This one is familiar and you may know it by heart. You at least know the gist of it: Don’t gain lots of possessions and treasure here on earth because it won’t go with you to Heaven. This is the easy take away, but I’m certain there is more to what Jesus means and more we can each glean from these verses.
Let’s start on the last verse: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is the punch line. Ultimately, it is about the location of our heart, which is the intent of Jesus’ lesson. It is clear throughout Scripture that when asking for our heart, (our spirit, our being) God does not want just part, but everything. When He asks for our heart He knows that our actions, words, and choices will follow.
In our passage it seems Jesus is taking a different tactic to get us to the same point. Instead of just asking for our heart, He is teaching us the wisdom and discipline of getting it to Him by way of choosing and acting towards what we value; showing us that they are connected.
The language of treasures, moths, rust, and thieves, is all simply language used to help shape our understanding. I don’t believe He is directly saying not to buy things on earth for it could be stolen or destroyed. However, I do believe that He is indicating that it can hold us back from truly seeking and learning the discipline to invest in His Kingdom. My paraphrase of these verses would be, “Build up treasures in heaven, and invest in me and my Kingdom values, for that is where I need your heart to be.”
The practical question is, “How do we build up treasures in heaven?” Do what Jesus does. Pursue what Jesus values. Love who Jesus loves. Keep reading through Matthew and it will be made clear.
Lord Jesus, teach us how to invest in your Kingdom and love what you love. Help us to have the discipline to make the choice to invest in Kingdom values over earthly values. Help us to hold loosely to the treasures we have here, be it things, jobs, body, identity, or people. We want our heart to be where our treasures are - with you. Amen.
North Park Theological Seminary