YOUR TREASURES AND YOUR HEART
Study Text: Matthew 6:19-21
- We live in a world in which success is measured by the size of one’s wealth or possessions, by one’s accomplishments or fame, and in terms of one’s IQ, grades or GPA, educational degrees, talent, position or power.
- Regrettably, Christians are also often tempted to view success in terms of these temporal realities. They forget that whereas fame, education, wealth, beauty, athletic prowess, talent, and power can easily be lost, there are some things that are of enduring value—such things as compassion, love, generosity, kindness, sympathy, humility, etc.
-These virtues not only measure the greatness of a person, but they also reveal who a person really is. We call these virtues character traits. According to our Lord Jesus Christ, those are the treasures that really count.
Identifying Your Treasures:
If you were asked to list the five most important things in your life right now? What would they be?
-two follow-up questions:
• If you lived in a foreign country where a civil war suddenly erupted, what three possessions would you take with you if you had to leave right away?
• If your home or dormitory were on fire, what items would you rescue before exiting?
- I don’t know what you would add to that list. But whatever they are, those items reveal the things you truly value in life. They are the things you hold dear, the things you consider essential to your happiness, survival, and security.
- They are your treasures, and your treasures determine your priorities. They reveal your true ambitions, your attractions, and your affections.
- The decisive question: Are the things you presently treasure what they ought to be? Do your treasures have a lasting value?
-What would be their value in five or ten years time? Would their value appreciate or depreciate? Would there come a time when you would lose interest in these things you presently hold dear.
-Do you see yourself ever giving them up or exchanging them for something more valuable—something more enduring?
Seven Insights From the Lessons
- However, beginning in verse 19 of Matthew 6 and running through the remainder of the chapter, Jesus shifted the focus of His sermon hypocrisy in religious practices to the values we hold in life. He explained that worldly values are as dangerous as religious hypocrisy. For unless the object of our lives—our treasures—are based on eternal realities, we stand the risk of losing everything. Our Lord makes this point in the following three verses of Matthew 6:19-21:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let’s briefly consider seven important things that emerge from the three verses above.
1. Everyone Has Treasures:
- The implication is that everyone has some treasure – even the poor have it. The reason Christ did not exclude anyone from the matter of treasures is because treasures consist more in the affections of the heart than in what one can hold in his hands.
- Thus, every human being—regardless of their age, status, gender, ethnicity, educational background, etc.—considers some things as very valuable. So, the question to all of us—including our young people, is: What is your treasure?
2. What Are Treasures?
- But treasures may be tangible or intangible. They can be held in the hand or simply stored in the mind.
- A treasure is that upon which you place your affections and attention. It may be your money, possessions, reputation, honor, praise, relationship, degree, or time.
-Your treasure is that which you value above other things.
- For example, Achan valued a Babylonian garment and a little silver and gold above the commands of God, so he took what was banned in the conquering of Jericho. Because Achan treasured “things” more than obedience to the Lord he ended up losing all (Joshua 7).
-On the other hand, the greatest treasure of Ananias and Saphira was what others thought about them. They wanted to be honored before men more than having the approval of God. Their whole attitude and behavior was geared to his honor and reputation; and in the end they lost all of it—including their lives (Acts 5).
- Thus, your treasure is your attitude toward your possessions. It is whatever you most eagerly strive to attain. It is that which you most dread to lose.
- The question is: What is your treasure? What do you deem most valuable? Is it your some prized possession, perhaps your physical appearance, an expensive outfit, or an enviable talent or ability?
-Or maybe it is a particular circle of friends or desire for attention or longing for recognition for your accomplishments? Is it a boyfriend or girlfriend, or some other kind of relationship?
-You can recognize your treasures by that which you think is most important to you, that which you believe you cannot do without, that which brings you the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, and that which you think most about. You might give up other things, but you are not willing to part with your treasure.
3. Jesus Not Opposed to Treasures:
- When Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth...," does it mean that it is wrong for Christians to own or possess things in this world?
- But Jesus is not condemning possessions or ownership or even enjoying what God has provided you in life. Nor is He forbidding Christians to save and store up resources for future needs.
- The Bible commends this practice by using the example of the ant wisely working to gather food for the future (Proverbs 6:6-11). Neglecting providing for one’s family is tantamount to infidelity according to Paul (I Tim 5:8).
- Treasures are not necessarily evil in themselves. What Jesus was warning against is the improper value that we place on the treasures. It is that which so ties us to the world that we risk losing eternal life. It is our our affection to these things that give treasures wrong values.
