Today, I would ask you to consider the question: Where are you spending yourself for that which does not profit? A close examination of where you expend the most energy, time and resources will reveal quickly what you prize the most. For some of us, this can be such a comfort as we look at our lives and see a steady trek on the road of faith that denies worldly lust and is progressively stirred by the Spirit to denounce what we see and hope in the promises of God. Yet, I am sure there are more than a few who read the following words of Christ completely unsettled as they look at what they are pursuing and find it unworthy of heaven’s keeping. In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus makes a direct correlation between the place of our treasure and the passion of our hearts.
Matthew 6:19-21,“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21
The place where we confidently entrust what is valuable to us speaks volumes of the depth of our trust in its security and permanency. More than that, it speaks of where our allegiance lies, and where our greatest hope is anchored. Christ in His mercy speaks to us clearly here in Matthew 6:19-24. This is not a hard saying to understand. Lasting riches are reserved in heaven for the sons of God, those indwelled with the Spirit and led by Him (Romans 8:14). All the earthly treasure you can gather here cannot be carried with you when you take your final breath. It is unworthy of God’s holy splendor. Not only will it pass, but those who seek its eternal reward will in return find the wrath of God (Colossians 3:6), and I write that with much sorrow. Jesus makes the great divide between His Kingdom and the world’s—one is eternal, and one is passing away. Does your life give evidence to faith in this reality?
As a teenager, materialism had a strong grip on my heart. I knew this and listened to every sermon on materialism I could get my hands on because I felt the unmistakable divide between flesh and Spirit, heaven and the world. Yet, I could not cause my heart to love Christ more or to treasure His glory supremely. My heart loved what it shouldn’t, trusted in transient treasures, and delighted in their beauty. In this very place, the gospel propelled holy passion for what was glorious, and little by little sinful love grew dim as I beheld true Beauty in Christ alone. The power of the gospel is real (1 Corinthians 1:18), the word of God is alive (Hebrews 5:12), and the glory of Christ is matchless (Mark 9:8). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Heaven holds a permanent, unfading inheritance for those who acknowledge that they are strangers and exiles here, and in speaking as such they “make it clear that they are seeking a homeland” (Hebrews 11:16), a far better country than this one here. Those who make the kingdom of this world home to their love and pursuit of possessions are considered to be “striving after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11), seeking satisfaction in all the wrong ways and will be left wanting.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” -Matthew 6:22-23
If the eye is the lamp of our body—what directs and leads—then we should take care of what our sights are set on. To the degree our sight is set on what is pure, to that same degree is our whole body pure, and vice versa. Set your eyes on the wealth of this world, and your feet will follow in hopes of acquiring it. A great example of what the writer of Hebrews would call “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
For the Christian, our sight is to be set on the Lord’s blessing and reward which is to come in full at His return. Though physically our eyes do not see it, the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened so as to trust in it as if we already possess it. For this very reason, the church of God can suffer with unwavering hope and have the same attitude as those we read about in the Bible.
In the harrowing trenches of persecution, it was said of them what I pray would be said of us. “And you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Hebrews 10:34). In the same way, let us set our gaze on the reward, regarding Christ as most valuable that we may be “full of light,” led where it will never fade. As for those whose lamp is filled with darkness, to devastating places will they be brought–to a darkness that will never lighten.
Matthew 6:24,“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
I often wonder if Jesus, as He spoke these words, had in mind the young ruler we see later in the gospels. I can draw many parallels here, but scripture does a much better job.
Matthew 19:16-22, “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Mark explains Jesus’ response as so:
Mark 10:21, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Allow the slightest devotion to this world, and you will soon find it no longer to be a slight devotion, but the master of your heart. There is no middle ground; Jesus Christ is master of all of you, or He is master of none of you. God’s love compels us to repent and place our faith in Christ alone with full confidence that He is the highest Treasure. Our freedom comes from looking at His glory, not this world. Martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, said it well:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Beloved, I encourage you to treasure, set your sight on, and serve Christ alone as your Superior Prize, Faithful Reward, and Sovereign King. Lose your life that you may find it. Where are you spending yourself on that which does not profit? What you consider to be wealth tells the greatest tale of what you truly love. It may seem impossible to free yourself from the strong hold of earth’s riches, and indeed it is. Hear Christ’s liberating voice today:
Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”