Why should we not lay up treasures on earth? In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus is in the middle of His Sermon on the Mount and he is addressing us about our relationship to the treasures of this world. Not only does he give us this command, but because of his love for us, he does not simply command that we do it, but goes on to give us four reasons why.
First we are not to lay up treasures on earth, because they will not last. Moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in to steal. This truth that things will not last, is such common sense that everyone knows this, but yet often, they still master us. Even if we treasure the perfect physique or beautiful face, it will not be long before they age and fail to meet the world’s standards of beauty. If we are trusting in the things of this life to give us a hope and future, we will be sorely disappointed.
The second reason flows directly from the first. Due to our sinful nature, even though we know the things of this world will not last, we still love and chase after them. That is why Jesus says, “For where you treasure is, there you heart will be also.” We cannot love the things of this world and be pure in heart. Some may think that it is possible to have their hearts set on Jesus and chase riches, but Jesus is saying here that you chase what you love. James Montgomery Boice put it this way, “If a man’s treasure is on earth, his heart will be on earth also, and therefore things will rule him.” We are to “keep our life free from the love of money” (Heb. 13:5) for “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10). Do not pierce yourself with many pains chasing after them.
Reason number three then probes even deeper. Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eyes is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Jesus’ main point here is that, if you make this world and its riches your treasure, it will spread darkness throughout your entire life. Jesus is speaking in metaphor here. The eye represents our understanding and thinking. Do we really think that the things of this world are what we are to be living for? The body represents every other aspect of our life. If our understanding be darkened, so will everything else we do. For example, if our heart is set on the treasures of this world.
When we face trouble, we will not find comfort in our things.
When we make career choices, we will follow the money, not the Lord.
When we try to love our children, we will lavish them with things instead of spiritual direction.
We will cower to the world when it puts pressure on us to conform to its ways
When riches, health, skill, popularity, and power begin to fade, we will be left hopeless.
…and how great that darkness will be.
The fourth, and final reason, is that you cannot serve two masters. Martyn Lloyd Jones points that that Jesus did not simply say, “you should not serve both God and money,” nor did he say, “It would not be wise to serve both God and money.” He said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” Any attempt to serve the treasures of the world, and God, will lead to an eventual conflict. No matter how long we seem to be able to do it, eventually we will have to choose, and at that moment we will see who our true master is.
May we be people who seek first the kingdom of God, for then everything we need will be added. Perhaps God is using this short writing to wake us from our worldly stupor by calling us back home. Have we been living with our eyes set on the world but thinking we have it together because we can see God in our peripheral vision? If so, he is saying, “turn you eye upon me, and I will fill your entire life with light.” Live mindful of his presence this week. Place your main focus upon him. Study his Word, and draw near to him in prayer. In doing so, you will be laying up treasures in heaven that are imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for you. As Matthew Henry once said, “There are treasures in heaven, as sure as there are on this earth; and those in heaven are the only true treasures.”