riches was for me. But the earthly riches was for to do the work of the Lord:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
(Mar 16:15)

We can´t go without money. We need money to do it. We need to make riches for the purpose of the Kindom… this is the point. This is the trully reason. We need to be the head, riches and prosperous.

Walter September 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

The error of many is that they invest all of their time and energy pursuing the temporary riches of this world. What they don’t know is that we should invest on our spirituality–the only thing permanent in the universe. By exploring the deeper aspect of ourselves, we will see the worthy things worth pursuing. :-)

Brad Harmon September 16, 2010 at 7:00 am

I absolutely love how you phrased this, “Open hands means that we have a loose grip on our own possessions so that our earthly goods are used to have an impact on those who are less fortunate for the sake of Jesus Christ.” What a great way to think of our earthly possessions.

Mitzi September 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

I’ve contemplated this topic. In the book of Proverbs it tells us to go to the ants and consider her ways. She’s an industrious people and ants lay up in store, work hard and make provision for the times they can’t work. I think we’re to be hard working industrious, creative people who do all we can for ourselves and others. The book also tells us not to “hide ourselves” from our own flesh(our family members in need is the way I take this). We learn from Cain that we are our brothers keepers, if we don’t want to fall into his same error. I think it’s okay to have some savings so we can help ourselves and others, but we should also know that our true resources are in God because He knows what we need before we ask Him. This is all tied up with stewardship of God’s material blessings. In a nutshell, we shouldn’t be greedy but we should be wise and we should always place the needs of others; especially those who carry the gospel to the world, equal to or above our own needs. Work with your own hands that which is good so you’ll have to give to those in need. The Lord may show me something completely different but for now this is how I’m thinking. 

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