Earthly treasures vs heavenly treasures
What could be better than the American Dream?
A steady job, money in the bank and a hefty 401(k) for retirement – coupled with a nice house in the ‘burbs, a white-picket fence, two kids and a dog, a swagger wagon for mom and a sedan for dad.
Life couldn’t get any better than that, right?
Isn’t There More to Life?
I mean, do we just go through life trying to reach the next promotion so we can move into a better neighborhood with a better school system so our kids can do better than we have done?
I often think about what Jesus might say regarding the American Dream.
Would he want everyone to be a homeowner, everyone to have comfort and the security of a nice economy with nothing to worry about?
For some reason, I just can’t believe Jesus would encourage us to pursue the American Dream! Maybe I’m wrong – if so please tell me.
But here’s why I think this:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
The American Dream seems to be about earthly treasure – not the treasure of the heavenly kind! So here’s the question of the day:
“Are you building up earthly treasure, or are you storing up treasures in heaven?”
In order to answer that question we need to understand the difference between earthly and heavenly treasure and then we need to look at our own hearts to determine which one we are really living for.
The Heart of the Matter
This whole issue of heavenly versus earthly treasure really comes down to the heart. In other words, which do you love more – earthly goods or heavenly treasure?
Don’t you just love how Jesus always brings things right back to our hearts and challenges us with our idols?
Jesus has a way of reaching down to the epicenter of our souls and challenging our framework and then getting us to rethink our framework so that He is the one we are living for!
So, let me ask you: Are you constantly worrying about your money? Do you have an unhealthy preoccupation with your net worth, accumulating more wealth, becoming debt-free, investing, making more money, saving more money, or getting the next promotion?
Any one of those things can become an earthly treasure. Again, it comes down to what our hearts love more!
What is Treasure in Heaven?
In Jesus time, the Jews he was speaking to would have been very familiar with the terms “earthly treasure” and “heavenly treasure.” It was common for their vernacular. In fact, the Jews defined storing up treasure in heaven as deeds of mercy and deeds of kindness to people in distress.
Jesus, in Luke 12:33-34 NIV, gives us an idea of treasure in heaven when he says:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We see that Jesus equates selling possessions and giving to the needy as treasure in heaven. If I were to define it myself, treasure in heaven would simply be living life with open hearts and open hands.
Open hearts means we have a heart that God has – one for the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized.
Open hands means that we live life with a loose grip mentality so that our earthly goods are not used for our own contentment, but rather are used to have an impact on those who are less fortunate for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself said he had come to:
. . . proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. – Luke 4:18 NIV
We store up treasure in heaven by seeking the kingdom of God through helping others, which demonstrates the greatest of all sacrifices that God made for us!
How Do We Pursue Treasure in Heaven?
So how should we respond to this?
1. Repent from Seeking Earthly Treasure
We always need to start here any time we see that we’ve been living for something else besides Christ himself. Turn from earthly treasure and turn to God and worship Him.
2. Replace Earthly Treasure
Earthly treasure (and our love for it) must be replaced by a deeper love for Jesus. There is only one way to deal with this issue correctly and that is a reorientation back to the greatness of the gospel:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
3. Rearrange Our Priorities
Instead of living for six digits, job status, houses, cars, TV’s, vacations, comfort or security – we should be living for the next level of giving, of helping the poor and of using our money for the sake of the gospel!
In other words, our priorities should be set on simplification for the kingdom of God, not accumulation for our own earthly kingdom!
Here are some practical ways to rearrange priorites and start living for heavenly treasure:
- Build generosity into your budget – start budgeting for giving and start looking to give to others and those in need.
- Give time and money to local shelters – the Boys and Girls clubs are in desperate need of volunteers to come and spend time with disadvantaged youth. That’s one out of hundreds of organizations that need help.
- Have a garage sale or sell stuff on eBay – and give the proceeds away to a hurting family!
- Adopt an orphan or become a foster parent – there are so many kids that need good structure and parents who love them.
- Think twice – Instead of accepting a promotion based on money think about whether your job will allow you to invest into others.
