Jesus said, “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)
A treasure can refer to something we desire deeply or something precious we hold on to. A treasure gives us joy in the present and security for the days to come. It is natural that our hearts long for what they desire or become attached to what they possess.
Jesus invites us to look at our treasures with discernment. He invites us to distinguish a futile search and transitory pleasures from what can be more lasting.
Perhaps we have already had the experience of having waited impatiently for the weekend to arrive, for some special event. But we quickly realized that it could only be a short-lived experience and that nothing fundamental had changed. Or perhaps we have worked for a long time to get a certain job, or saved a lot of money to buy a specific object. But then we realized that by the time we acquired them, the job or the object had already lost its importance for us.
It can even happen that what we thought was a treasure that would give us security for the future had lost its value. A fall in the stock market can depreciate a portfolio of shares just as radically as “moths and vermin” can destroy a harvest. An unfavorable economic climate can even cause real estate and land values to collapse.
In the face of this, the Bible never ceases expressing confidence in God’s faithfulness. Life is fragile, but God’s word never fails (cf. Isaiah 40:8). People die easily, but God’s love is everlasting (cf. Psalm 103:16-17).
Where is our treasure? Where do we find joy and security? What is our heart attached to?
For Martin Luther, this question is equivalent to: Who is our God? He writes, “Whatever you cling to in your heart is your God.” It is from him that you expect everything good, in him you find refuge in times of distress. When God tells us in his commandments not to have other gods but him, “it is as if he were saying: look to me for whatever is lacking and seek it from me. I will give it to you. Make sure that your heart does not remain attached to other things and finds no rest anywhere else.”
God is the one who deserves to be sought after and loved. He is the sure value that never changes. His love for us remains the solid ground that will never give way. On him we can build a house made of faith, hope and love. Saint Paul calls these the “three things that last” (1 Corinthians 13:13). They are also called the “theological virtues” because they are given by God and lead us to him. He and they are our “treasures in heaven.”
Where do I look for joy and security?
What kind of seeking do I think is worth continuing?
What helps me to trust in God?