“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through nor steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (KJV, Matt. 6:19-21).
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”
In the verse of the day, it must be stated at the outset that Jesus is concerned here with material wealth. It must also be stated that Jesus is coming against the practices of the Pharisees. Thus, Jesus was not coming against people outside of the religious Jewish circle of his day.
The Pharisees were highly religious people and were seen by the public as the elite. They were meticulous in their law-keeping – in fact, they even designed laws to safeguard them from breaking God’s law.
However, one of the common beliefs of the Pharisees is that God would bless His people with material wealth. As a result, the Pharisees were people who horded their money. In another portion of Scripture, Jesus can be seen as condemning the Pharisees for not caring for their parents in their old age because during this time, the Pharisees withheld their money from their parents and said that the money was given to the Lord’s work.
In essence, the Pharisees would lay up treasure on earth by hording their wealth. In actuality, Matthew 6:19-24 is a proper closing to what had already been said about the Pharisees earlier in chapter 6. Jesus had already stated that the Pharisees would give so that people could see, pray so that people could see, and fast so that people could see. Thus, they were seeking the praise of man rather than the heart of God. In many ways, the Pharisees had been storing up treasures on earth, so Jesus began a discussion regarding money.
“where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through nor steal”
Next, Jesus wanted to make clear that the storing up of money will never satisfy, nor will it last. Here, we see that the moth will come and eat it away, rust will cause it to decay, and thieves will come and steal. Simply put, money will not last. For one reason or another, money will come, and money will go, and when one dies, he cannot take it with him to heaven.
Money is for this life only and must never been seen as an end in itself. Nevertheless, the practice of the Pharisees is not far from home. Many Christians think much like that of the Pharisees and believe that God desires to bless them with wealth. Many Christians, upon gaining wealth, see no other use for it other than amassing more.
The Christian must never get trapped in this type of living.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
Jesus makes it clear that the Christian must seek to think about life with a heavenly mindset. The Christian must lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth. Jesus is not merely speaking figuratively. Instead, Jesus is concerned with heavenly rewards.
In Matthew 6:2 and 6:4, Jesus speaks of the way that the Pharisees would give in public to be seen by men. However, Jesus also tells of the way that the giving of the Christian is to be done in secret so that God will reward the Christian. In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus tells of the way that the Pharisees would pray in public to be seen and praised by man. Nevertheless, Jesus also tells of the way that when someone prays in secret to be seen by God, that same man will incur a heavenly reward. In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus tells of the way that the Pharisees would fast to be seen by men. However, Jesus also tells of the way that when the Christian fasts for the glory of God and to be seen by God alone, that same Christian will yet again receive a heavenly reward.
The Christian must recognize that his actions are being watched by God. God desires to reward the Christian and bless the Christian here and throughout eternity.
“where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal”
When the Christian stores up for himself treasure in heaven, one thing can be certain: his reward will not decay, rot, or be stolen. In the book of Luke, a similar passage can be found. In this passage, Jesus touches upon the fear of man. Jesus calls his disciples a little flock and tells them not to fear (Luke 12:32). Why is this? It is because man’s natural tendency is to fear running out of money and not being able to provide for oneself and for his family.
The verse prior to Luke 12:32 consists of Jesus’ telling His disciples to seek the kingdom of God. Then, after Jesus tells his flock not to fear, He tells them that the Father desires to give them the kingdom of God. Thus we see that the Christian has a great inheritance coming his way, and he need not fear that he will not be taken care of by God in this life either.
Jesus also tells His disciples that they are to carry with them money bags that will never grow old and that in these money bags, there will be treasure that will not fail them and that will never encounter the moth or the thief.
Do you get it? When someone is generous to the Lord, and for the Lord, he will always carry with him great wealth in both this life and the life to come. God will honor someone when he is generous, and he need not fear because it is the Father’s desire to give him the kingdom.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
This last verse must be heeded. In it, Jesus gives us a strong reason for our giving. When the word “for” is used in Scripture, it must be recognized as revealing to us a reason for what has previously been said.
Jesus has already stated that we must not lay up treasure on earth, and He told us why. He then tells us to lay up treasure in heaven and ends by telling us why. But then, Jesus tells us that the reason for generous giving is not simply to incur a reward. Rather, we must recognize that generous giving transforms the heart of man.
If someone wants to grow in his love for the Lord, one of the ways to do so is to be generous with his money. God will honor his giving and will also change his heart in the process.
Father, I thank You for giving me so much. I pray that You would help me to give and even show me where to give. I know that I do not give as I ought to; please forgive me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.