And, of course, always study for yourself on what the Bible has to say about Money!
What other practical ways could you share to store up treasure in heaven? Leave a comment!
The operating manual I followed to give 10x more
This book is teaches everything I did to go from stranded with only $7 to paying off $400k of debt and giving 40% of my income. Hint: it was God.
It lays out the 4-part formula we followed (that you can copy) to be great stewards with what He has entrusted us with to be in a position for Him to do miracles.
It’ll help you earn more, save more, and have more fun giving than you dreamed possible
Great article which brings out a point that seems to be largely overlooked. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention that it comes down to our hearts and what we love more.
Unfortunately, this can also be the basis for excusing ourselves and avoiding the issue. It is very easy to say to ourselves that, of course, we love God more and put heavenly treasure before our earthly belongings. If that is true, then having and accumulating possessions isn’t a problem for us. Since that’s not a problem, there’s no need to change anything. Regrettably, I rarely see any difference in behavior between professing Christians and “the world” on this issue. In the past I used this rationalization myself although I’m actively working through the process of de-materializing my life now. It is very liberating.
I love the “open hearts and open hands” idea. That’s a very succinct way of describing the the way we should be living.
I John 3:17
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
Great article! Thank you for sharing. I’m leading a bible study on money tonight. This information fits in perfectly with what we’ll study. I plan to use this to supplement the study. Thank you!
I really enjoyed this article. The American Dream is about greed, and storing up earthly treasure. I believe that is what has led to a less Godly attitude and why so many American people have turned from God. Young parents today want the fanciest homes in the nicest neighborhoods, new cars,fanciest preschools, and child care and lots of electronic gizmos, and are working longer hours than ever before. Some have lost their jobs in this recession, and are losing homes, having care repossesed, and are frantically worried about their “earthly treasures.” Their true treasure lies in the gift God has given them…..a child. Sadly most parents today pass their children off to daycare centers before they are even a year old, missing out on investing the time needed to establish good values and teach their children, spend time with them, creating “heartprints” that they will hold forever in their own hearts. Ask a child what they got for Christmas last year… Chances are they won’t remember! Ask a child about how they baked cookies with their Mom at Christmas, and they will tell you everything they did. Those are heartprint moments, and more precious than gold.
Open hearts, open hands…….Everything we have is a gift from Him, and we all need to use what He has given us to His greater kingdom….
As parents, we need to realize that what children desire most are actually those moments that leave heartprints, and set the stage for future generations to pass along a life that is not so centered in greed, and more centered on being good stewards of what He has given us, and investing our time , talents, and gifts to live more God centered lives, and less “me centered” ……. True treasure has NO pricetag on i
May God Bless Your Day!
my wife and i were talking about this topic tonight. my
question is why we accumulate treasure in heaven? as i
Christian, I know will be in heaven after my life on the
earth. What do use the accumulated heaven treasure for?
Hutch Hubschman says
I am filling in for a local preacher next week and was researching some good commentary on Matthew 6:19-20 and Googled “Treasures in Heaven” and your website popped up. Praise GOD!! Your (most excellent) thoughts were EXACTLY what I prayed for as I fired-up my laptop! God Bless you!! Keep up the good work, fight the “good fight” and thanks for keeping “it” real.
Your friend in Ohio,
Jeff “Hutch” Hubschman
Jason @ Redeeming Riches says
Thanks for all the great comments everyone, I’m glad that this post was helpful.
Michael, I think the Am. Dream comes down to a heart issue, those things that everyone “should” have as you say could be detrimental to me if I am holding on to those as my ultimate treasure and not trusting in Christ himself for true joy and contentment.
Eugene, great question. This is just my opinion, but I would answer it this way – We accumulate treasure to bring more glory to Him and more happiness to us in heaven.
Think of it as a jar being filled with water. If you have a small jar (little treasure in heaven), you’ll be completely filled, but it is a smaller amount. If you have a larger jar (more treasure in heaven), your jar can be filled more with happiness and joy and bring more glory to Him.
