Treasures in Heaven: What We Get Wrong and Why it Matters

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In one of the most oft-repeated memory verses, we are told not to be obsessed with earthly treasure, but heavenly treasure instead. And while it is as true as can be, how we often see and interpret it sometimes misses the very point it makes.

The first part of the passage is the most plain and obvious: Do not put your focus on things that are materially valuable. Gold, fine clothes, luxurious consumption, any of it. Rather, store up this other stuff, this Heaven stuff.

But was that mean?

See, in the passage, Jesus refers to treasures in heaven. Now, if we don’t get into what that is, we might think that there are simply the same kinds of treasures as here on earth, just sitting up in Heaven. In that case, oh, I get it, the gold here can be stolen, but the gold in Heaven, though the same kind of gold, is in a more special safe where it can’t be stolen. But the treasures of Heaven, because they are in Heaven, are not even the same kind of treasures.

The passage is not telling us that treasures in Heaven are a financial investment. They’re a different kind of investment altogether. We can’t afford to be wrong about this. They don’t act like physical things, and they don’t increase or decrease in value in the manner that material things do. Unlike money, they aren’t used for buying and selling. In fact, the only reason to compare them to earthly treasures is because they’re the thing that should actually be treated like true treasure. It is precisely because they are of far more valuable that we should protect them. But don’t expect to use them in the same way.

If it can’t corrode, it’s not traditional treasure.

We sometimes make this mistake, however. When Jesus says “I am preparing a place of dwelling for you,” we interpret it as a mansion and imagine that we will each have some giant gold and marble house all to ourselves when we die. But that’s not what God has in mind, as cool as it sounds. If you’re with God, you won’t care what your abode is made of anyway.

It’s about your heart. See, normal treasure you store in some safe location, a deposit box or secure vault. But with heavenly treasure, we don’t do that. We don’t just shove it in a box until we might need it. We keep it in our heart. Because that’s precisely where the things we value the most migrate to. Therefore, spiritual treasures, heavenly treasure, should not be seen as something that merely sits in a box until Jesus calls us home. It has value eternally, and that includes the now.

Viewing the “treasures of Heaven” more as treasures than as things of Heaven can have dire consequences on our faith:

  1. You will contribute on a more you-centered budget.
    Viewing any resource you give as a personal investment, you might start to think of yourself as buying your way to Heaven.

  2. You will be a passive participator.
    When you were baptized, you made your deposit. And you give money every Sunday. So now we just sit and wait for that reward.

  3. Your faith will become more works-based.
    As with giving money, you’ll view your works as a thing you’re doing to get more of that Heaven treasure. The grace of God will motivate you less, and a personal reward will motivate you more.

  4. Your relationship with God will be less of a relationship.
    After all, you’ll see him eventually. That ticket to Heaven is stored in a spiritual vault somewhere.

  5. You’ll have a messed up eschatology of the earth.
    Nothing on earth must be of any value, not even the forests and clean water and air.
    You’ve got an insurance plan for your stuff in Heaven, so we can trash the earth here.

These attitudes of the heart do not make for good stewardship. We’ve got to understand that Heavenly things are Heavenly things, not just earth things plus.

When we give of our money, time, energy, and other resources, we’ve got to be giving out of love. We need to be active participants who show that we have our heavenly treasure accessible in the here and now. Our faith is Grace-based, and that Grace comes from God, whom we need a personal relationship with. Our relationship with him is not just some transaction. It must be alive and breathing. And that Heaven we’re putting our treasures in will one day touch the earth again. The corrupt nature of valuable things on this earth will pass, but not the new creation.

The author of Hebrews considered “the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt.” We would be well doing the same. Store those Heavenly treasures in the safest place for them: your heart.

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