Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
7) Matthew 6 - Treasure in Heaven
All that has preceded this section is sweet sentimentalism and unrealistic unless Jesus is able to remake men.
Jesus knows that He cannot leave man as he is, bombarded by contradictory ethics and driven by inward desires
and harassed by daily worries. Man must possess a moral principle that will rivet his attention on God, cause him to
reject worldly ideals and treasure heaven above all other joys. Further, Jesus knows that there are two persistent,
dangerous rivals to that one true objective that must command our undivided loyalty and efforts, two rivals which will
choke out His word every time: the worries of the world, the worries of life (Luke 8:14) and the deceitful
attractiveness of wealth (Matthew 13:22).
Jesus must destroy man's confidence in wealth as a genuine support, and, by building his confidence in the Father:
He must exterminate man's worry. Only thus can the Master hope to expect men to take the Kingdom of God
seriously and reach for the righteousness Jesus is requiring. Unless a man regards all earthly prizes as filth, he will
not be much interested in leaving them to follow Jesus.
These words (Matthew 6:19-34) must have sounded a wrong note in the ears of those Jews (Matthew 19:24-25,
Matthew 20:20-28, Luke 22:24). Far from seeing any danger in wealth and far from believing that, as a rule, it
promotes unrighteousness, the Jews tended to regard wealth as a Character-proof of the causal connection
between righteousness and riches (Luke 16:14, Luke 20:47). The Pharisees thought of themselves as the
unchallengeable special blessing for their carefulness in observing the Law.
The immediate connection with the preceding section (Matthew 6:1-18) is particularly enlightening, for there Jesus
warned against making the praise of men the end of our religious actions. Here He turns from His attack on man's
thinking too much of the praise of others to that self-deception which thinks too much of the riches of earth and
makes them the end of all his daily efforts.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth. What makes a man desire to hoard up the
treasures of earth? Basically, it is worry and insecurity, but covetousness plays an important role in this (Luke
12:13-21, 1st Timothy 6:5-10).
Do not be a fool and treasure what you cannot keep, what nature is bent on destroying and what the envy and
covetousness of others is planning to seize! A moth can ruin the most expensive garment laid up in a chest. Rust
consumes man's most precious items of metal. The word Jesus used which is translated rust (brosis) literally means
eating. Thus, the eating of it makes human food disappear, in the same way that the moth eats holes in fabrics.
Thieves break through (literally: dig through the sun-dried brick or mud walls of the house) and steal. In your greed
to lay up earthly treasures, do not forget the greed of others, who, despite all your precautions, are able to relieve
you of your possessions.
What is gold on earth is street paving material in heaven! What a fool is he who hoards mere sand and gravel.
Jesus puts forward the idea of reward is blessings of a spiritual nature. Another way of stating this might be:
"Consider heaven your treasure!" That is, a right view of that which really satisfies one's soul-the love of God and
the fellowship to be enjoyed with Him.
Laying up treasure in heaven is equivalent to being "rich toward God" and the opposite of "laying up treasure for
oneself" (Luke 12:21). Luke 12:33 suggest that money given in mercy to those who need it, even if it means great
personal sacrifice to do so, is the means of providing oneself with heavenly treasure.
Matthew 6:21 For where they treasure is, there will thy heart be also. Jesus seems to be using the word "heart"
here in the sense of one's affections. Nothing on earth really possesses permanent and objective value anyway, for
value is too often a relative, subjective judgment based upon some temporary usefulness or on some relative
necessity. This declaration of Jesus becomes a grave warning: "Choose your treasure well, because, for good or
ill, it will take your heart with it!" Remember Lot's wife (Luke 17:32-33, Genesis 19:12-26).
Does Jesus intend these "treasures in heaven" to be:
1) The cause, the stimulation or the inducement for our work, or
2) The result or product of our earthly work? That is, are they something we produce or receive?
Does He mean that we produce character by following His instructions, and thus produce a treasure that is eternal?
Or, is He insisting that we keep our eyes fixed on heaven as our goal or treasure, thus producing a character that is
capable of enjoying the wealth of God?
The Apostles (Colossians 3:1-3, 2nd Peter 1:3-4) seem to suggest that by diverting all our interest toward where
Christ is, we will the more readily become like Him. And if the treasures we seek as the result of our work are
spiritual goals, then they can also be the rewards for our service. So it is both, for Jesus reveals that a spiritual,
godly character, by definition, is one, which cherishes God above all earthly, treasures, and reciprocally grows more
and more like Him.
Here are some critical questions about our ideas about wealth:
1) What does a man consider to be his true wealth?
2) How much does he think it is worth?
3) Whose does he think it is?
4) Can he live without it?
Here are some tests to determine our attachment to this earth:
5) Am I strongly resolved to become comfortably wealthy?
6) Am I in a hurry to be that way?
7) Do I regard my neighbor's thriving prosperity with envy?
8) Am I satisfied with my financial position? Why?