LAYING UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!” [Matt 6:19-21]
The vast majority of our fellows make it their supreme aim in life to acquire as much as possible of worldly wealth. With such an example on every side, and the trend of their own hearts in the same direction, the disciples of Christ are in greater danger from this sin than from most others. To nullify this evil tendency Christ here emphasizes the relative valuelessness of mundane things. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle” (Prov. 23:5).
What true satisfaction can there be in the possession of things which are subject to decay and loss by violence. One of the strongest proofs of human depravity and of the diseased state of our minds is the extreme difficulty which most of us experience in the realizing of this fact in such a way that it really influences our actions.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (v. 20). Having shown what we must NOT do in respect of treasures here on earth, and knowing his inclination to be such that man will needs have something for his treasure, Christ here makes known what treasure we MAY lay up for ourselves. But how shall we lay up treasure in heaven? For we cannot of ourselves come there. No man can save himself: THE BEGINNING, PROGRESS AND END OF OUR SALVATION IS WHOLLY OF GOD. Answer: as often in Scripture, the work of the efficient cause is here ascribed to the instrument (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Tim. 4:16).
TO MAKE US RICH WITH HEAVENLY TREASURE IS THE WORK OF GOD ALONE, yet because we are instrumental by His grace in the use of means to get this treasure, this command is given to us as though the work is solely ours, though God be alone the Author of it.
It is of the very first moment that we form a true estimate of what is necessary for true happiness-where it is to be found and how it is to be obtained-for the tenor of our thoughts, the direction of our affections, and the pursuit of our energies will largely be regulated thereby. Therefore does Christ here bid us, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” That we may the better understand and practice this command two points are to be carefully and reverently considered: what this treasure is, and how a man may lay it up for himself-matters of the greatest weight, for in the practice thereof lies our salvation. As to the real treasure, which neither time nor the creature can mar, it is the true and living God, the triune Jehovah who made and governs all things: in Him alone is all genuine good and happiness to be found.
This is clear from such scriptures as the Lord’s statement to Abraham, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1); the words of Eliphaz to Job, “The Almighty shall be thy gold” (22:25, margin); and the declaration of David: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance . . . I have a goodly heritage”-i.e. He is my treasure (Ps. 16:5, 6). Yet let it be said emphatically that it is God as He is revealed IN CHRIST who is our Treasure, for out of Christ He is “a consuming fire.” God incarnate is our true treasure, for in Him are hid “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3); our very life is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). To what is the apostle there referring? Why, as the previous verse shows, to that which God has treasured up for His people in a crucified Christ: the Lord Jesus is the great Fountain and Storehouse of all true blessings communicated from God to the saints, and therefore do they exclaim, “Of His fullness [as out of a rich treasure] have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Wouldest thou have remission of sins and righteousness with God? Then Christ was “made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Wouldest thou have everlasting well-being? Then Christ Himself is “the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Whatever thou needest – wisdom to direct, strength to energize, comfort to assuage grief, cleansing for defilement-all is to be found in the Saviour.
HOW may we lay up for ourselves in heaven the Divine and durable riches which are to be found in Christ? First, by faith’s appropriation: “as many as RECEIVED Him” (John 1:12)-so that I can say “my Beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Sol. 2:16). God in Christ becomes our everlasting portion when we surrender to and accept Him as He is offered to us in the Gospel. Second, by daily communion with Christ, drawing from His “unsearchable riches” (Eph. 3:8). “Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). And what was that “good part”? Why, to sit at His feet and drink in His word (v. 39).
Third, by emulating the example which Christ has left us. And what did that example consist of? Why, complete self-abnegation, living wholly in subjection to God-for which He was richly rewarded (see Phil. 2:5-11). Fourth, by acting as His stewards and using the goods He has entrusted to us by laying them out to His glory (see Luke 12:33; Heb. 6:10, etc.).
Almost all will say they hope for happiness from God in the next world, but what do they NOW make their chief good? What are they most taken up with, both in the pursuit and enjoyment? It is at this point each of us must examine and test himself. What things does my soul most favour and relish, the things of the world or of God (see Rom. 8:5)? Which seasons of time do I regard as lost or as most gainful, which are my days of richest income? Of the Sabbath the wicked ask, “When will it be gone”? But the healthy saint declares, “A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand” (Ps. 84:10) – because of the spiritual gains it brings in. What is dearest to my heart, what engages my most serious thoughts? This determines which I prize the more highly: earthly or heavenly treasures.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count ALL THINGS but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ!” [Phil 3:7,8]