Where Is Your Treasure?

The current situation makes you ask how important your health is. As the stock market gyrates, you are prompted to ask how important your investments and retirement are. In Matthew 6:19–24 Jesus gives you a reality check, making you look at what is even more important. Being a citizen of the kingdom affects not only your worship (alms-giving, prayer and fasting) but also the way you live your daily life.

Put your treasure where your heart is. Earthly treasures decay. Your possessions here on earth are vulnerable. Moths may eat clothes and wool carpets, fine metal objects may tarnish and rust, and thieves may steal what you have. You may save money, only to have it evaporate in a stock market crash, or see it eaten up by inflation. Jesus is not condemning saving and stewardship (as Christians we are future oriented instead of living just for the moment), but he is warning against making your possessions the focus of your life. It is not only the wealthy who are subject to this temptation. It tugs at any of us who would like more wealth, more things, more fun, than we have.

Store up treasures in heaven. Look beyond this world to heaven. That has to give the focus to your daily life. Consciously focus on fellowship with your God and your service of him. The time and effort invested in his kingdom are not subject to the corruption of this world. The Christian life involves a tension: You live in this world, but your citizenship is in heaven. You may have many good things. They are God’s gifts, and you can and should enjoy them with gratitude. At the same time, the focus of your life must not be here. You are a pilgrim in this world, looking for a better one to come, Hebrews 11:13–16. Storing up treasures in heaven includes bringing the Lord his tithe of you money and giving him of your time. But it also involves living each moment of your life for his glory, rather than for yourself and your things. By the kingdom of heaven Jesus has in mind not just the intermediate state, as wonderful as that is. He is looking beyond that to the day of resurrection, to your life in the new heavens and earth. Your life in heaven will be a continuation of your present citizenship in God’s kingdom. Prepare for it now!

Walk in the light. Beware of darkness. The eye is pictured as the organ that enlightens and guides the rest of the body. Sin has a deceptive, blinding power. If your eye is corrupted, the whole direction of your life will be askew.

Be sure that your eyes are good. Your eyes need to be good (or “single” as an older translation puts it), without corruption. A cataract can darken the lens of your eye, making it progressively more difficult to see, until it is surgically removed. Similarly, you can be blinded by the enticements and pressures of life in this world. Instead, focus on your Lord, and on his kingdom. Your heart, your vision, needs to be directed by him. The change Jesus is calling for is not superficial, but one that affects the very way you see things. It is a change that you cannot accomplish on your own. It is the result of God working in you.

Serve God! You cannot serve two masters. It is impossible for you to have a double allegiance. Just as an airplane captain and his first officer cannot both be fighting for the controls, you need to have a single master. Two things cannot both be most important in your life. Neutrality is impossible. You cannot be a servant of both God and money. Ultimately this is a choice between the kingdom of God and the world, between your Lord and self. “Where the love of God is absent, there an idolatrous love of the world and of self enters, and a positively offensive and hostile attitude towards God results. . . . Man is so necessarily bound to God in his inmost consciousness, that absolute indifference or neutrality are excluded.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church, p. 93).

Love and serve God. Your love and commitment to God is a reflection of, and depends on, what he has first done for you. He sent his own Son into this world to be your Savior. Your service has been bought with the price of the death of Jesus Christ. It all depends on God—but you are called to active service. “The kingdom of God is a gift granted by God according to his good pleasure (Matt. 11:26;16:17; 22:14; Luke 10:20; 12:32; 22:19), yet it is also a reward, a treasure in heaven, which has to be aggressively sought and gained by labor in the service of God (Matt. 5:20; 6:20; 19:21; 20:1ff.; and so forth).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 254). You can choose to serve self. You can focus on laying up treasures in this world. But you’re going to find yourself holding an empty bag. Real joy comes only from fellowship with God, trust in him, and submission to his will.

In these days of uncertainty, make the right choice. The consequences are eternal!

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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