“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.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
In the ancient near-East, possessions such as fine clothes, precious stones and food were considered necessary to lessen anxieties and insecurity about the future. Jesus sees it differently, for from His point of view, these things do not bring about security in any way, for all can be lost, stolen or ruined in this very difficult and unpredictable world.
In the previous several verses, Jesus has been hammering away at a principle found in Matthew 6:1, namely that we should not be pious or religious to impress others with our great righteousness, for this is not the sort of righteousness that God is interested in. Rather, God is interested in a people who will follow Him, worship Him, and have relationship with Him. Jesus has illustrated this principle with three examples; giving to the needy, prayer and fasting, and now in these verses, Jesus addresses the money issue.
The accumulation of possessions does not increase a person’s security or safety; money cannot buy us years of life or a moment’s happiness. Following God in close relationship on the other hand, can ensure an eternity of riches in heaven, that nothing can guarantee on this earth, and while there is nothing inherently wrong or evil about either money or possessions, the love of either can (and will) obstruct our relationship with God, placing our eternal future at risk. Can a moment’s comfort on earth be worth risking eternity in heaven?
Sounds like a bad idea to me, and Jesus would seem to agree.
Here’s an interesting thing to consider: If you go back to the beginning of the chapter and carefully read the three examples Jesus has given, you will notice that in each one, He has given us some clear ideas about how to store up some treasure in heaven…
Take a look for yourself!