Treasuring Up Treasures

“No one is able to serve two lords; for either he will hate the one, and he will love the other; or he will cleave to the one, and he will despise the other. You are not able to serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24).

“And I say to you, Make to yourselves friends by the unrighteous mammon, that when it fails they may take you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).

“And Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you that a rich man will with great difficulty enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And His disciples were exceedingly astonished when they heard this, saying, Who then can be saved? But having looked at [them], Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:23-26).

Some may argue that Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24 are “too black-and-white” with no room for gray, too straightforward and stifling without the least bit of compromise.  There is no serving to two lords or masters.

Different commentators have said different things about Luke 16:9.  I think this passage has something to do with using wealth as a tool or a means of magnifying Jesus Christ in how the Christian interacts with others, specifically in evangelistic opportunities.

Francis Bacon writes (not a promotion of Bacon as a true Christian):

“I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue. The Roman word is better, impedimenta. For as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue. It cannot be spared, nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it, sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. So saith Solomon, Where much is, there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner, but the sight of it with his eyes?” (Francis Bacon, Of Riches)

In light of Matthew 19:23-26 wealth can pose a serious impediment to the rich man entering the kingdom of God (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9).

“Sell your possessions and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not grow old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where a thief cannot come near, nor moth can corrupt. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34).

Jesus instructs His disciples how and where to orient their hearts.  For the true Christian, possessions or (relative) riches ought not be an impediment but an instance of glorifying God through Jesus Christ with their money.

“The one stealing, let him steal no more, but rather let him labor, working the good [thing] with the hands, that he may have [something] to give to the [one] that has need” (Ephesians 4:28).

Laboring in order to give is a great instance of treasuring up treasures in Heaven.

“Do not treasure up for you treasures on the earth, where moth and rust cause to perish, and where thieves dig through and steal. But treasure up for you treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust cause to perish, and where thieves do not dig through and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).