I believe it relates to our capacity for bringing glory to Him and joy to us.
Laguna Realtor says
It’s hard to save for an emergency fund if you have a lot of credit card debt.
Just wondering how the principle of good stewardship falls in line with selling all you have to give to the poor? Does this mean then that as I make myself poor, I then wait for God to tell someone else to give up all they have so they can help me in my poverty and so on and so on down the spiral?
Please understand that I truly believe in laying up treasures in Heaven and am determined to continue living it. Re. materialism – I don’t even own my own cell phone or laptop. As you mentioned above regarding stewarding our time and talents, etc., if my talent is making money but I use it to give more than I keep, is that wrong? What about our responsibility to putting food on the table for our families or paying Caesar his dues? How can we live responsibly if we’ve left nothing for ourselves in order to survive here on earth? Moreso, how can we give if we have nothing to give? Yes, I believe God will provide as He always does, however just because we believe that, do we sit back and wait for Him to bathe us, brush our teeth and get us from point A to point B with His power when we have the capability to do it ourselves? What about stewardship?
In trying to fully understand how laying up treasures in Heaven falls in line with the principle of being a good steward I’ve come to the conclusion that we are required to manage well everything God gives us while our main drive to do so is to be able to give more to others for the sake of Christ than we actually keep for ourselves. Therefore the Old Testament tithe for the New Testament generation is really too small.
Jeremy silwal says
Hi Janice, that’s great attitude and ambition, this my answer to your question, since you have some people who God placed in your life to care for and some responsibilities to cater for too, then you don’t have to give everything God blesses you with(Salary) for charity, what Mathew 6:20 means is that you dont keep it for you and your family only but you mind,budget also for “charity” .
Jason @ Redeeming Riches says
Thanks Glen! I haven’t checked out Alcorn’s book, but I should. Thanks for the info.
Thanks for this great articles. Just wanted to share my experience, I believe the lord has been showing through my own practical experience that he only adds me money (e.g salary increase) when I have a corresponding need in my family. My own material desires have been left unanswered but whenever one of my siblings need more contribution to their tuition fund, I receive a salary increase. It got to the point where I realised that truly all of my money belongs to him and when I use it to help others then I know I’m following his wishes. If he wants me to save 10% of my earnings every month for example, then he would allow me to have that much in excess after my expenses are paid. Then again I haven’t been that consistent with giving my tithe so maybe I just haven’t been a good steward. I am trying to draw the line as you can see with doing God’s will with regard to my money while at the same time not starving or excessively denying myself when it is not his will. I have also seen his providence. In my country the uneployment rate is so high but I have never lacked a job, and it is not because I am aggressive or ambitious but I believe it is because I am his child. I think money is one of the tests we have on earth, I hope that we will eventually discover the answer through being obedient to him and seeking his wisdom as described in the scriptures
I think it means don’t be greedy otherwise God wouldn’t
have given Jobe all his great possessions back in multitudes
for his faithfulness. Its ok to have stuff just give thanks to God.
Joseph was faithful, and God delivered him to not only having currency, but
power as well after his tribulation period of false accusations, slavery, and prison.
Jesus was meek, but even he was a carpenter. Don’t worship your posessions, and give
when you can. Give thanks to God for what you do have personal opinion.
Stephen Mvulah says
Wow! What an inspiring article. The moral of the story is instead of
saying “I’ve gut my money on my mind and my mind on my money” we
we should rather say I’ve gut my God on my mind and my mind on my
God” Matthew 6:33 says “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness and all the other things shall be added unto you”
We are to make the kingdom of God our primary concern. When we
love material things excessively we cannot love God excessively.
Money is not a problem but misuse and the love of it. It is this love
of material things which leads to satanism where people want to leave
lavishly now without caring for eternity.
We need to learn to distinguish between our WANTS and our NEEDS.
In Philippians 4:19 God never said He will supply our wants but our needs.
Depending on our situations and social status our needs differ between
individuals so your ability to distinguish what you really need and your
wants goes a long way in governing your love for Christ.
