What could be better than the American Dream?
A steady job, money in the bank and a hefty 401(k) for retirement – coupled with a nice house in the ‘burbs, a white-picket fence, two kids and a dog, a swagger wagon for mom and a sedan for dad. Life couldn’t get any better than that, right?
Isn’t There More to Life?
I mean, do we just go through life trying to reach the next promotion so we can move into a better neighborhood with a better school system so our kids can do better than we have done?
I often think about what Jesus might say regarding the American Dream.
Would he want everyone to be a homeowner, everyone to have comfort and the security of a nice economy with nothing to worry about?
For some reason, I just can’t believe Jesus would encourage us to pursue the American Dream! Maybe I’m wrong – if so please tell me.
But here’s why I think this:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
The American Dream seems to be about earthly treasure – not the treasure of the heavenly kind! So here’s the question of the day:
“Are you building up earthly treasure, or are you storing up treasures in heaven?”
In order to answer that question we need to understand the difference between earthly and heavenly treasure and then we need to look at our own hearts to determine which one we are really living for.
The Heart of the Matter
This whole issue of heavenly versus earthly treasure really comes down to the heart. In other words, which do you love more – earthly goods or heavenly treasure?
Don’t you just love how Jesus always brings things right back to our hearts and challenges us with our idols?
Jesus has a way of reaching down to the epicenter of our souls and challenging our framework and then getting us to rethink our framework so that He is the one we are living for!
So, let me ask you: Are you constantly worrying about your money? Do you have an unhealthy preoccupation with your net worth, accumulating more wealth, becoming debt-free, investing, making more money, saving more money, or getting the next promotion?
Any one of those things can become an earthly treasure. Again, it comes down to what our hearts love more!
What is Treasure in Heaven?
In Jesus time, the Jews he was speaking to would have been very familiar with the terms “earthly treasure” and “heavenly treasure.” It was common for their vernacular. In fact, the Jews defined storing up treasure in heaven as deeds of mercy and deeds of kindness to people in distress.
Jesus, in Luke 12:33-34 NIV, gives us an idea of treasure in heaven when he says:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We see that Jesus equates selling possessions and giving to the needy as treasure in heaven. If I were to define it myself, treasure in heaven would simply be living life with open hearts and open hands.
Open hearts means we have a heart that God has – one for the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized.
Open hands means that we live life with a loose grip mentality so that our earthly goods are not used for our own contentment, but rather are used to have an impact on those who are less fortunate for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself said he had come to:
. . . proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. – Luke 4:18 NIV
We store up treasure in heaven by seeking the kingdom of God through helping others, which demonstrates the greatest of all sacrifices that God made for us!
How Do We Pursue Treasure in Heaven?
So how should we respond to this?
1. Repent from Seeking Earthly Treasure
We always need to start here any time we see that we’ve been living for something else besides Christ himself. Turn from earthly treasure and turn to God and worship Him.
2. Replace Earthly Treasure
Earthly treasure (and our love for it) must be replaced by a deeper love for Jesus. There is only one way to deal with this issue correctly and that is a reorientation back to the greatness of the gospel:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
3. Rearrange Our Priorities
Instead of living for six digits, job status, houses, cars, TV’s, vacations, comfort or security – we should be living for the next level of giving, of helping the poor and of using our money for the sake of the gospel!
In other words, our priorities should be set on simplification for the kingdom of God, not accumulation for our own earthly kingdom!
Here are some practical ways to rearrange priorites and start living for heavenly treasure:
- Build generosity into your budget – start budgeting for giving and start looking to give to others and those in need.
- Give time and money to local shelters – the Boys and Girls clubs are in desperate need of volunteers to come and spend time with disadvantaged youth. That’s one out of hundreds of organizations that need help.
- Have a garage sale or sell stuff on eBay – and give the proceeds away to a hurting family!
- Adopt an orphan or become a foster parent – there are so many kids that need good structure and parents who love them.
- Think twice – Instead of accepting a promotion based on money think about whether your job will allow you to invest into others.
What other practical ways could you share to store up treasure in heaven? Leave a comment!