“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Over the last twelve to eighteen months the fortunes of many Americans have changed dramatically. People have put much stock in the new economy, in the “high tech stocks.” Many Christians also ended up with a great deal of temporal wealth invested in these through company pension plans, or private investments, or retirement accounts.
How blessed we are to possess the confidence that our fortunes have not diminished. The words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount are so important, so reassuring to us, for not only
do they give a heavenly direction to our lives, but they also give us the confidence of faith along the way.
Consider what the richest of men would say of his wealth. I don’t mean Bill Gates. This man was far richer than Bill Gates, for not only did this man possess the wealth of this world, but also the inspired wisdom of the Holy Spirit. King Solomon said, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 11:4).
The end-all, cure-all view of temporal wealth which this world holds is shown to be false even in its own experience, but the wisdom of Solomon states it clearly. There is a day of judgment, a day of wrath that is coming upon the earth, and in that day all the gold and silver in the world will not deliver from the spiritual dilemma that will face all people. It is righteousness that delivers from death. The only profitable righteousness that we can possess is that which Christ has purchased for us with “His holy, precious blood and His innocent sufferings and death.”
‘Scattering’ God’s Blessings
As we comprehend that righteousness through faith, our estimation of the value of temporal wealth is permanently altered. By the guidance of the Spirit in our hearts and lives, temporal wealth stops being the purpose for our actions and behavior, but it rather becomes a means by which we can serve our Savior. In this it actually attains a greater value for us than the world will ever know. Again the wisdom of Solomon speaks to us. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty” (Prov. 11:24).
As we have opportunity to serve our Lord and reveal His love by
“scattering” the temporal blessings with which He has showered us, we are not deprived, but enriched with His continued grace. We experience “increase” according to the grace of God. This “increase” may not be greater temporal wealth, but it may be in joy and peace. It may be in a richer appreciation of the joy that awaits us in heaven. After all, this is the treasure to which our Lord has directed us and which is assured us by Jesus’ resurrection, as Peter writes, “according to His abundant mercy (He) has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
Solomon has rightly warned, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Prov. 11:28). What the righteous know through faith in Christ is that this flourishing encompasses the spiritual and eternal. What the righteous know is that our greatest treasure, our true lasting wealth, is found in heaven with the Lord.
–Pastor Theodore Barthels