December 29, 2019 How to Lay Up Treasure in Heaven

How to Lay Up Treasure in Heaven

Scripture reading:

“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. 1 (Mt 6:19–21)

These are the words of our Lord Jesus. We must take them to heart and we must apply them to our lives. Woe to us if we pay them little attention or if we ignore them.

Our Lord commands, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Is this to be taken in an absolute sense? In other words, are we told not to have a savings account, not to have a retirement account, not to buy stock, not to accumulate gold or silver (Precious metals are a good investment, we are told.), for those are all treasures? Some have taken it this way. But, the Lord did not mean this in an absolute sense. We know this from some of his other teachings.

In fact, just a few verses later – in verse 24, he continues teaching on this subject:

“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. 2

Our Lord is contrasting God and money. It is a matter of who or what we put first. Our “master” is the one to whom we give priority and allegiance. Is it God? Or, is it money? God must come first and not just in words. God must come first in reality. There are those who name the name of Christ and put money first, when it comes to their everyday living. This is what Jesus warns against. But note that, even if a person does put God first, that person still uses money. Hence, serving one (God) does not entail the absence of the other (money). It means we do not allow money and its accumulation to dictate our lives. If we allow that, then money has become our master.

Do you want to know how you can tell who your master is? It is not by your feelings. If you belong to God already then you will have good feelings at even the thought of God. And, although you may desire more money (just about everyone does, saint and sinner alike), you may not have feelings that are that strong for money. You just know that money can be used to get you other things, so you would like a little more. We do not assess who our master is by our feelings. The best way to determine who is your master is by where you spend your time. Do you spend more time seeking the face of God or do you spend more time making money? I am not referring to our daily work. The Bible teaches that we all must toil “under the sun” just to meet our daily needs and deal with the results of the curse. The vast majority of people have to work 8 hours or more per day3. When I ask about how we spend our time, I mean our time after our daily job is done (or after our school day is done, if we are still in a school).

In the gospel of Luke, when Jesus was teaching on this very subject, serving God rather than money, he said this:

And Jesus went on to say, “And so I tell you: make friends for yourselves with worldly wealth, so that when it gives out, you will be welcomed in the eternal home. 10Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones. 11If, then, you have not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can you be trusted with true wealth? 4

We should use worldly wealth, i.e., money, to build friendships. And, we should be faithful with the wealth that we have so that we can receive what is true wealth.

From these teachings it becomes obvious that when our Lord says not to lay up treasures on earth, he doesn’t mean absolutely. He means that we should not put our hope our confidence in earthly wealth, nor should wealth be our focus. Rather, we should lay up treasures in heaven. We must spend more time and energy laying up treasures in heaven than treasures on earth.

We are commanded to lay up treasures in heaven. Our earthly savings and treasures will do us no good in the next phase of our living. Only the treasures we have laid up in heaven will count.

Let me ask you a question. Do you want to have regrets? I don’t like having regrets. You regret something when you know you could have made better choices. As you know Josie has left us and I have regrets. I believe that I treated her very well in this life. The Lord will let me know when I see Him. But, do you know what? I could have treated her better. I regret that I didn’t buy her more gifts. I regret that I didn’t express my appreciation to her more often for all the things that she did for our family. Regrets are not good.

As important as a marriage is, our relationship with the Lord is more important. It is one thing to have regrets about our marriage or our parenting, but it is quite another to have regrets about how we lived for the Lord. I don’t want to have regrets at the Judgment Seat. I don’t want you to have regrets at the Judgment Seat.

Listen, if we do not lay up many treasures in heaven, we will have regrets. I want you all to lay up treasures in heaven. I do not want you to have regrets. I am going to reveal how to lay up treasures in heaven. There are actually many ways that we can do this. There are more than four ways. This morning I am only going to reveal four ways that we can lay up treasures in heaven. The first two ways I am only going to briefly mention and I will emphasize the last two ways.

[1.] Right after Jesus says that you cannot serve God and money in Matthew 6:24, he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not ne anxious about your life (vs. 25).” The word, “therefore,” means that if we put God first we won’t be anxious. He then concludes his word against anxiety with these words:

 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 5

The first way we lay up treasures in heaven is by seeking the kingdom of God and seeking his righteousness. I believe this refers to the personal righteousness he bestows upon his followers as they seek Him. In other words, as we seek sanctification – fleeing from sin and being conformed to the image of Christ – we will be laying up treasures. This includes the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives. As we realize kindness, gentleness, patience, and the many other virtues that we are called to possess, then a treasure is also growing in heaven. 

I have taught a great deal about sanctification, even recently6, so that is all that needs to be said. 

[2.] The second way is by works of mercy, that is, caring for the less fortunate.

when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7

This reward that we will receive is our treasure. The treasure is the reward and reward is the treasure! They are simply two words for the same thing. But, see that the reward is for giving to the needy. God cares about the poor. This is a frequent theme throughout the Bible. If you do not care about the poor you are simply not in line with revelation. And, your heart is not in line with God’s heart.

