Storing Up Treasure in Heaven: Matthew 6:19-24 (Sermon)


How much money do you need to live? Do you know? Have you ever thought about that? The number has increased with inflation, the volatility of the stock market, and uncertainty of the future. Dual income seems necessary. Even if there was no inflation, marketers tell us we need more. We need bigger houses, better vacations, and nicer cars. In my small group, we asked each other, “What are needs and wants?” What do we truly need? Anything? I am currently taking the Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University. He teaches that we want to live like no one else, so that we can live like no one else. He promotes a gazelle-like intensity to reach financial goals. The idea is to follow his baby steps:  

  1. Saving $1000 for an emergency fund 
  2. Paying off all debt, except your mortgage, 
  3. Save for a three to six month emergency fund, 
  4. Save 15% of your household income for retirement, 
  5. Save for college, 
  6. Pay off your house, 
  7. Build wealth and give.


Why does he promote those steps? Well, he tells us, it helps. It helps us not be shackled in debt and live the best life. In general, his principles are solid and biblical. They echo the advice of Larry Burkett and Ron Blue of previous generations. But what does God want for our finances? We are going back to the Bible to find answers. The Scriptures help us evaluate spending and savings, but far more than that.  


Please turn with me to Matthew chapter 6, starting at verse 19. I am going to have P.H. read for us. Would you please stand with me in honor of God’s Word? 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:19–24)


Thank you. Let’s pray. 

Dear God, thank you, Lord, for your kindness and for providing for us. We need money to live. Life is expensive. Help us, Lord. Provide for us. In Jesus’s name, AMEN. You may be seated.


You may recall that we are working our way through Matthew. The big idea of Matthew is Follow the Promised King into his Kingdom. As we explore chapters 5 through 7, we listen to a sermon by Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount. He was teaching his disciples. He began with their hearts and charged them to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world. He then set the bar for success: To enter heaven, the disciples needed to be more righteous than the religious experts of the day—the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. His disciples must become people with an appetite for righteousness. How? He answered a sample of commands found in the Old Testament. He discussed teachings on adultery, murder, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and love. The ultimate measurement of righteousness was to be like God in his complete moral perfection. How was that possible? One can’t do that. I think that was Jesus’s point. The measure was to bring the disciple back to the heart: a heart of humility and poverty, which creates a receptivity for God’s mercy. If righteousness is the goal, it is not just about following the rules. Chapter 6 tackles righteousness based on works. This was a righteousness seen through the lens of spiritual disciplines. What disciplines?

Jesus gave a sample: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Religious people sometimes give to the poor, pray, and abstain. However, some are motivated not for righteousness or heavenly reward but for something else. Like what? Do you recall? Jesus said hypocrites practice their righteousness to be “seen” by others and gentiles do righteous things to twist God’s arm. They think they can dictate God’s rewards. Jesus said neither works. Those people get their reward, but it isn’t from the heavenly Father. When we get to verse 19, Jesus addressed a different group of people, those not seeking to look religious or righteous. But this group did want a reward, an earthly one. If one group Jesus spoke to appeared religious, this group did not. Ultimately Jesus was offering us what life should be about. It is either about our kingdom or his.  


The passage we are looking at has three sections. 

  • The Commands: Verses 19 through 21 
  • The Eyes: Verses 22 and 23 
  • The Masters: Verse 24 𝄇


Let’s walk through the text verse by verse. I think we will see that the melodic line or the big idea is: 

Invest your life in heaven not earth

Let me say that again. 

Invest your life in heaven not earth


Look at verse 19. 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). 

This is a negative command that will contrast with a positive one. Jesus was not saying that investing or saving is terrible. Instead, he was using money to talk about the heart. (I am getting ahead of myself.)


Look at verse 20. 

“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). 

Jesus wanted his followers to invest in heaven. 

Invest your life in heaven

Why? Jesus told them. The earthly rewards don’t last. They do last in heaven. Look at verse 20 again. 

“neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). 

The great thing about investing in heavenly stock is that, 

  • It won’t decay or disappear, 
  • It can’t be broken or bankrupted, 
  • And it can’t tax it or take it.  


John MacArthur wrote, 

Nothing we own is completely safe from destruction or theft. And even if we keep our possessions perfectly secure during our entire lives, we are certainly separated from them at death. Many millionaires will be heavenly paupers, and many paupers will be heavenly millionaires. 


Again, Jesus was not condemning savings or investing. The Bible gives loads of principles about money. For example:  

  1. Provide for your family. 

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8).

  1. Leave an inheritance 

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22).

