Where is Your Heart?

Part 1



Dr. John Hoole – June 25, 2017




Last week we looked at the second half of Matthew 6.  The topic was the developing of proper priorities.  We saw how that saying, my secular life is one thing and my spiritual life is another, and that one need not influence the other, would be a large mistake.  Christ is interested in our whole life, and how He can influence it all.


As I stated earlier, the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount is a call to be different from the popular culture.  In the first half of this chapter, Jesus says to his followers, “Be different from the hypocrisy of the religious.”  In the second half of the chapter, He says, “Be different from the materialism of the irreligious.”


We noted that the ultimate priority for all Christians is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31.


1 Corinthians 10:31  (NKJV)


31     Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Today, we begin looking more deeply into the last half of Matthew 6.


Matthew 6:19-21  (NKJV)


19     "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

20     "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

21     for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


Our Lord's usual method in presenting truth is to give a great principle, summed up in a few brief words, and then to develop that principle in the explanation that follows. This is the process he follows in this very logical passage.




This is a command – an injunction - "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."  This is a command that sums up what He is going to say in this section on this subject.




          We are to obey them!!


Our Lord is gracious, in that He does not leave us here with a blunt command, but goes further to explain what it means - its importance and what is expected.  He also indicates the difficulty we will have along the way – or identifies the pitfall of incorrect priorities.




He does not say that treasures are wrong – for in one statement He tells us not to lay up treasures but in the other He instructs us to do so.


In the real estate business, we have all heard the statement: “The three most important thing is location, location and location.”  The major difference between these two statements given by Christ is location.  The whole issue here hangs on these two words (phrases): on earth or in heaven


In a moment, we want to look at what “earth” and “heaven” specifically mean.  But first notices that Jesus is speaking of the here and now.  He is instructing us about things that we are to do right now, and continue to do until He comes.


That means that in either case, whether we are laying up treasures on earth or in heaven, the laying up is something we do right now just as He has throughout this sermon.  It is something that occupies the time of our earthly existence.  We are, right now, either laying up treasures on earth, or laying up treasures in heaven.  In other words, it is something we can do every day.


The question:  Where am I laying up treasures?  Am I earthly-minded or heavenly-minded?  Am I enthralled with the temporary or the permanent?  Jesus uses three examples to show how the things we deem most important are only temporary.  He uses the moth, rust and the thief.




We all know that when moths get into our clothes, they eat holes right through them.  The moth is a tiny little butterfly-looking that doesn’t appears harmful at all.  But it will destroy the most expensive, elaborate fabric you could evert own.  Here ae a couple of Scriptures that talk about the moth and its ability to destroy garments.


Job 13:28 NIV


28     So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.


Isaiah 50:9 NKJV


9       Surely the Lord God will help Me; Who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; The moth will eat them up.


James 5:1-2 NKJV


1       Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!

2       Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.


What does the moth signify?  To us wealth is money, land, houses, and cars, but in biblical, clothing was a key part of a person’s wealth.  For an example of this, let’s look at the life of Joseph in Egypt.


During a time of famine, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain.  Earlier, these sons had sold Joseph into Egypt.  When they came to Egypt, they did not know that the person they were dealing with to get grain was their brother, Joseph.


In Genesis 45, we see Joseph finally telling his brothers who he was.  He gives them the grain they need, plus a few items for their journey home.


Genesis 45:21-22 NKJV


21     Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey.

22     He gave to all of them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.


                   Joseph gave changes of garment.


We find a similar statement about what Achan had done in sinning against God, causing them to be defeated in the littler city of Ai.  When his sin was uncovered, this is what Achan said


Joshua 7:20-21 NKJV


20     And Achan answered Joshua and said, "Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done:

21     When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it."


                   Among the valuable things Achan took, along with silver and gold, was a beautiful garment.




