Monday, October 30, 2006

Laying Up Treasure in Heaven

Do not lay up for yourselves treasure 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)
This begins a section of Jesus’ sermon on the mount in which He teaches on the relationship between wealth and riches and the kingdom of God. This section includes the teaching on laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), the difference between the “good” eye and the “evil” eye (Matthew 19:22-23), the teaching that you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), about how God will take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:25-32), and the command to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33-34). It all goes together and shares the same context.

In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus teaches us to not lay up treasure for ourselves on earth, but to lay them up for ourselves in heaven. And He gives use the key to what this means: “Where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”

In other words, the whole question of treasuring — what we treasure, how we treasure it, and where we lay it up—is a matter of the heart. What is going on in your heart will determine what your treasure is all about.

Now, we know that there is no need, no lack, no want in heaven. Heaven is perfectly provided for in every way. Therefore, it does not need any of the treasure of earth. We do not need to try to crate up gold and jewels and earthly treasures and ship them up to heaven.

Heaven does not need the treasure of earth — but earth desperately needs the treasure of heaven. And that is why we are to seek the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of heaven. We need it here.

That is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of the devil, redeem fallen humanity, and establish the kingdom of God on earth. When He began His ministry, He came preaching, “Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is here.” His teaching was about the kingdom, and His works of healing and deliverance were manifestations of the kingdom. Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended to His throne in heaven, where He now rules over all, forever and ever.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come — and keep coming! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven — and keep being done!” (that is the sense of the Greek text).

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” But we are not to seek it in heaven only, but on the earth. For the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God, and the righteousness of God is His way of doing and being right. Everything is already set right in heaven by the rule and reign of God. Where it is really needed now is upon the earth. And that is what we are to seek — for the rule and reign of God and His rightness to be established on the earth. When we do, everything else will be fully taken care of.

So the kingdom of heaven is now here, and has been ever since Jesus came. Laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven is to be understood in the context of the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of heaven.

Heaven does not need the treasure of earth; earth needs the treasure of heaven. If we merely treasure up for ourselves treasure on earth, neither heaven or earth will benefit from it. But when we treasure up for ourselves treasure in heaven, then it can truly become a blessing on earth, manifesting the prosperity of heaven to meet every need.

We are the people of heaven. We are in the world system, but we are not of it. Our new birth by the Holy Spirit is from above, our citizenship is in heaven, and we are seated — right now — in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. We are on the earth, but we of heaven, and therefore, uniquely qualified to bring forth the blessing of heaven to the earth.

We are authorized to pray for the kingdom of God to keep coming onto the earth, to call for the bread of heaven to be distributed on earth, to bind on earth what has been bound in heaven, and to loose on earth what has been loosed in heaven. We are of heaven, and we are bringing heaven to earth, by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven so that it can be filled with the purpose of heaven and manifest the blessing of the kingdom of heaven on the earth.

It does not mean that we are not to have wealth and riches on the earth. Rather, it means that our wealth and riches must have the purpose of heaven. And that is a matter of the heart, for where our treasure is, that is where our heart is.

It is impossible for us to have our hearts in one place and our treasure in another. As Jesus said in this same passage, we cannot serve both God and mammon. Where one is, that is where the other is.

To lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, we first need to settle the matter of the heart. We need to line up our hearts with the heart of God and the purpose of heaven, seeking the establishment of the rule and reign of God (a.k.a. the kingdom of God) on earth, just as it is in heaven. When we do that, then we will be able to direct all our wealth and riches towards that purpose.