  1. Save 

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. (Proverbs 6:6–8)

  1. Avoid Debt 

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Jesus was not contradicting himself or God’s Word. What was Jesus saying? What do we know about heavenly rewards so far in the Sermon on the Mount? 


In Matthew chapter 5, verse 3, we read that those poor in spirit get heaven (Matthew 6:3). Jesus identified a value in being poor in spirit. This is spiritual humility. Those who have this heart stance have a heavenly reward. He also stated that those persecuted for righteousness’ sake possess the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 6:10). Thus, righteousness has a heavenly stake in the face of worldly opposition. If you think lake Michigan real estate has increased in value, consider an apartment on the streets of gold. Heaven is a reward unlike anything on earth. 

In chapters 6, verses 1 through 18, we learn that giving in secret, praying in secret, and fasting in secret somehow, procure recognition from God in heaven. He sees all and offers rewards. So, there is a reward for doing spiritual practices for God. That being the case, what was Jesus getting at? He promoted spiritual practices and a humble heart and not condemning savings. But what exactly was he saying? 


Verse 21 is the key. Jesus said, 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). 

His point was that where we invest our resources shows where our heart is. God wants your heart. Where is your heart? Take a moment to ponder that. Where is your heart? 


If we audited our time, what would we see? If we looked at our credit card statements, what would we find? If we grabbed our internet browsing history, what would we discover? We will see what we value when we deep dive into where we invest our resources. 

  • What do you treasure? 
  • What do you seek? 
  • What do you want? 
  • What do you love? 
  • What do you value? 

Where are you investing?


Let’s do an assessment. (Teachers can’t have all the fun.) Take out your connect card, bulletin, or something to write on. What is one thing you are putting more resources toward than you should? (Self-Twitter/on the phone while driving). I won’t collect these. No one has to know. This is between you and God. 

  • What do you treasure? 
  • What do you seek 
  • What do you want? 
  • What do you love? 
  • What do you value? 

God wants your heart. Where does he show up on your priorities? Jesus wanted to reform the disciple into the person God wanted him or her to be. 

  1. R.

I have a relatively wealthy friend. He left his job in Southwest Michigan to seek a better work-life balance. He didn’t want more money. He didn’t need it. What he wanted was more time with his family and God. From my seat, he had a fine problem to have. But, it was a problem. Jesus said, 

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

My friend wanted to care for his soul. He wanted to store up treasure in heaven. Like my friend, Jesus wanted his disciples to pursue God. That meant embracing the beatitudes of humility, mercy, purity, and doing the right things. God wants his people to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. He wants them to give, pray, and fast, not to show off or build a following but for a better relationship with him. How are we seeking? Where are we investing our resources? 


Jesus told a story in Matthew chapter 13 of a farmer. The farmer threw seeds all over. He might not be the best farmer, but that was not the point. Birds ate some seeds. Others fell among the rocky soil. The seeds grew and died. Weeds choked other seeds. The last group fell on good ground and bore 30, 60, and 100 fold. The seed was the Word of God. God's Word, at times invested, can bear much fruit.

In the same way, investing in heaven through prayer, giving, and fasting is a waste to some, especially if it comes at a cost. However, a tiny investment can result in exponential growth. We might like the ten-year treasury notes return at 4% or growth stock at 8% year to date; God's return is great. Consider an investment in heaven with a 1000% return. Your prayer answered, your cheerful greeting, and your text of encouragement could be the tiny seed done in the power of the Spirit and save a life. It might prevent a person from a destructive sin or lead them toward good work. Jesus was saying that investments like this had an incredible impact. God's ROI, return on investment, beats hands down any emerging market or bull run. We don't always see the results of pursuing God and his ways, investing in heaven, and turning attention to seeking God and doing things his way. No matter the cost. The apostle Paul said something like this as well. 

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1–4)

Jesus explained the importance of this in the following few verses.  


  • The Commands: Verses 19 through 21 
  • The Eyes: Verses 22 and 23 

Look at them. 

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22–23)

These might be the most challenging verses of the Sermon on the Mount. In Hebrew culture, the eye was like the heart. The eye was a metaphor. It received sight and operated like a lamp for the person. The organ was a metaphor. Jesus was saying that if what your eyes seek is good, then you are in a good place. If your eyes are pursuing the bad, you are in an unhealthy, dangerous place. We comprehend that. All temptation seems reasonable from a moment, but from the parental observation deck, we know sin results in pain and hurt. People tend to be lured by something attractive. For Adam and Eve, it was a piece of fruit. It was pleasing to the eye. It was a little deviation from obedience. A little slip here, a little compromise there, and a little lie; Friends, don’t go there. It is dark. Darkness is bad. 

