In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus gives two commands that you must follow if you want to live a life that counts.
“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.”
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus lays out an incredible principle that Randy Alcorn calls “The Treasure Principle.” This principle, if followed, will enable you to literally build up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Herein lies the key to living a life that in God’s eyes is worthy of great reward. If you choose to live your life according to this principle, then one day, when you stand before Jesus, you will hear these words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
There are three important keys to The Treasure Principle. First, God owns everything, and you are his trusted steward. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Haggai 2:8 states, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine.” Deuteronomy 8:18 states, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” God made everything and it all belongs to Him. Moreover, everything that we have made, God has given us the ability to make. We are simply His stewards. What is a steward? A steward is one who is put in charge of an estate; it is one who is responsible for taking care of property or assets. God has given each of us a body, a mind, different abilities, and varying degrees of wealth. We are the stewards, or the caretakers, of all that God has given us. God wants us to help the lost, the sick and the poor as proper stewards of His resources. A steward manages the assets for the owner’s benefit and according to His will.
America has been blessed with great wealth. Most of us are far wealthier than people in other countries. We have been blessed in so many ways. We live in a beautiful land. We have churches on every street corner. We have Bibles galore. We have Christian radio channels to which we can listen. We have been blessed, spiritually, financially, and socially. Luke 12:48 states, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” God must expect a lot from us who have been given so much. God made us to give. If you want to feel God’s pleasure, then give. That is how you build up treasures in heaven. Remember, you can’t take it with you.
Secondly, your heart will follow where you put God’s money. In verse 21 Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is where it gets a little convicting. Jesus, in essence, is saying, “Show me your check book, your credit card bill and your receipts and I will show you where your heart is.” Jesus is not saying that if we put our money in the right place our heart will be in the right place. No. What He is teaching is that the place our money is going simply reveals where our heart already is. What God really wants is our heart.
The Macedonian believers were known for their generous hearts. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord…” These believers gave out of their extreme poverty. Why? Because they had already given their hearts to God. When God has your heart, He will change the desires of your heart, and He will enable you to give beyond your ability to give, and in so doing, you will have treasure in heaven.
Third, heaven, not earth, is our home. The Bible says that we are aliens and strangers on earth. Paul writes in Philippians 3:21 that “our citizenship is in heaven.” Hebrews 11 speaks of the believers who “were looking for a better country—a heavenly one.” If you are in Christ, then this is not your home. Heaven is! Jesus has been spending the last 2,000 years preparing a place for believers. Yet far too often believers appear to be way too enamored with this world.
It’s kind of like a man coming to New York City from Paris and renting a hotel room for a couple of weeks knowing that he is going back home soon. Yet, every day he spends most of his money on the hotel room to make it look better and to last longer—new carpets, new paintings, new bathroom fixtures. Anyone would say he was wasting his time and money. That room is no more his home than this earth is our home.
Alcorn writes this about earth: “This place is a landfill, a junkyard—the final resting place for the things in our lives. Sooner or later, everything we own ends up here. Christmas and birthday presents. Cars, boats, and hot tubs. Clothes, stereos, and barbecues. The treasures that children quarreled about, friendships were lost over, honesty sacrificed for, and marriages broke up over—all end up here. Here is the truth.”[i] For the unbeliever, this earth is the closest he will ever get to heaven, but for the believer this earth is the closest he will ever get to hell. Thus, remember what the Bible declares about those who are in Christ: Heaven, not earth, is our home.
These are the first three keys to understanding the Treasure Principle. Remember, God owns everything, and you are His trusted steward. Be faithful. Your heart will follow where you put God’s money. Be wise. Heaven, not earth, is your eternal home. Fix your eyes on eternal things. Take your eyes off of the things of this world. They are passing away. If you follow these keys, you will feel God’s pleasure and you will have treasure in heaven waiting for you.
[i] Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2017), 51.