Treasure in Heaven

SEEKING TREASURE has been a preoccupation of people from time immemorial. Many have spent their whole lives on the quest. Some have been rewarded with great finds of gold, silver and jewels. Treasure has been found in deep sea shipwrecks or buried on obscure islands, but when it is found, there is much rejoicing and sometimes it makes the news.

Spiritual Treasure

However, a true disciple in Christ has a different view of treasure. A God- fearing person’s treasure is not gold or silver or jewels, but spiritual. Jesus said:

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 (Matthew 6:19–21).

Your treasure is something that you hold to be the most important thing in your life.

In the time of the Bible’s Old Testament, a person’s wealth was measured by the number of possessions they had. It showed their social standing and influence. Job, for example. After his great trials had ended, he was doubly blessed by God: ‘And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (Job 42:12).

King Solomon was also renowned for his great wealth, especially when accumulating materials for his building projects (1 Kings 10:14–18). ‘All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon’ (v. 21).

How to Get Rich

It is not clear whether Solomon was affected by his great wealth, but he did write: ‘In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked’ (Proverbs 15:6). This proverb illustrates the spiritual dimension of treasure. This treasure comes to the faithful, who walk in the path of righteousness. Spiritual treasure is accumulated by faithful people during their lifetime: in service to God the Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, and to their fellows. This treasure is accumulated by reading the Word of God and absorbing it into their hearts, and putting it into practice in their everyday lives.

This is what Jesus meant when he said ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21).

A Problem with Wealth

For a follower of Christ, the accumulation of worldly wealth can present a problem to their spiritual life. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, ‘The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs’ (1 Timothy 6:10). If striving for money becomes an obsession to someone, they open themselves to many disappointments and sorrows.

Jesus told a parable about a rich man:

The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God (Luke 12:16–21).

The Rich Ruler

Being rich toward God requires genuine Godliness—rather than having material wealth. Jesus said they who hear the word of God, and keep it, are blessed— (Luke 11:28). Then, we have the record of the time he was visited by a rich ruler:

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! (Luke 18:18–24). Jesus gave the man a selected list from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17). He omitted the commandment against covetousness. The man was able to confirm that he had kept the commandments which Jesus mentioned. Then Jesus identified the commandment which was the man’s stumbling block—he challenged him to give up his wealth. (The man was unable.)

This world’s wealth has no purpose in God’s Kingdom. What matters for eternal life, is having a good and honest heart, keeping the commandments of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and to love the Lord God with all one’s heart, soul, might and mind (Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5).

Treasure in Heaven

What does it mean, then, to have treasure in heaven? It means having our name written in the book of life, and having a crown of righteousness laid up for us in heaven, like the Apostle Paul had (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 20:12). As Jesus said, your heart is where your treasure is (Matthew 6:21).

In Isaiah we read, ‘The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure’ (33:6). This is also translated ‘The fear of the Lord is his treasure’ (KJV, RSV). To fear God is to revere and to seek Him. A believer who has a godly fear of the Lord has real treasure.

We have hope of being granted eternal life in the world to come. At Christ’s return, his faithful followers will be rewarded when their treasure in heaven results in the gift of eternal life. But it is sobering to realise also that this treasure can be lost if we lose the faith we once possessed.

We see then, that real treasure is not money, wealth, or possessions, it is not gold or silver, it is spiritual:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1).

This treasure is priceless, and is a gift by the grace of God. Only in the Bible do we discover how we can get rich toward God. Godliness, faith, keeping God’s commandments, and service toward Him and others, are what constitute real treasure in heaven.

Grahame A Cooper

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