What did Jesus mean by light being dark? The person going down the risky path of sin and worldliness might think it is a good way, a broad way, a pleasant way, and the right way. But, think of the lies we have told ourselves.


  • Everyone does it.
  • It is not that bad. 
  • Why would it be wrong if it feels so good? 
  • God is forgiving. I will ask for forgiveness and move forward. 
  • No one will know. 
  • I will do it once. 
  • It won’t hurt anyone. 

A light like these lies is dark. At times in blindness when people mistake what is good as bad and bad is good. Don’t they? So, stop. 

Invest your life in heaven not earth

The earthly rewards are poor substitutes for the heavenly ones. What are you seeking? May your eyes land upon the good and godly objects. 


Some of us have better eyes than others. When driving, I notice that things are glaring more at night. That is normal as we get older. If I am not careful, I might endanger myself and others later. We need healthy eyes to drive.

In the same way, we need healthy spiritual eyes to live. If we see well, we will be investing in heaven. There is a danger in our society of moral cataracts. 


Commentator R.T. France takes a stab at the concept of the bad eye making the whole body unhealthy. The connection is a selfish use of money. Focusing on some of the Hebrew, he wrote:

In view of the recognized meaning of the “bad eye” to denote selfish greed or meanness, it seems likely that this saying is meant to indicate that one indication of a person’s spiritual health is their generosity or lack of it in the use of their material possessions. R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007), 262.

Money can measure the heart. God wants us to trust him and live with open hands toward his gifts. He wants us to follow his lead in all of our dealings. 


How you view your resources impacts your soul. Are they on loan, or are they solely yours? Who kingdom are you living for, your own or God’s? 

  • What are you treasuring? 
  • What are you seeking? 
  • What are you wanting? 
  • What are you loving?
  • What are you valuing?  

What you take in affects what you do. I know that I become desensitized if I watch violent movies over time. In the same way, if I fill my eyes with Scripture, I find my heart drawn to God. If all I seek is myself, I am in a bad place. What we seek impacts where our hearts go. Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. 


Test, two. Surprise! Pick back up that one thing you value too much. Ask yourself, “Why?” 

  • Why is that? Write that down. 
  • Then ask again, “Why is that?” 
  • Now ask again, “Why is that?”  
  • Then ask again, “Why is that?” 
  • Then ask again, “Why is that?”

As we drill down into our motivations, we see what we treasure, seek, want, love, and value at a base level. We run after comfort, safety, pleasure, respect, and love. Those are fine things but nasty idols. God gives good gifts, but they are poor substitutes for himself. The big idea again is: 

Invest your life in heaven not earth

1 Timothy 5 tells us it is not money that is the root of all kinds of evil but what? The love of money. If what we love at the core is not God, it becomes an idol and a demon. 


The final section turns clearly to economics.

  • The Commands: Verses 19 through 21 
  • The Eyes: Verses 22 and 23 
  • The Masters: Verse 24 

Look at verses 23 and 24. 

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Jesus was drawing a line in the sand. We are either with God or against him. There is no middle. Again, it is not saying we don’t work, earn money, spend, or save. Jesus was going to the heart. Where is your heart? We are living for a kingdom. Which one? The one we are living in or the one to come? This one will burn. We only have so much time, energy, and money. Today is the day. Where are we going to invest? Turn to God and follow him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. 


This reminds me of Samuel Holton. Have you heard of him? Probably not. He was a Massachusetts shoe retailer in the mid-1800s for thirty-some years. He had fourteen children. He was a faithful member of his church. One day his sister reached out to him to take in his nephew as a salesman. The year was 1855. His nephew only had a 5th-grade education. He was 17. Samuel took a risk and invested in his nephew on the condition that he would attend Sunday school. That was his investment. God took that act of faith and bore fruit 30, 60, and 100 fold. That young man became a Christian at that Sunday school. He traveled to Chicago and sold shoes. And eventually, he became an evangelist and started a Bible school. Dr. Lyle Dorsett has said, “Few people have done more … to evangelize lost souls and mentor and train the next generation to fulfill the Great Commission.” That shoe salesman with only a 5th-grade education was D. L. Moody. It all came at the investment of a job and condition. Today is the only day we have, for sure. There is no promise that we will have a tomorrow. We may be taken to the Lord and face him. God is merciful. We have another chance today. Let us follow him into his kingdom. 


Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for all that you have given us. We need you. Help us know how to steward the gifts that you have provided to us.

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