What was Jesus prohibiting when He told us not to lay up treasure for ourselves on earth? Scripture nowhere forbids ownership and investment in property or business. The anarchist idea that property is theft does not come from the Bible. Jesus commends putting money to work (Luke 19:11-26). Scripture praises the ant for storing in the summer the food it will need in the winter, and condemns the believer who makes no future provision for his family (Prov.6:6ff.; 1 Tim.5:8). Lack of future financial planning is regarded as irresponsibility.
What then was Jesus prohibiting? Living only for this life, loving the things of this world, purely selfish and excessive accumulation of wealth, lack of compassion for those in genuine need (the ‘undeserving’ poor), the foolish fantasy that happiness is to be found in materialism. To lay up treasure on earth does not mean being prudent and responsible by making sensible provision for the future, but being covetous like misers who hoard, and materialists who are greedy. It is thinking that you are the owner rather than the renter of earthly goods; the creator rather than the steward of all that you have. Storing up treasures on earth for yourselves, says Jesus, is foolish because they do not last. Moth and rust destroy earthly treasures and thieves break in and steal them. Nothing can protect your investments if businesses can go bankrupt, banks can fail, currency can be devalued, inflation can occur, stocks can collapse, property values fall, and taxes can rise.
Instead, Jesus teaches us to store up our treasures in heaven, which do not deteriorate but last forever. To store up treasure in heaven is to do anything on earth which will last for eternity. It is a good investment. What are such heavenly investments? The development of a Christ-like character: the fruit of the Spirit; growth in the knowledge of God; investment in the lives of others, especially in bringing them further into the kingdom of Christ; the use of our money and resources for the growth of the kingdom, which is the only investment whose dividends are everlasting. What we freely give away can never be taken from us by any earthly circumstance. We will always have the knowledge that our investment was worthwhile. Our hearts follow our interests and investments. Our lives are blessed by the investments we make. Where we put our treasure, our heart will be also. It is better to put it where it will have lasting good.
Behind our choice between storing up treasures on earth and treasures in heaven, there is our choice between two masters – whom we are going to serve: God or Money.
How can we make sure that we are choosing God over Money? How can we make sure that Money is our servant and not our Master? By giving it away. We are freed from money’s power when we give it away to serve God and His kingdom, to do good, to support kingdom activities. Money cannot do much good when it is stored up on earth. It is when it is released in God’s service that it can do much good and it can bless our souls. (TED SCHRODER)