In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted what he called treasures on earth and treasures in heaven. Treasures on earth are evanescent and corruptible, whereas treasures in heaven will never pass away or suffer corrosion. What one treasures matters, because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
The point isn’t that our hearts shouldn’t have any treasures; indeed, Jesus assumes that our hearts will place value on whatever we find. His point is, rather, that our hearts must treasure the right kinds of things because what we treasure determines our eternal destiny—the place of our treasure is where our hearts also will be.
What does it look like to lay up treasures in heaven? In its catalog of Old Testament saints, Hebrews 11:24-26 offers Moses as an example. Because God used the daughter of Pharaoh to deliver Moses from death as a baby, Moses grew up in the royal household of Egypt. As a royal son, Moses had the opportunity to enjoy the best the world of his day had to offer. Egypt was one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world in the middle of the second millennium BC and as a member of the royal household Moses could have tasted Egypt’s finest and experienced a long and pleasure-filled life within its kingdom.
Given the Hebrews’ enslavement to the Egyptians at the time, there would seem to have been no compelling reason for Moses to give up the advantages of life in the royal household—his treasures on earth—in order to identify with God’s people. Nevertheless, Moses rejected his privileged status as a royal son. Why? Because (1) he saw that it was better “to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (2) he “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” and (3) he “was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26).
That is, Moses believed in the God of Israel and trusted that belonging to God and God’s people—even in the midst of great affliction—was worth much more than any advantages sin could offer. To use Jesus’ language, Moses believed that treasures in heaven were far superior to treasures on earth and therefore, his heart led him to suffer with the people of God.
So what does it look like to lay up treasures in heaven? It means believing God’s promises and identifying with God’s people despite the sure affliction that will follow (Hebrews 10:32-34). God is faithful to his promises and what he promises his people—salvation, life and inheritance—is eternal and incorruptible.
Compared to the enduring and incorruptible reward for God’s people, even the longest, securest life of sin’s advantages will be fleeting and quickly destroyed. I urge each of you to lay up treasures in heaven with Moses, believe that God “rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) and find your fundamental identity with God’s people.
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