I have often heard people say, usually in an appeal to evangelize, “The only thing you can take with you to heaven is another soul.” But that is not quite true. You can take a bigger soul with you – your soul, enlarged, empowered, and transformed. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus three times repeats the words, “Your Father …will reward you.” What kind of reward did he have in mind? Are heaven’s rewards like the bonus a top-tier CEO receives – but instead of a house in Malibu it’s a mansion in glory; instead of stock options it is a crown of gold? I don’t think so. The chief reward God gives, I think, happens within your soul. You are transformed into a certain kind of person – one whose earthly life is a joy and a blessing and whose heavenly future will bear a weight of glory that is unimaginable now. You are your reward – a reward that God loves to give: you, the real you, full of his life, glorified and glorious, transformed and beautiful.
You don’t have to play the game everyone else is playing, don’t have to scratch and claw your way to success in the world’s eyes. Because your heavenly Father is looking out for you, you can dare to invest in heaven. That’s why Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” If what happens on the game board of earth is all there is, then Jesus’s teaching here is just spiritual hot air and you better get what you can, while you can. But as for me, I’ll listen to Jesus. He’s the smartest person who ever lived. He knows how to live peacefully, joyfully, and purposefully. He knows from personal experience that what happens on earth is not all there is.
He tells us not to amass earthly treasures. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, one of those treasures is the approval of others, which is not a lasting treasure. Another such treasure, Jesus makes clear, is money and the things it can buy. Please understand that Jesus is explaining these things to us for our own good, because he knows how life works. It’s not that he doesn’t want us to be admired or have nice things; it’s that he doesn’t want us to break our hearts – or, worse, turn them to stone and render them unbreakable – while we spend our lives seeking things that are incapable of satisfying us.
You see, where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be. It’s a spiritual law: your heart follows your treasure. Where your thought, time and resources – that is, your treasure – go is where your heart will be. Put your treasure into clothes and that’s where your heart will go. And guess what? When your clothes get old and tattered, your heart will get old and tattered right along with them. Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be. Put your treasure in cars that rust, and your heart will rust too. It will get brittle and ugly and flake away until there nothing worth saving. Jesus didn’t tell us this to hurt us but to protect us. People all around us are losing heart – they’re being destroyed from the inside out. The word translated destroy is literally, “cause to disappear.” That is a tragic thing when it happens to people’s treasures – their bank accounts and their 501-ks – but it’s far worse when it happens to their hearts.