I stumbled on this article whilst preparing for my article on for our facebook
group page called Search tha Scriptures with Steve. Everyone is free to post
any christian articles or questions. We will be greatly honoured to have
many people posting our page so that we grow spiritually. Remain blessed!
This a great article. The ideal of the “American Dream” or American greed really lends itself to what Jesus says in Matthew 19:23 about it being hard for a rich man to enter in heaven. With our current lifestyles, it can be easy to find ourselves consumed with either acquiring worldly possessions or just trying to RETAIN the ones we do have. But the problem with paying so much attention to these types of things is that we lose sight of God and our true purpose for living, to serve Him.
When we’re so focused on what WE need to do to obtain things or create a nest egg or whatever it is we think we need or want, we’re leaving God out of the equation. It’s not by our own minds and strength that we were able to start a business or complete a degree or save money. It was only God’s grace that we were able to become “successful” by the world’s standards in the first place
Clearing our minds of any financial worries truly allows us to focus on Jesus and what He can do for us not what we can do on our. Basically, let’s relinquish control over every aspect of our lives. Allowing God to take control only will strengthen our personal relationships with Him. Besides, He can certainly do more for us than we could ever imagine doing for ourselves.
Vincent J. Ortega says
Great article, I really enjoyed reading this about the american dream, I myself need examine myself to make sure I am not storing up treasure on earth and always whatever I do, Glorifying God and storing up treasures in Heaven.
Marie @ My Personal Finance Journey says
I totally love this one, this is perfect, especially this coming Lenten season. I may not have a perfect life, nor financially independent, but I’m trying to do good to my fellow men and especially to my family.
Splendid article and a timely reminder of our eternal home in heaven. As Christians, we are pilgrims on a journey on this earth and so we should store up treasures in heaven and one way of doing this is by helping others who are in need.
Patrick Barnaby says
I just realised that Luke 12:33-34 is teaching us how to become Wealthy here now on Earth. First by serving each other in the Body of Christ and Helping the poor in the world because then they come to the Lord because they see your generosity. This is the Gospel. The Secret to Wealth is Mathew 6:19-21. When we FOCUS inside First then we Prosper down here too. It take Money to Preach the Gospel and Help the poor. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Mathew 6:33
These are great arts I’ve had this on my mind for quite a while talking with family members about it treasure on earth and not in heaven all these articles are early 2000 but I just found t hem ln Jan. 2019 please cont. this discussion
Anthony King says
In my experience, you DO NOT need to store riches on the earth, because You’re Father in Heaven will store riches for you in Heaven. “I ask the Lord in His name, and it shall be given to you”. If you ask God anything that you desire He will give it you by His Grace and Love because God loves us and hates the enemy like Satan and His demons with sins. So go a head and ask God what you really want, something like a huge mansion House, a sports fast car or motorbike even both, a very fast computer ona laptop which God made me in Heaven with both of my cars Torana and Motorbike witha huge luxury boat getting ready for the world. The new world is coming soon, this old world will end in December Christmasday in 2040, that is the date God has set for this world to be destroyed. A new earth begins 2041 with His Heaven coming down from Heaven to the Earth with all out Houses and animals and things in it. Time is very short now, give you’re heart to God through His Son and Jesus and ME Anthony AKA Michael. We are both the SAVIOURS of mankind.
Ken Gray says
I would very much like to help poor and homeless people. Doing God’s will by helping others. The problem is that I need some earthly treasure (money) to be able to help anyone. Being poor myself makes it impossible to buy or pay for the things needed to help the poor and homeless people. I admit to God that if He let me have a financial windfall, some would go to helping me, as I am one of the poor people. Nothing fancy for me just a little bit of comfort in this miserable, useless, poverty stricken life. Is it wrong to want riches so you can help people? 40+ years of unanswered prayers and silence from God. That includes prayer for God to be involved in my life, instead of ignoring me. I am just so tired of waiting for something, anything from God. Wanting more from God includes wanting more of God Himself.
God bless you, in Jesus holy name, Amen.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5&6. I love these verses.