Matthew 6: 19-21, 24
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.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
This passage is a bit perplexing for me. I feel like it’s a bit schizophrenic…with multiple philosophies crossing over top of one another. Don’t stock up on things of this world…because they’ll get stolen or will wear out… Ok, that kind of makes sense. But it doesn't really make me want these things any less…
Instead, stock up on heavenly treasures…because they won’t get stolen and they won’t be eaten by moths. Well, ok…but what are heavenly treasures? How do I stock up on them? And will stocking up on them mean that I won’t get the things of this world that I want? Do I really have to choose?
And then comes the kicker…No, you can’t chase after everything. But what you do choose to chase…that will define what you care about most. And the truth is, in relation to what you care about most…you’ll despise everything that diverts your attention away.
I guess I really have no idea what “heavenly treasures” are…the Bible talks about crowns and jewels received by heaven’s citizens. I’m not sure exactly what the exchange rate is. Also, this is a pretty tough concept to sell to a curious non-believer. I think that inside of all of us is a desire to “do good things.” But to commit to this level of self-sacrifice is intimidating. Besides, I work hard and I earned all of this stuff. Shouldn’t I get to enjoy it?
The truth is, I have no idea what the answer is to that question. I don’t know if I have too many cable channels or too nice of a house or drive too nice of a car… But if there is anything that I do know, it’s this: I have never one time regretted being generous. In fact, if I look back honestly at my life…I wish I’d been more generous…with my time, with my forgiveness, and with my money. Maybe that’s what storing up treasures in heaven is…if so, I definitely don’t mind how it makes me feel here on earth.
The final verse above makes an interesting distinction. The word “serve” in verse 24 is a unique word. I think that anyone reading this passage would instantly think of their employment and question whether or not where we spend 1/3 of our lives “serving” the wrong master. However, the word “serve” here implies slavery rather than employment. I think that it’s an important distinction…and it relates to the amount of control we submit to with our work. A true slave, in the biblical sense, can’t work for 2 separate masters. There can only be one, and the slave must give his master exclusive service. I hope that in my life I’m able to see my employment as an opportunity to honor my true master rather than perpetually flip flopping between loyalty to each.