How do your appearance and your material goods affect the way others treat you? What about other Christians?
This Bible passage warns us how possessions can divide our mind so that they control our direction in life. In so doing, they capture our hearts, and then control our will and aspirations. Yet, we all need various kinds of possessions in order to live, such as food, housing, transportation, clothing, and such.
Jesus is not condemning personal possessions; rather, He is challenging the focus of our hearts.
If we gave up everything, we would not be able to function in society, nor be a blessing to others. At the same time, we cannot have our hearts set on possessions; we need to trust in our God as Provider. God provides us with all we need; it is our responsibility to work, using our gifts and abilities, and not be lazy. Thus, when we live for possessions, and we set our minds on the accumulation of wealth and things, we miss opportunities and marks He has for us. Our hearts become divided. Our attention and devotion go to things that have no real meaning, that will rot away, while things of real, eternal value are ignored. The fleeting, controlling issues in our lives capture our Will and time, while the real work of the Church and our call sit unanswered and unaccomplished.
Do not store up treasures on earth: Possessions take a powerful toll on the human mind. They cause our focus to be distracted from our primary purpose and call, to glorify our Lord. Possessions cause corruption as they often lead people to do what is unscrupulous and depraved.
People in Jesus time would either bury their treasure in caves and under their houses so robbers could not find it. Yet, thieves could still look, find it, dig it out, and steal it. Some wealthy people put their valuables and money in the temple where no thief would dare to go. But, the invading, occupying armies would take it. Some invested in the money changes, and various businesses and trade, which, like today, would close, go bankrupt, or be embezzled. Each of these became temporary. Clothing, which was a very expensive and valuable possession, would get moldy, rot, or be eaten by moths. The iron strongbox, where money was kept, would rust. The money would be lost as it rusted in the sand. And anything else of value would eventually rot.
Rust is a general term that refers to anything that can, and will corrode and decay, by rust, mildew, bugs, weather, wood rot, and anything destroyed by fire. The Jewish book, Tobit 4:7-10, speaks the same theme; perhaps Jesus is again challenging the Jewish leaders with their own teachings. Sometimes, just because we may know something, it does not mean we do something! Other Jewish teachers taught that if you were generous to others, God would help you. When we lay up treasures with God, they last for eternity, which is our home and world to come.
The love of money, temptations of gathering wealth, and the desire to be rich has led astray, and destroyed countless people over the centuries (1 Tim. 6:9-10)!
Later on, in Matthew, Jesus describes the difficulty of lovers of money entering the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19: 16-26). It is difficult, but not impossible. They have to overcome the desires that can easily enslave us! Be careful, for while wealth and riches are not evil in and of themselves, they usually will become our “god”!
Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)!
Why is it important that Jesus challenge the focus of your heart? What is that focus?
If your treasure is on earth, your heart will undergo many disappointments, and the storms of life will overwhelm you (Matt. 7:24-27; Heb. 10:32-39)! All of the things in life in which you find your primary joy are suddenly gone (Luke 12:33-34; 1 Tim. 6:17-19)! Then what will you do and feel?
How can your purpose in life be governed with godly goals and direction? How can you prevent darkness? These questions will determine how you respond to this passage and to life!