Ted Ancelet, National Director of Spiritual Empowerment
October 01, 2020
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 (ESV)
In this passage, Jesus connects two important concepts: our hearts and our treasures. Let’s dig a little deeper into each.
Biblically, the heart is the center of our emotions, attitudes, moods, and passions. It’s the source of thought and reflection, and it represents the idea of free will and conscience. In other words, our heart is the center of who we are. When it comes to pleasing and honoring God, heart engagement is critical (Isaiah 29:13).
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 reflects the view that our choices and actions are shaped by (and reveal) what we cherish most.
The reverse is also true: our choices and actions shape what we cherish.
This is a key spiritual principle. We often let emotion and impulse drive our decisions, sometimes incurring painful consequences. Jesus is teaching us a better way—a way of living that is meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling, as well as free from the ebb and flow of our feelings. He’s inviting us to the freedom of obedience! As we look past ourselves and live for a greater purpose, God reorders our inner world, and we find ourselves filled with joy and peace.
The Greek word used for treasure in this passage means “something of exceptional value.” By contrasting earthy and heavenly treasures, Jesus encourages us to focus on what matters most.
This begs the question, what are “treasures in heaven”?
To find our answer, let’s look to one who walked closely with Jesus during his earthly ministry, John the apostle. John gives us insight in one of his letters: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). You can feel the impact of Jesus’ teaching on John, and he instructs us how to live out the words of Christ. Laying up treasures in heaven is doing the will of God here on earth.
Thankfully, God makes his will clear: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). The common link between justice, kindness, and humility is that we express these traits in the way we relate to others. We’re created to supremely cherish relationships, not possessions.
So how do we live this out?
One way is to remember that as Christians attuned to God’s kingdom, we’re also global citizens. Our neighbors aren’t defined by proximity but need.
Every day, families around the world are forced to flee their homes and their countries because of community violence and political and economic instability. When this happens, children become vulnerable to separation and are without the care and protection of a family.
Bethany believes everyone deserves to be safe, loved, and connected. But refugee children are particularly susceptible to abuse and exploitation, including trafficking, forced labor, physical violence, and abandonment.
That’s why we offer refugee programs—like trauma-focused mental health support, foster care for unaccompanied children, and access to basic needs—in several locations around the world, specifically in these locations, where you can learn more and get involved:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Meditate on Micah 6:8 for a moment, and then consider the following:
- How is God calling you to be an agent of justice in your world?
- Who are three people who need the blessing of your kindness? Make a plan to love them well this week.
- Confess your need for God’s grace, and spend time thanking him for the many blessings in your life. Rest in his mercy and love.
Father, your good and perfect will brings us peace and joy. Help us turn our gaze from the things of this world and instead focus on that which is eternal. Give us eyes to see how we may be a blessing to those near and far, and please give us the courage to follow your lead. In your Son’s precious name, Amen.