We lived for two winters in Fairbanks, Alaska, back in the middle 60s.  I remember the first year’s snowfall was over 140.”  So that traffic could continue to flow, salt was used to break up the snow and ice.  This becomes brutal to cars.  Salt and moisture causes cars to rust quickly.  You could have the nicest vehicle in the world, but eventually, because of the snow and slush and all the salt that gets on your car it begins to rust.


What does rust represent?  It represents that which “eats into” and destroys things more durable than clothing.  Rusting, or iron oxidation, will eventually corrode all metal, including silver and gold.  All of our physical treasure will deteriorate in time.  Once moths and rust settle on an object, they gradually eat their way from the exterior to the interior.  Beyond their ability to destroy physical objects, moths and rust represent the decay of a person’s life.


James 5:2-3 NKJV


2       Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

3       Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.




Houses in the Middle East in Bible times, were frequently made of sunbaked clay or loose stones.  Because of this, thieves found it comparatively easy to dig through the wall to enter and steal.


With money and riches comes great fear of someone taking them.  So mankind does all in his power to protect what is he/she has.  In many places around the globe, owners put walls around their home so none can get in.  The very wealthy have security guards and have safes for their costly or rare jewels.  The thief’s intent is to break through the exterior to have access to take what belongs to the owner.  In many cases, the thief will do almost anything to obtain it.


Luke 10:30 NKJV


30     Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.


Moth and rust attack consumable things, but thieves look to steal enduring treasures for themselves.  But, taken together, all three are stealthy destroyers.  Each of them happen silently and you or I are unable to know if we are not alert.


Before addressing what constitutes the “treasures in heaven,” we need to understand that Jesus is not here, or any other place, advocating a life of poverty as a means to some level of spirituality.


If you examine the Bible carefully, you will see that far from condemning the possession of private property, the Bible actually assumes the rightness of it.




Abraham was extremely rich for his day.  He was a person of great wealth, influence and even military power.  When we first meet Job in the Bible, he is enormously wealthy.  When we leave him – after the testing that cost him everything he possessed outside of his own life – God has made him wealthier still.


Job 42:12  (NKJV)


12     The LORD blessed the latter days of Job's life more than his beginning.


This blessing was more than some spiritual, immaterial blessing.  Verse 12 continues by saying that the blessing included: flocks and herds, sons and daughters, and in a healthy long life.


The Bible gives considerable counsel for working hard and following good business practices. (See Matthew 25:27).  Jesus did not specifically require any of his disciples to give up all their money and other possessions to follow him -- although some of them may have voluntarily done so.


Both the Old and New Testaments recognize the right to material possessions including money, land, animals, houses, clothing, and every other thing that is honestly acquired.  Many of the promises made by God involve material blessings, to those who belong to and are faithful to Him.


The foundational truth that underlies the commandment not to steal or covet, certainly infers the right of personal property.  Stealing and coveting are wrong because what is stolen or coveted rightfully belongs to someone else.


Ananias and Sapphira did not forfeit their lives because they kept back some of the proceeds of the sale of their property -- but rather because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3).  Peter made it plain, when speaking to them, that after they sold the property, what they possessed was still in their control.  They were never commanded to give it all away.


1 Timothy 6:17 tells us that the Lord “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”  In this Passage God tells us not only to be thankful, but to enjoy the blessings He gives and this includes material blessings.  That verse is specifically directed to “those [in the church] who are rich in this present world.”  And yet it does not command, or even suggest, that they divest themselves of their wealth -- but rather warns them not to be conceited about it or to trust in it.


It is right to provide for our families, to make reasonable plans for the future, to make wise investments or to have money to carry on a business, or give to the poor, and support the Lord’s work.  It is being dishonest, greedy, covetous for more, stingy, and miserly about possessions that is wrong.  In Proverbs 6:6-8, God uses the example of the ant as a model of a good worker, who gathers provisions during the summertime harvest, in order to provide for her family’s well-being after the time of harvest had ended.  We should do likewise.


