The argument has been settled in preceding articles about the lawfulness of wealth and riches for Christians. We’re to work hard and trust God to legitimately create all the wealth we can. Now, having acquired wealth, how should we use it? How are we to use the financial and material gifts God has given us to further attract his blessings and secure for ourselves eternal rewards? This article will focus on the use of wealth in ways that bless men and glorify God. We’ll explore the Scriptures briefly to find out what it means to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.
St. Matthew 6:19 “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal;
St. Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal;
St. Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (WEB).
In the passage above, the Lord Jesus warned against the amassing and piling up of wealth on earth for wrongful purposes. The Bible encourages us to depend on God and work hard to create wealth, while also warning us against the hoarding of riches and the use of wealth in ways that don’t glorify God. We’re to create and use wealth to meet legitimate needs, not pile them up or hoard them for selfish interests! In the use of the gifts God has given us, the Lord makes it clear that our focus should be heavenly. What does it mean to pile up treasures on earth? What does it mean to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven? Let’s examine some more portions of the Scriptures for a clearer understanding of this issue.
St. Luke 12:16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.
St. Luke 12:17 He thought to himself, ’What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
St. Luke 12:18 “Then he said, ’This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.
St. Luke 12:19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
St. Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ’You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
St. Luke 12:21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (NIV).
The parable above described the life of a rich man who was a perfect example of those who assiduously store up for themselves treasures on earth. He was blessed with plenty and was rich, a sign of divine favour. He decided to build bigger barns to store his plentiful harvest. This was a wise decision, for to save excess wealth is a prudent thing. However, his plans for his stored wealth revealed his gross selfishness and self-centeredness. His purpose for amassing wealth was to indulge his base lusts and drown his soul in carousing. His gathering of riches was to finance a lifestyle of gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery. He didn’t care about the poor and the needy around him. He didn’t care about the ministers of God. He didn’t care about the work of God on earth. All he cared about was his belly! When we pile up wealth only to consume it upon our lusts, we have nothing laid up for us in heaven. When we use our wealth to intimidate and oppress the poor and the needy, rather than to relieve their needs, we’re just piling up treasures that will be destroyed by rust, moth and thieves. Such wealth will yield no eternal rewards! When we’re rich materially but are not rich in charity and piety, our riches will be in vain, as they will fail us here on earth, and will not be recognised or honoured in heaven above! When we amass riches by defrauding and violating the poor, we should weep and howl, because not only will such riches be destroyed and plundered on earth, they will provoke God’s fiery judgement and wrath against us!
James 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.
James 5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
James 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
James 5:4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
James 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
James 5:6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
James 5:8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (NIV).
Riches are only of temporal value if they are not invested in things eternal. The way we use our wealth in relation to the poor and needy among us determines to a great extent if we’re just laying up treasures on earth that will not outlast us, or if we’re truly laying up eternal treasures in heaven. Jesus’ encounter with a rich ruler showed us one way through which we can lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. As part of the answer to his question on how to inherit eternal life, Jesus told the rich man to extend charity to the poor and to become his disciple. The rich man was assured he would have treasures in heaven by extending help to the poor. That gives us a clue as to how to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven- when we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord, and we will not lose our reward! By so doing, we’re laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven!
St. Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
St. Luke 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good —except God alone.
St. Luke 18:20 You know the commandments: ’You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ “
St. Luke 18:21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
St. Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (NIV).
St. Luke 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
St. Luke 14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
St. Luke 14:14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (NIV).
Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed (ESV).
When we invest our lives, time, and other resources in the service of God, we’re laying up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Our labours of love in Christ have eternal rewards. Any deed done for the sake of the Lord and for the sake of his gospel is like making a deposit into our heavenly account. When we give even a cup of cold water to a servant of God, we’re laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven. When we give to support God’s work and God’s people, we’re enriching our heavenly account. We’ll reap whatever we sow. When we sow to the flesh (by indulging our lusts with our wealth), we shall reap destruction. When we sow to the Spirit (by investing in things eternal), we shall reap everlasting life and everlasting rewards.
St. Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
St. Matthew 10:41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
St. Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (NIV).
Philippians 4:14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
Philippians 4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
Philippians 4:16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.
Philippians 4:17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.
Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (NIV).
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Hebrews 6:11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized (NIV).
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Galatians 6:8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (NIV).
In conclusion, creating wealth and being rich is not a problem for a Christian; the problem lies in the way we use our riches. We can either pile them up on earth and use them in selfish and self-centred ways, or we can lay them up in heaven, by using them to foster God’s work and support God’s servants and the poor. Money is meant to be used to meet needs. However, the needs we decide to meet with our money will determine if we’re just wasting our resources on earth, or if we’re making eternal investments with them in heaven. John Wesley’s governing philosophy on the creation and utilisation of wealth captures this principle succinctly: “make all you can, save all you can, give all you can”. If we give all the money we can save to help the poor, the needy, God’s ministers and God’s work on earth, we’d be laying up for ourselves immense treasures in heaven!
Matthew 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Matthew 25:33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Matthew 25:36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
Matthew 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
Matthew 25:38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
Matthew 25:39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matthew 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
Matthew 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.
Matthew 25:44 Then they also will answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?
Matthew 25:45 Then he will answer them, saying, Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.
Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (ESV).