Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Laying Up Treasure ~ The Perspective of Heaven on Earth

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Paul is talking about laying up treasure in heaven, the same thing Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves 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 language of “storing up” and “laying up” is identical in the Greek. Notice, also, that both Jesus and Paul speak of laying up “for themselves” or “for yourselves.” That is, laying up treasure is something we do on our own behalf. We store up treasure for our own benefit. Paul calls it a “good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.” Jesus calls it laying up treasure “in heaven.”

Because Paul references eternal life and Jesus speaks of heaven in these passages, many Christians assume they are not talking about this present life, but only about the life to come. That completely misses the point, for the treasure we lay up for ourselves has as much to do with this life as it does with the next.

When we treasure up treasure in heaven, we do not remove it from circulation in this life, we enable it to circulate in this life in a much more powerful way. As believers, everything we do from now should be done from heavenwhich is where we have received the new birth, where we have our citizenship, and where we are seated with the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father.

Why should we do anything from an earthly perspective anymore. We are to treasure up everythingnot just a portion, not just a tenth, but everything in heaven. Then whenever we have need on earth, we draw on the account we have laid up for ourselves in heaven.

Paul speaks of “laying hold” of eternal life. That is not the way we receive eternal, for eternal life is the gift of God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). We receive this gift by faith. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). Notice that it is a present possession whoever believes in Jesus has (present tense) eternal life.

When we receive this gift of eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have the right to draw upon it for the sake of this life.
  • Trusting in the Living God
  • Being rich in good works
  • Always ready to give
  • Always willing to share
Some ancient Greek manuscripts of 1 Timothy 6:19 have ontos zoes (“that which is life indeed”) instead of aioniou zoes (“eternal life”). We find this also supported in the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac and the Ethiopic versions. No matter which version we take, Paul is talking about that which is really and truly life the essence of life which comes only from heaven.

Paul warns the rich not to live their lives upside down; we are to live from heaven to earth, not from earth to heaven. When we lay up our treasure on earth, that is where our trust is. Our expectation is not set on the assured provision of heaven but on the uncertain resources of earth, which can be taken from us very quickly by any number of means. Self-sufficiency is not only arrogant, its foolish.

When you use your wealth, our talents, and all the resources of your life with the perspective of heaven, you will be living out of the overflow of the eternal life you have in Jesus Christ. He came that you might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), and it is meant to be lived here and now.

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