“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
I like the word treasure. It gives me a mental image of pirate booty, a chest overflowing with gold coins and gaudy gems. Mind you, the riches of my mental image are not authentic. More like something you’d see in an Oriental Trading catalogue, or a low budget adventure movie. Something that only has value when viewed through the lens of one’s imagination. Imagination, I guess, is a treasure in its own right.
But that’s not my intended subject for today. No, today my thoughts are centered around the definition of earthly treasures versus heavenly ones.
The treasures of this earth, as referenced by our Lord in the gospels, are easily defined. There’s money, of course, along with any conceivable shape and size of material thing. Swimming pools. Lamborghinis. Refinished hardwood floors. Tiffany lamps. Throw pillows. Starbucks. A magic washcloth you picked out of a bin at Dollar Tree. Even (*wince*) books.
We might prefer to think of earthly treasures in terms of expensive, luxury items that we can’t afford. The sad fact is, anything that makes us feel comfortable and at home in this world has the potential to be a stumbling block. There’s nothing wrong with owning fluffy bath towels, or a sweet LP collection. We just need to be mindful, to make sure our possessions occupy the proper place in our lives.
Fluffy bath towels might be quite useful in drying us off after a soak in the tub. They might even be the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can possess. But even the fluffiest bath towel in the universe will lose its fluff eventually. We can’t take it with us when we leave this life, and in the meantime, it’s not gonna help to get us where we (hopefully) want to go.
As Colossians 3v2 has it, we are to set our affections on things above. Not on earthly things.
The dangers and identities of temporal treasures have always seemed fairly obvious to me (not that I’m boasting… God doesn’t give everyone the gift of seeing through the wiles of fluffy bath towels.)
My question is, what does scripture mean when it talks about treasures in heaven? To my mind, this has always been a more mysterious consideration. Probably you ignorant bath towel people know all about this already. I didn’t, and until recently, I never bothered to deepen my casual pondering of the topic, or to study it.
If I was sure of one thing, it was that treasure in heaven is defined differently from that on earth. Even those among us who really appreciate the shiny gadgets and creature comforts of this world must be able to imagine greater things awaiting us in the next.
What we so often think of as treasures here are usually material things. Junk, in essence. I cannot claim to tell you much of what Heaven will be like, but one thing I will say with authority: Heaven is not a glorified junkyard.
What is most valuable is not material. It’s true here on earth, as well as in Heaven. Even the great majority of those who do not share my Christian beliefs value their children, their friends and neighbors, more highly than their stuff.
The most valuable thing in our existence is our relationships. Many different kinds of relationships fill our lives, and they’re all worth a great deal. But the most valuable relationship of them all is the one we share with our Creator.
Consider Job 22v25:
“If you give up your lust for money, and throw your precious gold into the river, the Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver!”
Though I’d pretty much figured out what “heavenly treasure” meant before I read this verse, it sealed the deal. The Almighty is our treasure. And one greater than we can yet comprehend! We fortify this treasure here and now, by getting to know Him better and living as he calls us to do.
I like The Message translation of Matthew 6v21:
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
When we desire Christ above any treasure this world has to offer, He will not fail to fulfill that desire. He will bring us home, into His presence. And I imagine every last shred of mystery that hides behind the idea of heavenly treasure will vanish as we are exposed to the all-powerful light of His love.
I want to close by sharing this great song by the South African band Tree63. The title, appropriately, is Treasure.
My heart is where my treasure lies
My great reward is in Your eyes
My every breath belongs to You
You are my treasure.