Treasures in Heaven - Part 1
There are three principles about wealth that we can learn
from the Sermon on the Mount.
1. Investing in anything that is temporal has at best
The Bible says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures
on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."
Treasure (thesauros) - deposit, investment, wealth. There are several pictures
here that Jesus used from sources of wealth in Palestine. First of all, there
are things that moth can destroy. In the east, a part of a person's wealth
often consisted of fine clothing. You may recall the story from the Old
Testament. After Elisha had healed Naaman the commander of the army of Aram from
leprosy, Gehazi, who was Elisha's servant was disappointed that Elisha did not
accept a gift from Naaman. So he went after Naaman and lied to him saying that
Elisha had sent him and then asked for a talent of silver and two sets of
clothing (2 Kings 5:22).
Shortly after the children of Israel started their conquest
of the Promised Land, one of the things that tempted Achan to sin was a
beautiful robe from Babylonia (Joshua 7:21). And who will ever forget the shoe
collection of Imelda, wife of the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand
Marcos. But Jesus said it is foolish to set our hearts upon these things because
there is no permanence in them. They are so easily destroyed.
Then there are the things that rust can destroy. Rust, from
the Greek refers not only to the corrosion of metals but to destruction which
comes from rats, or mildew. Older commentaries often picture a farm being
devoured by mice. Again, the emphasis is that it is foolish to set our hearts
upon these types of things because there is no permanence in them.
Finally, there are the treasures which thieves can break
through and steal. The NIV says where thieves break in and steal. The Greek
translation means to dig through. In the 1st century the Palestinian homes were
made of clay walls and the burglars actually dug through the walls and stole the
treasures. But again the emphasis is that these kinds of treasures have
absolutely no permanence. The poet Burns wrote about fleeting things:
But pleasures are like poppies spread
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed,
Or like the snow falls in the river
A moment white then melts forever.
Jesus taught us that investing in anything temporal has at
best, temporal value.
2. The wisest place to invest our time and efforts is in God's
Listen to these words from some very brilliant people: The
great revivalist John Wesley said, "I value all things only by the price they
shall gain in eternity." The great missionary David Livingstone said, "I
place no value on anything I possess except in relation to the kingdom of God."
The great reformer Martin Luther said, "I have held many things in my hands
and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands that I
The great Saviour Jesus Christ said, "Store up for
yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal." Jesus said there's only one safe place
to invest our money -– and that is in the kingdom of God. In essence he said,
you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Part of the
rationale for investing in the Kingdom of God is that everything belongs to God
Psalm 24:1--"The earth is the Lord's and everything in
it, the world, and all who live in it..." Psalm 50:10-12--"For every animal
of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. If I were hungry I
would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." Matthew 25:15
--"To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to
another one talent, each according to his ability."
The point is -- when we invest in the kingdom of God we're
acknowledging that all of what we have belongs to God and we are simply stewards
of his resources. What we have is God's anyway. Another important factor which
helps us invest in the kingdom of God is that people are more important than
Sir Authur Bryant in the work entitled English Saga, reflects
on the misuses of people during the Industrial Revolution. Matthew 10:42 says--
"if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is
my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not loose his reward."
The bottom line according to Jesus is that investing our money in the kingdom of
God is the safest and wisest place to invest.
And while Tozer is right, a far easier way to see where our
heart is -- look at what we invest in. At the end of the year most of us, often
with the help of competent accountants, organize with great detail our income
and deductible expenses for Caesar. It is usually pretty predictable for my
wife, Tessa, and myself at the end of the year to see where our money came from
and what we spent it on. But it always is a great joy for us to see each year we
invest more and more in the work of God. Friends, it's not hard to find out
where your heart is. Jesus said, just look at your chequebook. For many here
today, you will see that your heart is very much centred around the kingdom of
God because that's where you put a good portion of your money, and time. For
others, unfortunately, your heart is not in the Kingdom, because your chequebook
reveals that most of your investments centre around things like: your house,
your cars, your toys, your clothes, or your stock portfolio.
3. Investing in God's Kingdom Results in Spiritual Wealth.
It seems that today so many Christians are only just making
the spiritual bread line. I am constantly amazed at the amount of Christians I
know who are, what I would call, "spiritually poor". People who are
spiritually poor are not to be confused with the "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3).
Jesus used this phrase to describe people who are truly repentant, or "broken
in spirit, having a contrite heart".
The devil is the author of confusion and the father of
deceit. It is his desire for God's children to be spiritually poverty
stricken, and eventually be led into the lake of fire. The problem is that we
do not understand the difference between what is of value to God and what is
not. Then we continue to invest in those things that have no eternal value.
It is quite simple. Many of us do not understand the difference between
spiritual wealth (assets) and spiritual debt (liabilities). A well-known
international motivator/millionaire describes the difference between an asset
and a liability as follows: Assets - things that put money in your pocket.
Liabilities - things that take money out of your pocket. The reason why 1% of
the world's population holds 99% of material wealth is because they invest in
assets and not liabilities. They create wealth. They don't work for money;
they make money work for them, investing in stocks, businesses, intellectual
property and real estate.
It is similar in the spiritual sense. If we invest our
time and efforts on things that are of value to God, then we are increasing our
spiritual asset base. The deeper it becomes, the more stable we will become
in our Christian lives - not to be thrown about like a ship in an angry sea. The
only difference is that we don't buy our spiritual assets - Christ at Calvary
has purchased them for us. Jesus actually paid all of our debts off personally -
just don't go and accumulate any more! Also, in the material sense, we
personally benefit from investments made - for our own good pleasure and not God's!
In the spiritual sense, it is others that benefit from our investments. Invest
our time and efforts on God's values and the returns will be amazing.
Imagine what it is like living in debt. There are thousands
of people waking up daily with the fear of their assets being repossessed, or
not being able to afford certain payments toward unnecessary items bought on
hire purchase. Living in fear is exactly what the devil wants of us. He wants us
to be so caught up in the rat race that we lose sight of God and what is of
value in His kingdom. The same can be said in the spiritual sense - without
salvation, the human soul is doomed. Many people live in fear because they do
not know what will become of them when they die.
This is the case without Jesus' salvation. However, most
people without Christ in their lives do not realise this because they have a
false sense of security. That's the devil fooling them of course! Sooner, if
not later, they will realise how close to death they really are. All they have
to do is let Jesus pay up all their debts then they will be free.