We are told that “in all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23).  Again, in Proverbs 24:3-4, it states, “by wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”


Proverbs 28:19 adds: “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.


This certainly is not saying poverty is an attribute of spirituality.  But neither is it saying that affluence is a sign of spiritual maturity.  One more Passage is worthy of note here.


1 Timothy 5:8  (NIV)


8       If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Now, someone might ask, “Didn’t Jesus instruct someone to sell all that he had and give to the poor?”




Only once - in Matthew 19:21 – to the rich young ruler.  In that particular case, the young man’s wealth was his idol -- it therefore represented a special barrier between him the lordship of Jesus Christ.  That occasion provided an opportunity to test whether or not that man was fully committed to really turning over his life to Christ.  And his response proved that he was not.


The problem this man had - and any one of us can have - is not in the wealth itself – but in whether we are willing to part with it, should the Lord ask us to do so.  If we are not willing to part with what we possess, if He asks it of us, then we are holding them too tightly.


Even though Jesus did say in this case for the young ruler to give away his riches and possessions, it must be noted that He did not say that to Mary or Martha or Lazarus or to John the apostle, or to Zebedee.  Each of these had possessions and property.


In this as in many other areas of the Christian life, the true solution does not lie in abstinence or total withdrawal.  It lies in the proper use and proper estimate of the things which God has provided.  In other words, we are not called upon to relinquish things but rather use them under God’s direction.


God’s principle for his people has always been, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”


So, Jesus is not saying it is wrong to have possessions.  But the Bible does warn against accumulating wealth and possessions for its own sake (Proverbs 23:4).  And are the treasures we have here are earth the only treasures we have, or have our activities and energies and skills generated treasures in heaven?




He is teaching us not to put our trust in earthly treasures.  They will surely let you down.


Several years ago Christina Onassis died at the young age of 37.  One magazine carried the comment of her step-sister Henrietta Gelber.  She said of Christina,


“She was one of those people who would never be happy.  She would become impatient.  It had all come too easily – all the money, few real responsibilities.  She lacked a sense of achievement.  What she was striving for was virtually impossible in her situation.  She had houses all over the world, but she never really had a home.”


Jesus knew that money would never fully satisfy.  That is why He warned us not to store up material possessions for this life only.  Why will possessions not be the ultimate satisfier?  Material possessions at best are only temporary.  In fact, Jesus tells us they can be here today, and gone tomorrow.


Don’t hold too tightly to this world’s goods.  Don’t make the resources of this world the things in which you put your trust and confidence.


When I was planning for retirement, and looking at it closely in final decade of employment, I have had to keep my priorities in order.  Though I want to ensure, as much as possible, a comfortable retirement, I asked the Lord to remind me in Whom the ultimate source of security is found.


When we accumulate possessions simply for our own sakes….those possessions become idols.  If they are hoarded to spend selfishly, they become a spiritual hindrance and are subject to loss through moth, rust and thieves.


It is not the money or possessions that you or I have that gives them real value or not.  It is whether they have any eternal value attached to them.  Possessions that are wisely, willingly, and generously used for kingdom purposes can be a means of accumulating heavenly possessions.


And that takes us second part of Jesus’ command - to lay up treasures in heaven.  In this Passage, Jesus is serving as an investment counselor for us.  His assumption is that all of us will have some concern about our future and will make investments for it.  And as our counselor, He wants to set us on the right course.


One of the key factors by which those who study human behavior measure maturity – or the change between childhood and adulthood, is the ability to defer gratification.


Jesus is assuming that the people to whom He is speaking are storing up something for the future.     But the question is, are we storing up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven?  How far into the future does our concern go?


Jesus advocates storing up eternal treasures in heaven because they are so much more valuable than any treasures we can store up on earth.  And also consider that both the deferment and the gratification are progressively increased.


As our wise investment counselor, Jesus reminds us that if we are committed to storing up material treasures that are valuable only in this life, we are making a foolish choice, because there is a wonderful alternative.


Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.