By Kevin Howell
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21
It took me some time to understand what that scripture meant. I’m sure it can be interpreted in different ways, but essentially I believe it’s referring to Heaven. It’s pitting this world against the next and the pull that each has on us. It serves as a direct question as to what matters most to us.
So much of what Jesus taught was to put less value on rituals and empty actions, and more on the heart. We all can front with our appearance and words while around others, but internally, our hearts may be the opposite.
The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and who can trust it? Well, Jesus provided a sure litmus test for the conditions of our hearts, since they can even deceive us. Where is your treasure? Where are the things that you find most valuable in life? What do you desire, covet, and value the most? What do you feel you can’t live without? As we ask those questions, they reveals where our hearts are. For some of us, our hearts are with our careers, for others it’s with our spouse or mate. Or it even can be in ministry or church. Regardless of what we treasure, there are only two places the treasure can be: this world or Heaven.
As much as we desire Heaven to be our final destination, it’s difficult to think of it all of the time, or even to keep our hearts focused on it. One of the primary reasons is that we’ve never been there; this world is all we truly know. Unless you’re Don Piper or that kid who wrote Heaven is for Real, all you know of eternity is the symbolism found in the Bible. So though we look forward to Heaven, it’s hard to treasure it above what we can see, taste, and feel. We know it will be better than this world, but in the meantime, there are some good things down here, and we tend to get preoccupied with them — no matter how sanctified, saved, and spiritual we think we are.
Despite that fact, we are instructed to “set our affections on things above, and not things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). Sounds good, but how do we do it? By discriminating how we pay our attention and time. It’s like making a purchase. You look at two different products and weigh the pros and cons. Sure, one item may be less expensive, but it may be of lesser quality than the other. It may not last as long as the other, therefore, you will likely pay more for it, in repairs and replacement, in the long run. In a simple way, that’s how we analyze our treasure. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 that the things which are seen are temporary, brief, and fleeting, while the unseen things are deathless and eternal. Basically, the things of Heaven, the spiritual, unseen things have lasting power. But everything we see — essentially everything on earth — is temporary, it won’t last, and it’s a bad investment. None of us would think of investing in a company we knew would fold in a year rather than an established business that we know will be around (think Apple vs. a start-up). But that’s the decision we make when we value temporary satisfaction more than lasting treasure.
This is not to say that temporary things have no value or purpose. There are plenty of temporary things on earth — marriage, career, money, friendship, sex (within marriage, of course) — that are good, and that God has given us for our pleasure, so enjoy. But what we should seek, desire, and place most of our efforts and attention on are the things that last beyond this earth. There are plenty of spiritual things we encounter in our lives here that have eternal value, but the three virtues that the Apostle Paul homed in on are faith, hope, and love. These are virtues that we can embody now, and that will last forever, helping us keep an eternal perspective. So our time and attention should be occupied by these three, and they can permeate everything we do on earth.
Faith: Our faith in God and His ability to work in every circumstance can be applied to our careers, marriages, relationships, and tasks.
Hope: We can perpetually live in hope — the expectation of fulfillment or success — when others doubt, or are pessimistic.
Love: We can let love — unconditional love and all it entails (1 Corinthians 13) — permeate our lives through our words, motives, and actions.
So we don’t wait for eternity to taste Heaven, we bring a taste of Heaven to earth. That way it’s easier to place our treasure in the unseen when we’re making it tangible in our temporary state. The kingdom of God is not something we’re waiting for; as Jesus said, it’s within us, now. So where is your treasure?