What Does It Mean to Store Up Treasure in Heaven?

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People are often surprised at how frequently Jesus talked about money. He didn’t shy away from poking at our most sensitive areas. We tend to find our comfort and security in riches and possessions-and Jesus consistently challenged this mindset.

He also used financial metaphors to teach spiritual truths. It makes perfect sense. Every area of our lives intersects in some way with our finances. And character traits like charity, dependability, integrity, responsibility, conscientiousness, and self-discipline are all revealed in the way we manage our finances.

Treasure in heaven?

During the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made the following statement:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Heaven doesn’t have any financial institutions where I can deposit funds. So what could He have possibly meant by this statement?

Jesus’ message focused mostly on two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. He wanted us to recognize that most of our decisions were made to benefit one of those kingdoms at the expense of the other.

What we need to recognize is that our default setting is not to serve the kingdom of God. Everything within us-and most of the messages we receive-prompt us to make short-term decisions that won’t offer any eternal benefit.

Becoming an investor

The author of Ecclesiastes instructs us about the vanity of wealth. He tells us that the person who loves money is never satisfied, and eventually they die and the wealth is just left for someone else to enjoy (Ecclesiastes 6:2). Jesus echoes this sentiment. The wealth we save up is temporary. Even if it’s not destroyed by time, it will eventually be taken from us.

But then Jesus tells us that we can invest our time and possessions in eternal things. When we become investors in the kingdom of heaven, we don’t have to worry about market volatility or losing our shirt when the economy crashes. Every investment we make in the kingdom will be accounted for and rewarded.

Throughout Jesus’ teaching and parables, he consistently uses reward as an incentive to encourage our devotion:

  • “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
  • “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
  • “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21).
  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
  • “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
  • “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).

Jesus encourages us to pursue riches. The question is: what kind of riches will we seek? Will we pursue wealth that only has value for this life-or will we have enough faith to invest in the kingdom of God?

The secret investor’s promise

When you spend $3,000 on new carpeting, you quickly become one of those households that encourages people to take their shoes off at the front door. Spending a lot of money on something tends to make you protective of it.

At the end of Jesus’ statement, He tells us that where our treasure is, our heart will be, too (Matthew 6:21). This is a common-sense statement about the nature of investing. We tend to be passionate about the areas where we devote our attention, time, and resources.

But if we’re wise, there’s a truth there we can exploit. Maybe you don’t feel particularly enthusiastic about the kingdom of God. But what if you could change that by simply becoming more invested? Instead of waiting to feel more passionate about eternal things, what if you poured yourself into those things. If what Jesus says is true, wouldn’t the natural byproduct be that you would become more passionate?

You need to consider your abilities, skills, time, talents, and money as valuable resources. How are you investing them? As the old saying goes, “you can’t take it with you.” But what if you could send it ahead?