Lesson Eight • Laying up Treasures in Heaven
Devotion 2: Results of Earthly Treasures
Pastor John Carter
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19
Yesterday, we talked about the disruptions of God. Get ready to be disrupted, church. We are going to hit some of the very real and uncomfortable things we, as the American Church, have fallen prey to. We do not like this kind of disruption. If I am being honest, this is a very uncomfortable devotion to write for me. I do not like talking about this subject. I would rather not discuss it. God does not let me just hide and not deal with things that need to be dealt with. I hope as we walk through these next few days, you will know my heart. It is not my desire to “punch you in the face.” It is to bring to light what Jesus is teaching. In that process, it may feel like a “punch.” I am feeling it, too.
The initial statement Jesus makes in this teaching is this idea of treasures, specifically “treasures on earth.” Another way to say it might be earthly treasures. What are your earthly treasures? Can you take just a few seconds and determine what you would consider to be your treasure? I love how Jesus helps us identify what our treasures might be. What do you fear losing the most? What are you most afraid of being stolen or destroyed? This identification process can often help us point to what we treasure.
I remember doing a construction project for a man back when I used to swing a hammer. He was a very wealthy man. He lived in a very large house with a very large barn out in front. My work was predominately at the house so I never ventured to the barn. One day I asked him, “Why is your barn so big? What do you keep in there?” I was absolutely blown away by his response. He started to tell me it was where he would keep his cars and airplanes. He said he had another warehouse full of cars and planes in another city. The fact that he had planes and cars was not the part that blew me away. He proceeded to tell me how he had the building completely secured both in environmental and theft prevention aspects. He then made the following statement, “Not even God can get my cars and planes wet.” I share this story not to make you disparage this man, but to help you see a man who treasured earthly things. What are the things you treasure? What are the things that you claim as your own? What are the things in your life that, “Not even God can get to?” Maybe a nicer way of saying it would be, what are some things in your life that God cannot disrupt? These things are often the things we treasure and value the most.
Paul teaches a young pastor some incredible things in the book of 1 Timothy. One of those things has to do with riches, wealth, and money. In 1 Timothy 6:8-10, he writes, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Here, we see Paul expounding on the earthly treasures. He establishes that those who desire to be rich (desire earthly treasures) will fall into a temptation, that is, “a snare.” It is senseless and harmful. It will lead to ruin and destruction. This love for wealth, money, or earthly treasure is at the root of all kinds of evil done by those who desire it. He even goes on to explain that it is the source of wandering away from the faith, or nearness of God. The result is that by the pursuit of this desire, the craving leads to many pangs. Pangs are intense anxiety, anguish, grief, and pain. This is the outcome of focusing on earthly treasures.
If you think through all of this, you can understand why this is the result that follows when we value earthly things. All earthly treasures have an expiration date. They rust even if they are put in perfect environments. They can be stolen or damaged. Have you ever been to someone’s house that was super protective of all their trinkets that are laid out all over the home for others to see? It can be funny to see the stress they go through trying to protect their items, especially if you brought kids with you. They want to have a good time and fellowship with you, but their mind is so overwhelmed by the need to protect their treasures they cannot rest or enjoy the company that is in front of them. Often times, this is another way we can identify what our treasure is – we want to show it off to other people.
Do you feel disrupted yet? I know I do! I do not want to leave it here as my goal is not to destroy but to build up. Continue reading 1 Timothy and you will see the amazing work of Jesus. In 1 Timothy 6:13-16, there is praise and honor that is bestowed upon Jesus by Paul, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time – he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
Paul then continues his discussion on how the rich are to respond with their riches. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul shows how not to hold onto these earthly treasures, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
Here we are introduced to the pitfalls of those who trust in their riches rather than trusting in God. When the reliance on our earthly treasures takes over, we tend to get arrogant and prideful. We think that our treasures are what our hope is in. We trust in the security of wealth instead of the security of God. If you are a big “Lord of the Rings” watcher, I imagine you can envision the character, Gollum, as he hangs on to his “precious.”
Paul does not just stop with the warnings, but he leans into the things the rich are to do with the wealth God has allowed them to have. They are to do good with it. They are to be generous and “to be rich in good works.” Paul continues by laying down some serious heavenly financial planning. He talks about laying down a good foundation for the future by storing up treasures for Heaven. Tomorrow, we will walk through heavenly treasures. Paul is saying the same thing Jesus did in Matthew chapter 6, there are two ways to go about the things we call treasure. One way results in leading to trouble, evil, harm, and serious difficulties. The other leads to that which is truly life. I would like to choose the latter over the first.
Today, let God disrupt your earthly treasures. Lean on Him to point them out and really work through in your heart what you are holding onto. God wants to show you a way that leads to an incredible life.