Do you know, except for the grace of God, that needy person that you see could be you? Actually, it should be you! It is only God’s unmerited favor on you that you are not in a far lesser position in life. That thought has helped me care for the poor.

It is not just the poor. A person of just average income can enter into a time of great need because of unusual circumstances in life. And so, Jesus also revealed that there is a genuine reward awaiting those who help others, especially helping those who follow Christ. 

 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 8

We ought to help all who are in need, whether or not they follow Christ. We ought to help even our enemies (Luke 6:35-36). But there is a special reward (treasure) when we help our fellow follower of the Lord.

I am going to say little about this way to lay up treasure in heaven because New Salem Church, I think, is doing well in this area. We have the product pantry, which seeks to help the less fortunate in our community. We have several in our church that volunteer in this vital ministry. If you are looking for a way to help the needy then see Ms. Evelyn.

[3.] The third way to lay up treasure in heaven is by proclaiming the gospel.

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 9

When Jesus says, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest,” he is talking about people who are ready to leave their sins behind and believe the good news. When he talks about “the one who reaps,” he means the one who speaks and then the one that they are talking to becomes a follower of the Lord Jesus. When he mentions “the one who sows,” he means the one who first talks about the reality of sin and the need of the gospel. Often, when you sow, you will see no results. The one who comes after you will. If you do see results, it is often because someone went before you.

When he speaks of “receiving wages,” he is talking about cashing in your treasure on that great day. As we share the gospel, or even simply sow seed so that others may reap, then we are laying up treasure in heaven.

Oh, brothers and sisters! We need to stop being cowards! Open your mouths and speak the truth of God to your co-workers and your neighbors! Lives are at stake! Don’t throw your treasure out the window, lay it up in heaven. We do this by speaking the truth of God to others, especially the gospel.

[4.] The last way is by the giving of money to the Lord’s work on earth.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work10

The context of 2 Corinthians 9 is the giving of money for the church in Jerusalem. So, when Paul refers to sowing and reaping he is speaking of sowing money and reaping money. The sowing is in this life, but the reaping is split between the present (this life) and the future (the next age). Reaping begins now but much of it will be seen when we cash in our treasure at the Judgment Seat.

I tell you, when you give to the Lord’s work you are laying up treasure in heaven. It is true. Every ten dollars you give is building up a treasure – your treasure! We should all be giving at the very least, ten percent of our gross income. But please do not limit yourself. Do not lay up less treasure. Lay up more treasure. If you give more than ten percent you will see it grow in the heavens. You will not actually see it until you get there. But you will see it.

When we give, God will “make all grace abound” to us! It is simply a fact that the more we give the more God’s grace abounds to us. Why? It is not because of a quid pro quo (we’ve been hearing that expression a lot lately). It is not as if you give money and then simply because you give monetary gifts then God’s grace comes in greater measure. No. It is because when you give cheerfully (vs. 7) this reflects something about your heart. It expresses your love for the Lord and his work in a tangible way…not just by some vague feeling. Because you express love for the Lord tangibly, the Lord will shed his grace upon you tangibly! This is what Paul is saying.

[5.] All that is left to encourage you with is the final words of our Lord in our passage.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 11

There is another wonderful benefit of building your treasure in heaven. The more you invest in heaven the more your heart inclined towards heaven. The more you give of your time and money into the kingdom, the more you love the kingdom of God. If your heart is not where you want it to be then one thing you can begin to do is to start laying up treasure in heaven right now. Give more of your time, more of your words, and more of your monetary success to the kingdom. You will find that you love God and His kingdom more and more! This is God’s blessing. We can have a small role in changing our own hearts.

{Conclusion] The Lord has told us to lay up treasure in heaven. We can do this. We should do this, by:

* Seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness above all else.
* By caring for the poor and those in need, especially in the household of faith.
* By sowing the seed, that is, by speaking the gospel. Stop being silent.
* And, by giving of our means for the Lord’s work on earth.

We can all do these four things because he has given us the Spirit as a pledge. We have the Spirit, so we have the power to do these things. All he is asking us is for a very small amount of cooperation. We only need to take the smallest steps in these four matters and the Spirit will make them happen. 

Don’t neglect these things! When you stand before the Lord, let your life be without regrets. Amen.

 

 

1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:19–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
2 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
3 This refers to the average person. There are people who are too sick or too enfeebled to work, there are those who have received an inheritance, there are some who have made wise investments which bring in income, and some are retired. But, except for the first group, even these should do some work. We were created to work and we find fulfillment when we do.
4 American Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good news Translation (2nd ed., Lk 16:9–11). New York: American Bible Society.
5 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:33). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
6 See http://nsbcwinfield.com/november_17_2019_righteousness_is_a__necessity and http://nsbcwinfield.com/december_8_2019_the_means_of_sanctification_

7 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:2–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
8 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 9:41). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
9 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 4:35–38). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
10 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 9:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
11 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.