Verses 19 and 20 must have been hard for people like Matthew to hear. “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” (verses 19-20). Falling in love with money and material possessions can be incredibly easy, and I believe we frequently fall victim to materialism in America, where physical possessions are equated with success and well-being. I think it is important to note the wording of this verse, because I don’t think it was Jesus’s heart for everyone to be on the exact same plane with physical possessions, or for everyone to live in poverty. Jesus says not to lay up for yourselves treasures. Other versions say do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. It seems the issue with materialism is that we aren’t content with what we have, and that we’re creating an excess of riches that we don’t actually need. Why have one sports car when you can have two? Why have a comfortable three bedroom house when you can have a six bedroom house? Why get a regular sized fast food meal when you can get a large one? Why get a small coffee when you can get a Trenta? I don’t want to point fingers here. I live in a constant state of having much more than I need. And I don’t think it was Jesus’s heart to discard all their possessions, because some people can be wealthy and still worship God and not have it become idolatry. But look at how verse 20 contrasts verse 19. What is physical status compared to heaven? Nothing! People can scratch your sports car and decrease its value. No one can take away your salvation. Your home can get robbed, your TV can be broken, your stocks can plummet, but your salvation can’t be harmed by people. It won’t degrade or become cheapened or devalued. And that is what Jesus is trying to get people to understand so that they don’t waste their lives building up a physical empire that doesn’t translate into anything once they die. Verse 21 sums up this little section quite nicely, and it’s one of my favorite verses in the chapter. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (verse 21). This really convicts me and honestly makes me feel awful at times. I’m not much of a physical hoarder, but I still have some things I wouldn’t want to do without. I have a rather large library of books and DVD’s, and it’d be quite hard to part with them if I had to. I want my heart to be where my treasure is, and sometimes that doesn’t line up like it should. Think about how little Jesus and the disciples had in terms of physical items. Again, I’m not saying we should give everything away out of guilt. But we need to remember that our Father loves us, and that He’ll always provide exactly enough from us. Remember the manna? God doesn’t change. He still always gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. The issue is that we frequently have a skewed expectation and idea of what it is we truly “need”. I would hope that if Jesus came to any of us individually and told us to give everything up for Him, we would do it in a second. And He probably won’t do that. But I would ask everyone, myself included, to really think about where our treasures and our hearts are. Are they focused on God and the advancement of the kingdom? Or are we so busy trying to gather material possessions that God is forced out of the picture?
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