Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“Treasure”. Allow me to relay a, well, what Dr. Becker might call a “joke”:

“A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus crashed as it left a New York publishing house last Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, punchy, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, boggled,  overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, and perplexed.”

A “thesaurus” is a book which is a wonderful resource for pastors, other servants of the Lord, those doing research, Scrabble players (!), as well as those who are simply searching for that right word to say or write. Throughout college, it was one of those reference books that was invaluable to all those assignments that somehow always were due the NEXT morning! Of course, y’all never had that problem.

Wasn’t that above joke FUNNY? So WHY, you ask, is this important to our study? Interestingly, the word “treasure” in our text is from the Greek word – are you ready? – “thesauros”. Its meaning is quite similar to what we have in our English language. In the Greek, “thesauros” has both a negative and a positive importance. Negatively, it is NOT worldly things! Setting that nugget of information aside, positively it IS: a place of safe keeping; a storehouse; the valuable placed in that storehouse.

With that in mind, wisely our Savior used the word “thesauros” to illustrate with great power His desire for the hearts of those who would be walking with Him – both then and now. So how about us? What is my “thesauros”? What is yours?

Our Savior is giving us 3 good principles to understand “thesauros” and to be able to answer the question, “What or Who/who is our ‘treasure’”?

PRINCIPLE #1 says “The Christian is in a battle for the world’s attitudes” (Matt. 6:19)

The amazing things about the “things on earth” – that is, things of this world – is that they are more often than not GOOD things. If they were in appearance something BAD, it would be easy to discern it as BAD now wouldn’t it? But the “things on earth”, the things which govern the world’s attitudes, are a battle ground for those who love the Lord Jesus as Savior, What things? I’m sure today the list is endless. Let me make a few suggestions. How about THINGS! A house. A BIGGER house. A house which I really can’t afford, but when I own a house it means that I have really arrived, man!

A “thing” could be a TV! I remember one Thanksgiving night standing in a long line at…you got it, Wally World (ok, Walmart). What were we in line for? A TV!!! Not just ANY tv, but a 19” tv. What? Just a puny little tv? Well, that’s all we really wanted for our bedroom. And for $70 and 3 hours of waiting, we took home our…treasure. It was a good treasure to us. And believe it or not, when we moved from that house, we were able to sell that tv for exactly $70.

How about “family”? Can your spouse or your children become “treasures”?

How about “position”? We’ve all heard the term “moving up the ladder of success”. Some people literally walk over other people – friend and foe alike – in order to get to that position in the job that they thought they MUST have in order to be considered a success, to have arrived. Believe it or not, that also can happen in a church. There are many churches where even the trustees have the mindset that “what they say goes” when it comes to the oversight of the church facilities. The Lord did not have much say in what they had “say” in!

So that is Principle #1. Our Savior begins this section with a warning. The world’s attitudes are a battle ground. It does not take much effort for the world’s attitude to become the saint’s attitude. And when the world’s attitude becomes the saint’s attitude, the Lordship of Christ is no longer the priority of that saint. Has that happened to you, to me, to our churches?

PRINCIPLE #2 says “The Christian must have a right view of himself.” (Matt. 6:20)

If we are to have “treasures in heaven” we must make at least two major decisions on earth. FIRST, we must fix in our hearts that “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through”! One of my favorite scenes in the Old Testament is when Patriarch Jacob, in Egypt, is asked by Pharaoh, “how old are you?”. Now you or I might answer “I am [x] years old.” Not wise Jacob! He had a right view of himself, knowing this world is not his home. So how does one then answer that question? Jacob said:

“The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few

and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to

the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

[my emphasis] Genesis 47:9

The psalmist was equally wise. Another classic line is found in Psalm 84:5. Here is one of the 3 blessings listed in the psalm (look up the other 2!):

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.[my emphasis]

The psalmist states his heart is set on pilgrimage. It is set. It is fixed. Why? Because he knew, as Jacob did before him, that this world is not his home!

Second, we must learn from the Scriptures what the Lord Himself determines are true “treasures”. Here is a suggested list of some good Biblical treasures:

(a). A heart which is filled with God Himself or the things of God’s Word:

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:35)

(b). Eternal profits rather than earthly profits:

“Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21 – and context)

(c). The gospel rather than a social gospel:

“whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor. 4:4 and context)

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)

(d). Filled with the wisdom and knowledge one has in Christ !!!

“For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:1-3)

PRINCIPLE #3 says “if your profits are in heaven your heart will be there, too!” (Matt. 6:21 The Living Bible)

Who should be my greatest treasure? Did you catch the question? This is not a “WHAT” should be my greatest treasure. Rather, the question rightly says “WHO” should be my greatest treasure?

That should NOT be an hard question. But for many of us – including born again, blood bought earthbound (not in heaven, yet!) sinners, it often IS an hard question. We have set aside the reminder that we are in a battle for the world’s attitudes. We DON’T have a right view of ourselves. AND, if that were not enough, we have fallen under the category of “SETTLED FOR”. We have “settled for” earthly gain rather than heavenly profits.

BUT if our treasures are heavenly, so will be our goals, our purposes, our values, our desires, our hungers while on earth.

So there you are, sitting in the huge crowd near the mountainside while the Savior is delivering the Sermon on the Mount. You say to yourself, “I’ve lived a good life. I’ve been blessed by God in so many ways. I’ve got a good nest egg. I’m set for life. But WAIT!!!! Jesus is saying WHAT??? “You’ve settled for earthly treasures, my child. Now settle for ME ALONE.”


May the Lord give each of us grace to TREASURE HIM ALONE!