Every Thought Captive

The Treasure That Matters

"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

With these instructions to His disciples, Jesus contrasts setting our desire on the things of God as opposed to the things of men. In this way, He carries on the same theme from the beginning of the chapter (which it will be helpful to be reminded of, as this was last the subject of Every Thought Captive back in September!) In Matthew 6:1 and following, Jesus warned against practicing righteousness before men, to be seen by them and to reap the earthly reward of their praise.

Though Jesus refers to literal earthly possessions in verse 19, He is carrying on this same theme of the warning from earlier in the chapter – if we set our hearts on the things of this world, we will have our reward in them, and in them only. As things destroyed by moth and rust, and subject to being lost or stolen, they make for a poor reward. Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus says a similar thing to a rich young man, who was convinced of his own righteousness: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) After the young man leaves, sad, on account of his great wealth, Jesus tells His disciples, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

For some, like the rich young man, our identity may be tied up in our possessions, and if we would be faithful, we should let them go. But for most of us, we are called not to a life of poverty but to a life of contentment with God’s providence: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) If we try to find our security in earthly things, we will never have enough. Our possessions will be an idol, which will never satisfy.

Paul is similarly clear in his letter to Timothy:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

We see Paul preaching the same thing: be content; riches are a snare – do not set your hope on them; set your hope on God and His rich providence; be rich in good works, storing up treasure in heaven.

We should not love the world or the things in the world in a way that supplants in our hearts the desire for God. The desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life: these turn our hearts from what they should truly be set on - the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

This is the treasure that matters: the fullness of joy in the presence of God, and the pleasures forevermore at His right hand. (Psalm 16:11) The treasure that we have is our salvation, for which we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ, losing our lives for His sake and finding them again in Him. For what does it profit us to gain the world but lose our souls? (Matthew 16:24-26).

About the Author

Photograph of Nathan Davy

Nathan Davy

Associate Director of Music and Organist

Nathan Davy is the Associate Director of Music and Organist at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He is married to Laura Davy, and they have five children. When not making music he enjoys running, reading, gardening, and playing chess.