Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19). Jesus is in the midst of showing us how we fall far from the standard God has set before his people. After warning about performing your righteous acts to be seen by people, Jesus then says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Do not treasure earthly treasures.
Make the Decision (6:19-20)
I want you to notice that Jesus says we have a choice. We have a choice regarding what we treasure. You choose what you treasure. You choose where you store up your treasures. You choose which treasures you want. You choose whether you will treasure earthly treasures or heavenly treasures. Don’t accumulate for yourself these things on earth. Accumulate the wealth and treasures of heaven.
How can we know if we are treasuring the treasures of earth? Jesus is going to show us how we can know as we go through this paragraph. But let’s ask some important questions. Why does any of this matters Why does Jesus not want us to store for ourselves earthly treasures? Why can’t I be a Christian and still accumulate treasures on earth? Before explaining the moral implications, Jesus is just going to give us a logical reason. Do not treasure earthly treasures because it is an effort in futility. Jesus says in verse 19 that what you are accumulating on earth never works out. The treasures of earth are not permanent nor protected. Jesus is telling us that the treasures of earth are a silly investment. Nothing on this earth is permanent. Nothing gives to you what it promises to give to you perpetually. Everything we have loses its newness. Even if you try to protect something from aging, it will still age and wear out. I have found a new shirt with the tags still on it hidden in my closet. I pulled it out and thought that I would have a new shirt. But I didn’t because the hanger had left stretch marks in the shoulders because it had hung there for so long. Even if you do not use it, you will lose it because it will fall apart from disuse. Investing in this world is a terrible investment. What is here today is gone tomorrow. What is new today is worn out tomorrow. What is fast today is slow tomorrow.
My first car was a used Nissan Sentra. It was a wonderful car. For a college kid, one thing that was really cool about it was that it had a detachable face stereo system. For those who are younger, having a detachable face meant that no one would break into your car and steal your stereo. The important part was missing as you would pop it off when you left your car. So what happened to my beloved car? Three years later a literal storm of the century came along, dropping softball size hail. It was not a little hail but poured from the heavens softballs of ice. Houses had windows and skylights blown out. Restaurant signs had multiple holes in them as the force of the ice flew threw everything in sight. My car was totaled. The glass was shattered, it rained into the car, and there was not a single panel on my car where the metal did not have multiple softball sized dents. The broke college kid had a broken car with a detachable face stereo system. The only treasures that do not rust, do not age, do not break, do not slow down, and do not ruin are in heaven.
How to Choose the Right Treasure (6:21-24)
In the rest of this paragraph, Jesus is going to show us why we must not treasure earthly treasures and how to go forward with choosing the right treasure. Look at verse 21. Jesus tells us that what we choose to treasure is where our hearts will be. Your heart follows what you treasure. If you value the wealth and possessions of this world, then you will find your desire there. Your heart will come along to what you value. What you choose is what you will desire.
This is the problem that Jesus is identifying. You are not going to desire Jesus if you treasure the things on earth. By definition, you will desire the things on earth because you treasure them. I am sure you can think about things in your life that you used to choose and then for some reason no longer treasured them. When you made that choice, your heart was no longer with it. There were a number of things I treasured when I was younger. I used to treasure politics. My first undeclared major in college was political science and I was active in campaigns. But it made my heart consumed with our government, political parties, and political discourse. This was a problem and I decided I needed to no longer value politics. I used to treasure finances. I got my degree in accounting and finance. I love following stocks, trading stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and the like. But it made my heart consumed with financials, following companies, listening to stock advice and I had to choose to no longer do that. What I want us to think about by these examples is that you choose what you value. It does not fall on you. You learned to value it. You choose it in your life and that is why your heart is there. We will invest time, attention, and money at the expense of other things for what we treasure.
So here is the point to help us. You can look at what you are passionate about and that will tell you what you treasure. Your passions reveal your treasure. What you spend your money on reveals your treasure. What you spend your time in reveals your treasure. What you are excited about reveals your treasure. Here is the problem: are you as passionate for God? Are you as passionate about worship? Are you as passionate about Bible study and Bible reading? Are you as passionate about spiritual things and spiritual discussions? Do we binge on God or on something else?
The second explanation is in verses 22-23. Jesus gives a very simple picture. If you eye is healthy and clear, then your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad and clouded, then your whole body will be full of darkness. Those of you who have dealt with cataracts understand this picture. Bad eyes darken. Good eyes see clearly. Jesus is teaching us that good eyes lead to lives filled with light. Corrupted eyes lead to corrupted lives. If we want to be in light, then your eyes are the key. What you focus on matters. Your life focus will determine what you treasure. What you are looking at is what you will value.
This is how to live a miserable life. Keep looking at the world rather than God. Keep looking at the treasures of the world and you will be discontent, unsatisfied, depressed, unhappy, and empty. This is the outcome if you focus on politics, focus on celebrities, focus on wealth, focus on your career, focus on your possessions, focus on your family, or focus on anything else. This is why we have a world of hated filled, discontent, unsatisfied, depressed, unhappy, and empty people. You are looking at the wrong things. Your life focus will determine what you treasure. If you are any of these things, then you are looking at the wrong things. Change your focus. Change what you are looking at. Change what you see. Let the light into your eyes and stop looking at the darkness.
The third picture is in verse 24. We cannot choose both the treasures of earth and the treasures of heaven. But how we certainly try to do this. But Jesus says you cannot do this. You cannot focus on both. You will be devoted to one and despise the other. Because the treasures of earth and the treasures of heaven are so opposite, it is not possible to devote yourself to both. Going for one will make you not like the other. You see that the more we focus on God, the more you are not going to care about the things of this life. You are not going to care about wealth, career, government, politics, hobbies, entertainment, or the other things. It is just not going to matter to you because you have decided to treasure and focus on God. But the other side is also true. If you are choosing earthly things, you are not going to care about the things of God. So it is telling us something about our treasure if we do not want things of God. If we do not want to open our Bibles in the week and spend time in it, it shows that you are devoted to the other and are despising God. If we do not want to come to worship, it shows you are devoted to one and despise the other. If we despise worship, prayer, singing, the Lord’s Supper, gathering together, reading God’s word, teaching God’s word, sharing God’s word, and the other activities of God, then you know what you are not storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven but on earth.
So this is Jesus’ question to us. What is your investment? I want us to think about what it means if we are investing in this world and in this life. First, it is illogical, empty investment. Everything in this life wears out, falls apart, slows down, breaks down, and loses its worth. You are never getting back a return on what you are investing. Second, you are making that decision. Your passions follow your choices. Passion is not accidental. You are choosing to be passionate about this world because that is your focus. It is what you are looking at. Third, your whole body will be full of darkness when you have bad eyes. When you are looking at the wrong things your life is going to be messed up. You are going to be discontent, unsatisfied, unhappy, depressed, and empty. Look at the end of verse 23. Jesus says, “How deep is that darkness!” If you are in a dark place, you are looking at the wrong things. Finally, investing in this life means you are going to despise the only path to life, joy, peace, and satisfaction. You will not want anything to do with the right path because you have devoted yourself to the wrong path.
The way to treasure heavenly treasures is to choose the wisdom of the wise investment. Your heart will follow. Your heart does not follow on the first day. So do not give up when your decision toward the wise, spiritual investment of heavenly treasures. Choose heavenly treasures first and your heart will follow. Let the light into your life by looking to the right things. Focusing on God’s ways is going to bring light to your life. Only then will you start seeing the transformation of your life from emptiness to satisfaction.