Storing up treasures
Kevin Park | Bible Explorations
"True security is not found in money or possessions but with God." | Read: Matthew 6:19-21
We live in anxious times. We hear news filled with indications of national and global economic insecurity. Our natural response is to cling to that which we think will give us security. So we seek ways to increase our financial security through accumulation of wealth and things. The irony is that the activity of clinging and accumulating produces more anxiety, the very state we were seeking to be free from. In this passage from Matthew, Jesus teaches us that our security is not in our treasures but with God.
Pray: Matthew 6:33
“Strive first for the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Study: Our treasures and our hearts
Jesus teaches three things about treasures: (1) Everyone has them and stores them up somewhere. (2) We should store our treasures with God. (3) When we place our treasures with God, we place our hearts with God also.
That we have treasures is a fact. All of us have things that we value highly, that we long for, that our hearts cling to, that receive our devotion. Jesus takes this fact of treasures for granted and says that everyone stores them up either on earth or in heaven. The consequence of storing up our treasures on earth is that either through natural consequences (moth, rust) or through human causes (thieves) our treasures will be lost. But by storing up our treasures with God (in heaven), we save not only our treasures but our hearts as well.
Then Jesus teaches something profound about the relationship between our treasures and our hearts. Our hearts naturally attach themselves to that which we treasure. Our hearts are where our desire, longing, ambitions and investments are. Jesus does not say that treasures are wrong or bad in themselves. They are what they are, a fact of life. But where we place our treasures can be the difference between life and death. When we detach our treasures from God, they will go wrong and bad or disappear. When we place our treasures with God, our hearts will follow because the heart is attached to our treasures and will be with God also: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21). If we place our treasures with God, they will glorify God, and thus our security will come from God. In turn, our treasures will be in a proper, ordered relationship with God.
We use “heart” language a lot in prayer and in worship. What if we added “treasure” where we find “heart” in our prayers and liturgy where appropriate? “Lord, open our hearts and minds and our treasures by the power of the Holy Spirit,” “Draw our hearts and our treasures to you,” “We have not loved you with our whole hearts and with our treasures,” “Lift up your hearts and your treasures.” We may be deceiving ourselves if we think that we can easily detach our hearts from our treasures and offer them to God. Maybe the only way to offer our hearts to God is to offer our treasures.
Remember: Matthew 6:21
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Live: Practice simplicity
Living in a consumerist society like ours makes seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness difficult. It’s easier to seek all the other things first.
What does your heart cling to? Prayerfully confess your treasures to God. They may be good things like family, friends or church. They may also include things like money, investments or career. What will it mean for you to store these treasures with God? Name some communal or corporate treasures held by your family or church. What would it mean for the community to store these treasures with God?
One of the ways to practice storing up our treasures with God is to practice the Christian discipline of simplicity. In his classic book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster recommends buying things because they are useful, not because of their status or because they are promoted as the latest gadget. He suggests giving away things and borrowing rather than owning. He also suggests being cautious about buying things with credit and avoiding purchases that might become addictive. How can you adopt some of these principles in your life?