The relationship between treasures in heaven and the heart form a reciprocal relationship. After affirming treasures in heaven, Jesus concluded with this statement in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So when we seek after treasure in heaven our hearts are turned heavenward and when we seek after earthly treasure our hearts are turned toward earthly things.
This means the more we seek after treasures in heaven the more our hearts become focused on treasure in heaven, hence the more we pursue treasure in heaven. This treasure cycle is exponential in its growth process. However, it also works the other way if we are not careful.
A focus on accumulating earthly treasure can very quickly turn our hearts toward earthly things, which continues increasing our focus on pursuing earthly treasures. Making the matter worse is there are a whole group of people around you who will give you accolades and admiration for not only pursuing but also obtaining earthly treasure. Comparably few people will give you significant accolades for pursuing spiritual treasure over earthly treasure. The world likes earthly treasure and handsomely rewards those who achieve it. Spiritual treasure, on the other hand, can make the world uncomfortable.
Let’s say that because we understand the words of Jesus and their implications, we desire to use this life to store up as much treasure in heaven as possible. How do we do it? Fortunately, there are two important behaviors specifically identified with storing up treasure in heaven.
One of the behaviors specifically associated with gaining treasure in heaven is enduring persecution on earth. In Matthew 5:11 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
I don’t know about you but when these things happen to me, I don’t feel very blessed. So why then should we feel blessed when we endure this kind of treatment for being followers of Jesus? In Matthew 5:12 Jesus gives us the answer. He says, “Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Notice this assumes that not only is your behavior very godly, but also your response to persecution and suffering is godly as well. How can you respond to persecution with godliness? By experiencing ongoing spiritual growth. Hence ongoing spiritual growth results in greater treasure in heaven.
Giving to the Poor
Another action Jesus clearly identified with storing up treasure in heaven is giving to the poor. One day a rich young man approached Jesus and wanted to know what good thing he had to do to gain eternal life (Matthew 19:16). This is another version of the question, what good behavior must you engage in to gain treasure in heaven?
So Jesus responded and said obey the commandments. The man countered by asking which ones. Jesus followed up and listed a few. The young man then said, “All these I have kept….What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20).
The man knew in the depth of his being he lacked something. So Jesus responded in Matthew 19:21, “If you want to be perfect go sell your possessions, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Jesus made a direct correlation between selling one’s possessions, giving to the poor, and storing up treasures in heaven. Unfortunately for the rich young man, he had a lot of money he did not want to part with, so he walked sadly away.
Clearly, giving to those in need is one way, according to Jesus, to store up treasure in heaven. Who then is able to have the courage to give to those in need? It is the followers of Jesus experiencing the greatest spiritual growth.
So this week, think of persecution you are experiencing. Remember you are blessed because of it. Also think of someone in need and provide for them. You will gain treasure in heaven!