Matthew 6:19-21 ESV
“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.”
Is it Wrong to Have Possessions?
Is this teaching that it is wrong to have earthly possessions? No, I don’t believe it is, for we need food to eat, and plates to eat the food off of, and we need knives and forks and spoons with which to eat the food, and cups to drink out of. And we need chairs to sit on and beds to sleep on, and a roof over our heads. And we need clothing to wear, etc. So, if this is not an indictment against earthly possessions, then what is it?
For one, I believe it is an indictment against hoarding, against accumulating a bunch of stuff we don’t need and that we don’t use and probably will never use, especially in cases where we are aware of specific needs of others and where we are able to share with them who are in need but we don’t. If we have extras and we are aware of specific needs, then we should be generous and share with others in need and not be stingy.
What is in Our Hearts?
But I believe this goes beyond the idea of not hoarding to something greater. It has to do with our hearts. It has to do with what is in our hearts and with where our loyalties lie. It is kind of like walking according to the flesh or walking according to the Spirit. Do we love (prefer) the things of this world or do we love (prefer) the Lord and his holiness and righteousness? Who or what gets our time, passions, thoughts and adoration the most?
A good way to measure this is to keep track of how we spend our days. What occupies most of our time and energies and passions? What do we think about the most? Now, I realize people have to work so that they can eat and pay their bills, and people with children have their hands full caring for the children, and so these responsibilities may occupy a good portion of time, but even there, is the Lord directing our lives? Or are we?
Questions to Ask Ourselves
The whole point of this, I believe, is who is in control? Who is running our lives? Who or what are we following? Are we storing up in our minds and in our hearts the junk of this world? Or are we storing up in our minds and in our hearts the things of God? Who or what do we live for? The things this world has to offer? Or do we truly live for God to please him and to do what he has designed for us to do and to be?
Like for example, think about your days. When you are not working your job or taking care of your children or doing housework or shopping for food and necessities, if you have spare time, how is that spent? What gets first priority? Facebook? Twitter? Games? TV? Movies? Friends? Or God? Is Jesus someone you give 5 or 10 minutes to each day during a time of daily devotions? Or is he in charge of how you spend all your days and time?
Are you sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, and even with others who profess faith in Jesus Christ? Are you sharing Christ on social media? Or are you just sharing the stuff of this world? When you get together with others, do your conversations revolve around the stuff of this world? Or do you talk about the Lord and his word and encourage one another to walk in holiness?
Laying Up Treasures
Because the treasures that we are to be laying up here in this life are not to be the things, philosophies, attractions, and acceptance of this sinful world. For we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth in living the Christian life and then in sharing with others how they can know Christ and walk in his holiness and righteousness in the power of God via the forsaking of their sins to follow Jesus in obedience, by faith in him.
When and if we get to heaven one day, the Lord is not going to be interested in the things which entertained us on this earth, or our political views, or our earthly possessions, or how many “likes” and “thumbs up” we received from other humans. What he cares about is if we surrendered our lives to him and if we walked in his ways and if we no longer lived in deliberate sin. And he cares, too, if we shared Christ with others or if we kept him to ourselves.
Thus, it is true that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. For if we treasure God (Jesus) and holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, moral purity, honesty, integrity, kindness, love, and purity of devotion to the Lord, that will be reflected in our thinking, in our attitudes, in how we spend our time, in our passions, and in our words and deeds. It will be clear who gets first place in our lives or even if Christ has a place in our lives at all.
And, if we treasure the things of this world – the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life – that, too, will be evident in the things that we do and say and in how we spend our time and energies and where our passions truly lie. It will be clear that what we treasure is not God but sneakiness, dishonesty, trickery, manipulation, lying, cheating, stealing, and/or sexual immorality, and the like.
So, we have a choice. We can choose to serve the Lord with our lives, or we can choose to serve the flesh. We can’t do both. We are either walking according to the Spirit or we are walking according to the flesh. Our desire is either for the Lord or for the flesh. We can’t have it both ways. The two do not mix. So, if we choose to follow the Lord with our lives and to make him our treasure, we have eternal life. But if we choose to remain in our sins and to live to please our flesh, that will end in death, not in life everlasting.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; Ac 26:18]
Dwelling In Beulah Land
By Miles C Austin (1911)
Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling;
Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand;
Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling;
None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.
Far below the storm of doubt upon the world is beating,
Sons of men in battle long the enemy withstand;
Safe am I within the castle of God’s word retreating,
Nothing there can reach me, ’tis Beulah Land.
Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me;
I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand;
Here the sun is always shining, nothing there can harm me;
I am safe forever in Beulah Land.
Viewing here the works of God, I sink in contemplation;
Hearing now His blessed voice, I see the way He planned;
Dwelling in the Spirit, here I learn of full salvation,
Gladly I will tarry in Beulah Land.
I’m living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky,
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry;
Oh, yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.
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