“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
Jesus now shifts in the sermon to a broader conversation about the rewards he had previously mentioned, and in that shift he employs new terminology: that of treasure. This is a powerful word for us, more so than something like a wage. We recognize the importance of working to earn a paycheck—so much of our time in college can be about positioning ourselves to get a future well-paying job, or fretting about our summer prospects. But treasure is something different; it conjures up images of jewels, gold, precious things not so much earned as discovered and then protected.
This passage teaches that no matter what, we will be storing up treasure. Jesus doesn’t berate us for being treasure gatherers: he wants to harness this trait. So he uses some logic to get us to evaluate whether our treasure is really all we’ve made it out to be. He lays out on the one hand that we can spend all our energy on treasure that is both perishable and able to be robbed from us, or that on the other hand, we could run after treasure that is completely and totally secure.
Would you rather have stock in Blockbuster movies or Apple computers? The answer to that question would be a lot different now than in 1994. We have a hard time making good decisions about our treasure because we have such limited viewpoints. In college we are sold all kinds of things that should be our treasures: our boyfriends or girlfriends, our GPAs, our internships, etc. Each of these things has real value, but they are also each so vulnerable.
This vulnerability has a huge impact on us: notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be,” but instead, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be.” That doesn’t mean that the first statement isn’t in some sense true, but that Jesus is trying to highlight something for us that we can often miss, which is that what we chase after always plays a part in forming who we are. We’re slow to believe this; we like to think of ourselves as strong and independent, immune to advertising and masters of our own destinies.
Jesus wants us to be formed by heavenly things. The treasures kept there can’t be taken from us, no matter what happens on earth. They won’t dissolve, go bad, go out of fashion, or stop being useful. As we meditate on their security, we remember that it’s God in his power and love that secures them. This allows our heart to move towards a place of peace, instead of the anxiety that can form from needing our vulnerable earthly treasures to be steady.
Once again, Jesus doesn’t spell out here what exactly treasures in heaven are. This is perhaps to pique our interest, to drive us to explore them, discover them, pursue them. This topic can be so wonderful to explore with our believing friends, searching the Bible together to discover the promises of God. If you haven’t yet decided to follow Jesus, a search like this can be so illuminating as to the reasons to trust and obey him. If you do follow Jesus, it can renew your affections for him and inspire a gratitude-filled walking in his ways. Take time now to examine the treasures you are currently pursuing, and compare them with treasures in heaven as Jesus describes them, and pray that God would guide your examinations