Treasure and the Heart
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
We humans appreciate certainty and have challenges in tolerating uncertainty. We want to be confident in our present existence and our ability to continue that existence for the near future.
Jesus is perfectly aware of these human tendencies. He understands that humans seek after security, confidence, and trust. In Matthew 6:19-21, He identifies our fundamental challenge: where our treasure is, our heart is also.
Where is our treasure? In what do we place our trust? It is easy for us to consider our money and our material goods to be our treasure. When we have money in the bank and the comforts of modern life, then life seems good. But if we run out of money and/or cannot obtain the comforts of modern life, then life seems miserable. If the way we look at our lives changes based on our financial circumstances, then we have put too much trust in our physical resources. The events of the past few years should vividly remind us what happens to the things of this creation. They are subject to decay and can easily be taken from us. They will not endure. If we hope in the riches of this world, we will find ourselves most bankrupt on the final day (1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19, 1 John 2:15-17).
Many people understand that they cannot really put their trust in their money, and so they instead put their trust in their fellow human beings. Their treasure may be their relationships with their fellow man. Perhaps they devote themselves to humanitarian causes and try to do good for the world.
Such is certainly good and far better than placing trust in riches. But can trust in fellow humans rescue us from the challenges of this life? Does not Jesus say in Matthew 6:1-4 that those who give to be seen by men have their reward? Humanitarian works are well and good, but will they endure any longer than material wealth (2 Peter 3:10-13)?
If we really seek full certainty, we must look beyond this world to the One who created it and who sustains it. Our treasure should be in God in Christ–He is the only One who can be our certainty. Trusting in anything else will lead to anxiety; trusting in God leads to the peace that surpasses understanding (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:7).
When our treasure and heart are entrusted to God, we will seek to serve Him and do what He would have us to do (Romans 6:16-23, Galatians 2:20). Therefore, we will still need to provide for ourselves, our family, and to give to those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28, 1 Timothy 5:8). So there is a place for money, for humanitarian work, and for cultivating relationships in our lives, but only inasmuch as they are rooted in our trust in God. Our trust in God should motivate us in all things to be conformed to the image of Jesus the Son–to live humbly, selflessly, seeking the best interest of all those with whom we come into contact (Romans 8:29, Matthew 20:25-28, Philippians 2:1-11). When God is the Absolute, first and foremost in our lives, we can then truly live, prosper, develop relationships, and do good (Philippians 4:13)!
Where our treasure is, our heart will be also. If our treasure is only of this world, then it and our hearts will perish with this world. The only eternal treasure is God in Christ. Therefore, everything we think, feel, and do should be rooted in Him and our trust in the goodness and rightness of His way. Confidence in God leads to peace; confidence in the world is easily shaken. Let us hold firm to the Rock of Ages and obtain the true treasure of eternal life!
Ethan R. Longhenry