4. The Treasures NOT to Treasure:
- Jesus warned against a preoccupation with anything that can be destroyed. We must not treasure anything that would not last.
-This is brought to light by Christ’s reference to moths, rust, and thieves. You see, in Bible times, wealth was stored and measured by how much literal commodities a person owned: garments, grain, and gold or precious metal—all of which good be lost.
- You may recall how Elisha's servant, Gehazi, wanted to make a profit when Naaman was cured of leprosy. So he asked Naaman for a talent of silver and two changes of garments, because that was substantial wealth (2 Kings 5:22).
- The third commodity they put their treasure into was gold or precious metal. But how do you hide it? You might keep it in your house, but a thief could break in and steal it
- The point Jesus is making in this verse is that wealth in the human realm is transitory. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you cannot guarantee that you will not lose your possessions.
-You can lose your wealth, talents and health overnight. The significant person in your life today (your idol) can dump you tomorrow.
- You must recognize earthly treasures in that light. They are transitory and passing
5. The Treasures to Treasure:
-The kind of treasure to treasure is determined by its ultimate destiny. Notice that Jesus explains only two destinies for our treasures: “on earth” and “in heaven.”
- The first one, “treasures on earth,” is centered on the earthly or that which finds its value only in relationship to the world. It points to the transitory, the things that will pass away.
- On the other hand,“treasures in heaven” cannot be affected by any act of sin or consequence of the fall. They point to those things that have a lasting value, that transcend the grave and remain forever.
- “The treasure laid up in heaven is imperishable. No fire or flood can destroy it, no thief despoil it, no moth or rust corrupt it; for it is in the keeping of God.
- The apostle Paul gives a clear explanation of the right kind of treasures in I Timothy 6:17-19: “Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous, laying up in store [apo-thesaurizo] for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
- The way to “lay up treasures in heaven” is to develop Christlike character (since all we can take with us to heaven is ourselves). “Character is the great harvest of life.
-Character development is enhanced by actively spending time in personal devotions—prayer and Bible study—so that we can increase in faith, hope and charity, all of which Paul said “abide” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
- Finally, “we lay up treasures in heaven” when we actively work towards the salvation of others, so that they too may inherit eternal life.
- The interesting thing is that the way to avoid treasuring up treasures upon the earth is to treasure up treasures in heaven by developing a Christlike character, maintaining a personal relationship with Christ through personal devotions, and witnessing.
6. The Heart Follows the Treasure:
- The most powerful reason that Jesus declares for storing up treasures in heaven is found in verse 21 of Matthew 6. He indicates that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
-The word “heart” is used for the whole inner man, the core of our total being, the wellspring of all we do.
- So when Jesus speaks of “where your treasure is” He means that the whole of our being is wrapped up in our treasures. Our hearts will be upon what we treasure most.
- In other words, where we invest our treasure will determine where we set our affections. It is not so much that our treasure follows our hearts as it is that our hearts follow our treasure.
-Where the treasure is there the value and esteem are, there the love and affection are (Col 3:2), that way the desires and pursuits go, thitherward the aims and intents are levelled, and all is done with that in view.
- In other words, what we invest in we are committed to. The things we treasure actually govern our lives.
-What we value occupies our minds and grips our emotions. It is the theme and content of our conversation.
-It consumes our time with planning, day-dreaming, and energy to achieve. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
7. Choose Your Treasures Wisely:
- When Jesus twice urges us to “lay up for yourselves treasures,” the reflexive pronoun (“yourselves”) implies a choice at the personal level. No one can make that choice for another; each one of us has to make it ourselves and be held accountable for it.
- There is no room for such excuses as: “I had no choice,” “I was forced against my will,” “I was born that way,” “the devil made me do it,” “my environment or genes made me do it,” and so on.
-For the Bible clearly teaches that we were all created as free moral agents and endowed with the power of choice (cf. Josh 24:15; John 14:15; Rev 22:17).
The decisive question is: What treasures are we choosing? Are we making efforts towards developing Christlike character?
- “The things we hold dear—our treasures—determine the amount of time, energy, and resources we devote to them. If we value our looks, education, grades, jobs, position, or relationships, those things become number one in our life.
-But if we value eternal life, then we shall spend a considerable amount of time with our Lord, lovingly serving Him as we develop His matchless character.”
- Character development is the way we treasure treasures in heaven. ThisMessage was an invitation to develop characters fit for heaven.
- It calls upon us to reconsider our priorities in life. It urges to give up that which is valuable to us (our earthly treasures) for what is most valuable in life “the treasures of heaven.”
-Jesus said it best: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).