Think of a cast iron pan—well-loved, perhaps handed down for generations. It can sit unharmed on an open flame, but expose it to water and rust quickly forms. The tough fibers of a sheep’s coat, meanwhile, withstand rain and snow. Weave them into the finest sweater, though, and a tiny insect makes quick work of them. Jesus knew of a place without moths and rust but with treasures far beyond any on earth. Do you?
This month’s passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, a lengthy discourse in which Jesus shared the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and many practical instructions for how to live.
Where do you invest your time, attention, and resources?
- How might Jesus’ status as the Son of God have provided His perspective toward “treasures on earth” (vv. 19-20)? Only one who knows of different, better things could make such a statement. Explain how this perspective is also possible for believers. Stop and pray to deeply experience “the mind of Christ” in you (1 Cor. 2:16).
- We all have resources we choose to invest, whether it be possessions and finances or intangibles like time, attention, thoughts, or prayers. Some decisions lead to blessing; others, to loss. Describe a misplaced investment that caused you such loss—and how experiencing it made you feel.
- In Matthew 6:20, Christ instructs us to store up “treasures in heaven” instead. What would it look like to give your time to something connected to heaven and its rewards? To give your attention? Thoughts? Prayers? Possessions and finances?
- To shift from earthly to heavenly investing, we must change our desires. But Jesus says our heart will follow our treasure (v. 21). That means we can change our desires by altering where we place resources. Try a small adjustment and note the results. For example, if you pray for an enemy, God will increase your concern for that person.
Enslavement to financial gain is incompatible with a pure spiritual walk because it ruins devotion to God.
- The Greek verb douleuó implies something stronger than “serve” (v. 24): It means being fully subjected or enslaved. This suggests that a godly attitude toward money includes room for working hard to support oneself and others and for enjoying the Lord’s material blessings. (See 1 Tim. 5:8; Ps. 23:1-2.) But if allowed to spiral out of control, this focus becomes dangerous to the soul. Reading Scripture draws us back to the truth—gently or sharply, as required. List some other remedies.
- What does “For this reason” refer to (v. 25)? Explain that connection and how it relates to the importance of trusting God for material necessities. We may think we need more and more money for things such as food and clothing. Trusting in the Lord to provide these can have unexpectedly delightful results. How does the mention of Solomon in verse 29 indicate this?
Storing treasure in heaven is the most worthwhile thing we can do with treasure on earth.
- Many times throughout Scripture, God urges us to use what we have to receive spiritual rewards. And Jesus assures us that, ultimately, there’s no downside, only benefits. Overcoming our human inclination to cling to earthly things takes effort, but in eternity, we’ll be glad we did.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
Looking at aspects of spiritual life in a transactional or economic way, as Jesus did here, might feel offensive to some people. But thinking like this can help our understanding. Consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:14: “If anyone’s work which he has built on [the foundation of Christ] remains, he will receive a reward.” God grants blessings, both temporal and eternal, for wisely spending what we have while on earth. Comparing this verse to the words of Jesus suggests that “storing treasures in heaven” is a kind of “work” with an extraordinary and glorious return. But to have the right attitude toward spiritual labor, we need a firm foundation in the doctrine of grace, deep love for God, and willingness to separate from the world’s ways.
- Understanding grace means knowing our labor won’t save us. Only the unearned gift of Christ’s blood will. Pray for someone who believes that good deeds are adequate.
- Love for God makes us yearn to serve Him—leading to a joyful outpouring of all we have, within and without, to glorify Him and help others. Have you experienced this? In what way?
- Detaching from the priorities of the culture makes great sacrifice not only possible but also enjoyable. How has this study helped you to recognize that?
- Our relationship with what we have on earth can be complex. Resources are limited; fears abound. It takes spiritual maturity to handle our treasure wisely. Ask God to help you invest in heaven.