What Does it Mean to Store Up Treasures in Heaven? (Matthew 6:19-21)
What is the real purpose of life? Is it simply to store up treasures such as money and possessions and then lose it all when we die – or is there more to life than the pursuit of temporary things?
In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In this Scripture Jesus speaks of the problems associated with materialism and the human desire to accumulate treasures on earth.
We live in a worldly system where we try to accumulate money, wealth and possessions, as if that is our sole and only purpose in life. But ironically on the day we die, we leave the very things we spent a whole lifetime trying to accumulate.
Even the author of Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 NLT writes: There is another serious tragedy I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity. 2 God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then He doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy.
The blunt truth is that when we were born into this world we came with nothing. Therefore when we leave this world, we will certainly leave with nothing.
1 Timothy 6:7 says: For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.
There is certainly nothing wrong with working, earning money nor acquiring various assets in one’s life. Whether we are Christians or not, the Bible encourages us to work and earn a living if we are to physically survive and thrive in this world.
However, our sole purpose in life is not about accumulating wealth and riches. Our sole purpose in life has nothing to do with the fulfillment of materialistic lusts and passions. In God’s eyes our material wealth (or lack of it) does not determine who we are spiritually and inwardly. Furthermore we should not seek material wealth as a method of fulfilling our personal greed, our pride and our covetous desires.
In Luke 12:15 Jesus says: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
For many, the sole pursuit of riches in one’s life can lead to many temptations and downfalls.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 says: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Therefore in Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus encourages us to lay up treasure in heaven and not on Earth. Jesus is saying that we must be heavenly minded; we must focus on eternal issues and not just the temporary things of life.
Temporary treasure can get stolen, lost and destroyed when we die – but the eternal treasures of God can never be stolen, lost or destroyed.
Our time on Earth is temporary, but how we live on this planet will affect where we eternally go when we die.
The devil will always offer man temporary pursuits and pleasures, but God will always offer everlasting desires and blessings.
How to Store Up Treasure in Heaven
What does storing up treasure in Heaven look like? How does a person lay up treasures in Heaven and not on earth?
Storing up treasures in heaven means that there are rewards that await those who live Biblically in order to please and glorify God.
We can lay up treasures in heaven in the following way:
1. Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ is our ultimate treasure. Christ alone is more important than anything or anyone in life. Without Christ we are nothing and we can do nothing (John 15:4-8). Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of eternal life and all that is good for mankind.
Becoming born again will ultimately lead to a new heart that will seek heavenly treasure instead of earthly treasure. It’s through a genuine relationship with Christ that we have renewed minds which seek the things of God and not the things of this world.
Colossians 3:1-2 says: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
2. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every Christian is called of be a minister of Christ and win souls to Christ. So every Christian is called to use his/her gifts to glorify Jesus Christ and win souls to His kingdom. So when we participate in the Great Commission the Bible promises that we shall receive the crown of glory as a reward.
1 Peter 5:2-4 says: Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
3. Do everything to the glory of God. Rewards are received for those whose motive is to glorify God in everything they do. Storing treasures in Heaven means that we do not live for ourselves and to meet our own individual desires. Instead in whatever we do, we seek that God may be glorified and not man.
Colossians 3:23-24 says: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
4. Seek first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness. Storing treasures in heaven means putting God first and seeking to live righteously. When we live righteous lives and bear good fruit then we will be rewarded (Matthew 6:18).
Seeking God’s righteousness may also lead to persecution but God also promises that those who are persecuted for Christ are blessed and will indeed be rewarded.
In Matthew 5:10-12 Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
5. Deny yourself, follow Christ and do not conform to the standards of the world. In Romans 12:2 we are told not to conform to the standards of this world. When we attempt to gain the love and friendship of the world, then our reward and treasure will be the temporary things of this world.
However, when we deny ourselves in pursuit of Jesus Christ, then we will receive eternal life and the eternal treasure that comes with being a child of God.
In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus says: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?”
Ultimately to store treasure in heaven means to live in obedient relationship with God and in a manner that glorifies Him. Storing treasures in heaven includes: denying the self and refusing friendship with the world and setting our mind on things above and not on things on the earth.
In a fallen world full of economic and financial problems, there is always the temptation to focus on money and all the other temporary things of life. Unfortunately, hardships and poverty can force people to think about the temporary and not eternity.
However, we must beware of the temptations of this world which include the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Jesus Himself is our real treasure. He is everything we need both on Earth and in the afterlife. So we have the option to either choose God or to choose the temporary things of this world.
After advising us to store up treasures in Heaven Jesus then says the following in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The ultimate goal of mankind is not to serve money or our materialistic passions. There is more to life than the pursuit of materialism. Our life does not consist in the abundance of material things. We came into this world with nothing, so we will leave the material things behind when we die. Our goal is to serve God and to seek His righteousness through a relationship with Jesus Christ.