Freedom to Store up Treasures in Heaven by Pastor Paul
Brothers and Sisters,
My family and I have been cared for abundantly by many at New Life in our transition from Louisville to Dresser. So many of you have labored in prayer for us and provided food and other gifts. I can’t help but praise God for using you all to bless us in these ways. Please know that the greater blessing is to you who have given, “for it is better to give than receive.”
In fact, Jesus commands us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth…but store up treasures in heaven.” What exactly is storing up treasure in heaven? It is a lifestyle of sacrificially giving of your time, energy, and resources for the sake of the Gospel and the needs of the body of Christ. This sacrificial giving should be done prayerfully and joyfully. Jesus is not flattered by large donations or sacrifices. It must be done out of joy and in genuine love for what Jesus has done for you. I have had the privilege of meeting many of you at New Life and have been deeply encouraged by hearing so many examples of how you obey this command out of love for the body of Christ and for those who don’t know Jesus. This love is clearly motivated by your love for Jesus and desire to make him known. This is how we sow into the kingdom of God and store up treasure in heaven.
It’s interesting that God rewards us for giving of ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. He certainly does not have to, but he promises that we will receive treasure in heaven. I want to make sure this point is not misunderstood. Storing up treasure in heaven is not earning or keeping our salvation. Jesus paid our debt once and for all for those who believe and grants us eternal life. As believers in the Lord Jesus, we live for a kingdom that cannot be shaken and will not fade, rust, or be destroyed. The world we live in now will fade away, but the kingdom we are a part of is being established as Christ grows his Church. He will one day come again to judge the world and lay bare all things hidden and bring into existence a new heavens and earth. This is where we are laboring to store treasure: this coming kingdom, a kingdom of righteousness.
Why then is it still so hard for us to give of ourselves for this task? I think Matthew gives three reasons in Matthew 6:22-24. One reason a person is not able to store treasure in heaven is that their eye (also translated “heart”) is full of darkness. A person who does not believe in Jesus cannot store treasure in heaven because he is not a part of God’s kingdom. Even an extremely generous unbeliever has no credit to their account before God since their giving is not done out of a new heart. One must first be born again, being brought into the kingdom by faith in Jesus.
Secondly, (verse 24) as Christians we can only have one master, our Lord Jesus. We cannot serve both Jesus and money. If we serve money, we worship money; if we serve Jesus, we worship Jesus. Having and earning a good wage is good and right to desire, but it must not be motivated by selfish gain but rather by a genuine desire to sow it back into the kingdom.
The third reason (verses 25-34) why it is hard to “store up treasures in heaven” is because we allow anxiety to rule our hearts. Jesus knew in this teaching that we will be prone to anxiety as we give and serve sacrificially for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus gives a command by saying “do not be anxious about your life.” He is not saying do not feel anxious, rather do not be anxious or allow anxiety to rule your heart. When we feel anxious we need to take the thought captive and bring it before Jesus in prayer.
Jesus gives us a way to help us process anxiety. He gives 2 examples. First, we should look at the birds. They do not worry about what they will eat or where they will find food. Another example is to consider the lilies of the field. Go outside and examine a flower. Look at how intricately woven together all the parts of the flower are and take notice of its adornment of color and beauty. If God so chooses to clothe a simple flower that is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will God provide you with clothing? Are you not more valuable to God than a flower or a bird? The answer is YES you are! God knows our needs, and we ought not to worry when we give sacrificially of our time, money, and energy. You have already been freed from slavery to this world, so live for the kingdom of heaven and God promises to provide for your needs.
If you are not already, prayerfully consider how you can be serving and giving so that others might know Jesus more.