What are the treasures that Jesus said we should not lay up on this earth?
Hi, welcome to today’s little lesson. Regular viewers know we’ve been working our way through the Sermon on the Mount, we’re coming into the 19th verse today of Matthew, Chapter Six, a very key verse, one I think, well, it’s often ignored and we ought not to ignore anything that Jesus said, so let’s read it and then let’s try to answer the question that we’ve asked.
In Matthew Six, number 19, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” But, contrariwise, but store up your treasure in heaven, and why? Because neither moth nor rust destroys there and thieves do not break in and steal there. So Jesus is contrasting two places where we can put our treasure; in heaven or on the earth. And he’s advocating that it’s much better, much wiser, to lay up our treasure in heaven than on the earth, why? Because we risk losing it on the earth and once it’s in heaven there’s no risk of losing it.
Now some people, they imagine Jesus giving this sermon with this stern look on his face and wagging his finger at people, but I don’t know. I just imagine Jesus being a little more gracious and merciful than what some people do. And he didn’t have to give us any reason, if he just wants to be the stern dictator he doesn’t have to give us any reason, he just says, “Don’t lay up your treasures on this earth, lay it up in heaven.” And that would have been enough. But he gives us a reason. And so that shows me that he’s having mercy on us, he’s trying to persuade us to see and understand why it makes more sense to lay up treasure in heaven rather than on earth.
Okay, so now what are these treasures? Are they only things that we treasure, as some people teach, in our hearts? So as long as you don’t treasure it and you hold it loosely, all these Christian cliches that are doublespeak that you so often hear, is that what he’s saying? No, no, no. A treasure, he said, well he gave us some definition here; a treasure could be something that a moth consumes. Well the only thing that moths consume that people own, and that of course doesn’t really happen much anymore in the developed world, is clothing.
And James, in his Epistle, said, “Woe to you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you for your riches have rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten.” So back in the day, when we had to worry about moths eating our clothing because we didn’t have the modern day synthetic fabrics and we used mothballs, we didn’t put mothballs in our regular closets, we put mothballs in the trunks and in the garment bags in our attics. Why? Because we were trying to keep the clothing that we never or rarely or seasonally wore from being eaten by moths during the time that we’re not wearing it. Moths don’t eat the clothing that you’re wearing every day, they don’t have a chance, they don’t stand a chance. But put your clothing away in a closet and that implies that, perhaps, you’ve got more than you really need. And so the moths are gonna get it and you could have given away that coat. As John the Baptist said, “Whoever has two coats, let them share with him who has none.” You could have given away that coat and it would be up there in heaven and you’d have a treasure waiting for you up there. But no, you wanted two coats and your second coat got eaten by moths and no chance then. You took the risk and you lost.
So you can see that Jesus didn’t define exact items, he’s talking about where rust consumes. Well, rust doesn’t consume the tool that the carpenter uses every day because he takes care of it, right? Right. Rust doesn’t consume the stuff that you use every day, it consumes the stuff that’s down in your damp basement and over in your garage and so forth, maybe up in your attic or out in your yard or behind the woodpile. And we all know what I’m talking about here; the things that we don’t ever use or use rarely, those are the things that are apt to rust. And so that doesn’t mean that no farmer should own a tractor, again, there’s a balance in all of this and we need to see the reason behind it. We want to lay up as little treasure on the earth as necessary and lay up as much treasure as we can in heaven as possible because then we eliminate all the risk.
And isn’t that what happens so much to the stuff that we own? I think if Jesus were here today he wouldn’t have used these exact examples because we don’t have such trouble with rust and moths these days and even much trouble with thieves in many parts of the world, but he might say something like, “Don’t lay up your treasures on this earth where the stock market can fall by 10% in one day”, you know, something like that.
I once heard a preacher talking about a church where he pastored, a big city, and everyday to drive to work he had to drive past this wrecking yard where they brought old automobiles, junk automobiles, and he watched them as he’d sit at a stoplight and this crusher would crush these things into cubes, just all the metal, and then a magnet would lift up that cube and put it in a pile. And he said, “It just occurred to me that all of those crushed cubes, at one time, were shiny new cars that people drove home from the dealership, so proud to drive and taking such good care of it and buffing it and waxing it and washing it, like we all do with our cars, those of that have cars. But look at the end, look at the end, it just gives you a different perspective and there are things that we can do, we can all do, to try to get our pile smaller on the earth to get the biggest possible pile of treasure in heaven.” And I don’t know what treasure in heaven actually looks like, that’s beyond my pay grade I’m sure, but Jesus is telling us here, eliminate the risk of losing something.
It was Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” And I think probably he was reading Matthew Six, 19 when he penned those words because that’s full of a lot of wisdom. Okay, we’ll talk a little more about this on our next little lesson. Thank you so much for joining me. God bless you-