“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
I write this blog on September 11, 2012. Eleven years, to the date, of when 19 men flew four massive airplanes into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in D.C and one plane, intended for the White House, that never hit its target because people on the flight dared to stand up against the criminals that hijacked the plane, and thus it crashed in a field before it hit its intended target. 2,977 people were killed that day in this extreme act of cowardice and terror and pursuit of their eternal promises.
Our world calls them suicide bombers. I call them men who are faithful to their extreme belief, in what they believe, the Islam faith teaches them. There is much confusion in how to translate what the Koran teaches, just as there are many confusing things that Christians teach and do based off their understanding of what the Bible teaches. There are extremists in every faith. Christianity has too many stories in its history of men and women taking their Bible passages out of context. The crusades (1096-1155 AD) would be one perfect example of this.
When men and women begin to act out their selfish motives, and justify their actions by using scriptures out of context, people die violently, painfully, nonsensically, and what a tragedy it all is.
I want to compare a couple of teachings. One from the Koran and the other from the Holy Bible. Muhammed says one, Jesus says the other.
I’ll start with the following passage in a Web-based version of Islam’s book, the Koran. “Verily, for the Muttaqun [righteous], there will be a success (paradise); gardens and grapeyards; and young full-breasted maidens of equal age; and a full cup (of wine)” (An-Naba 78:31-34).
After reading that text above, you may wonder if you heard wrong about a promise of 72 virgins in a heaven that Muhammed describes. The mention of 72 virgins is not in the Koran, but is actually in what is called the “Hadith” which is basically a collection of sayings from Muhammed. In the Hadith, Muhammad is recorded as saying… “The least [reward] for the people of Heaven is 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome of pearls, aquamarine and ruby.” — Hadith number 2,562
The other teaching I want to compare with the one from the Koran is the passage this blog is about. Matthew 6:19-21. Matthew records this teaching that Jesus taught. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Here’s the bottom line. Both teachings promise things in the eternal life. Both recognize that mankind is motivated by ownership and receiving…usually material goods. What’s the difference in these two teachings?
One teacher teaches that faithfulness to his teachings will be rewarded with full breasted women and virgins, wine, and servants, among many other things.
The other Teacher teaches that those who are faithful to His ways will be rewarded with eternity in the presence of the Creator and the Savior and the Holy Spirit.
Both faiths reference rewards of jewels, gold, joy, pleasure, etc, in eternity.
Both faiths reference sacrifice.
Both faiths reference living more for the eternal life than this temporal life.
So are they really different?
Yes…they are very different. Just as a bird compared to a human, in which both have many similarities, they are extremely different.
Only one faith, of these two, references laying down your own life so that others may live. Jesus teaches that there is no greater love than someone who lays down his/her life for others. A Muslim extremist believes that if he/she lays down his/her own life and kills others(especially non-Muslims) will be rewarded with the above referenced items of heaven.
The extremists in both faiths seem to understand Heaven as a place of self-reward.
True Christianity, as Jesus taught it, is less about material goods and physical pleasures and more about being allowed in the presence of Almighty God. I like to think of Heaven more as a person that a place. Albeit, it is still a place. But I believe that Jesus taught us to be focused more on the Father of Heaven than on the frills of Heaven.
This Matthew passage is the one time Jesus actually says to store up for yourself. My selfish nature, that tugs at my heart and mind daily, gets excited and manipulates me to start thinking that Heaven is all about me. However, my Spiritual nature kicks in and reminds me that everything is about God the Father and Jesus Christ, His sacrificial Son. In this battle between my selfish nature and my spiritual nature, on a good day, selfishness is forced to tap out.
When Jesus says to store up for myself, and then He gives me a description of what I should be putting into storage for future use, He clearly designates material things as trash, rust, and moth food. What does that leave us to store up for ourselves in Heaven, and how do I actually store them?
I believe that God does the “storing” by recording.
God’s Holy Scriptures give us a few hints about the Lamb’s book of life and also mentions that everything on earth is being recorded from Heaven, and even references that we will have to give an account of even, every idle word we have spoken.
Is it possible that every time we bring a little bit of Heaven onto earth, that act puts a deposit of some kind into storage in Heaven for later use?
Give a cup of cold water to the thirsty and your storage unit gets a contribution. Giving food to the homeless and your storage unit is opened again and something is stored away for future use. Clothing to the naked. Visit the prisoner. Care for the orphan and the widow and anyone who is sick. Giving a bicycle to a less fortunate kid at Christmas. Buying a pair of Toms shoes and giving a pair to a kid without shoes. Writing that check for 1 million dollars and giving it to your local church. Holding the door open for the elderly couple walking in behind you. Praying with someone who is in despair. Giving advice to someone needing a little direction. Listening to someone pour out their story of tragedy and not judging them for it. Teaching that Sunday School class. Committing an hour a week in the nursery of your church. Being a youth volunteer. The list of things you and I can do, in the name of Jesus, that brings a touch of Heaven onto this crazy earth goes on for eternity.
I’m not sure what gets stored away in the heavenly storage unit I’m imagining.
My guess is that it has very little to do with material goods. According to the Bible, the asphalt of Heaven is Gold. I don’t know of anyone storing up asphalt today on earth, but we sure do store up gold. That gold will be beautiful asphalt in eternity. I think our life here on earth confirms that our storage units in Heaven are not full of material goods. We acknowledge here on earth that material goods are simply temporal. Ask an elderly family member, laying on their hospice bed, what treasure is. I have spoken with many people while they are dying on their hospice bed. Never have I heard one say they wished they would have gotten the Sunday NFL ticket on their Dish Network, or had a bigger diamond on their wedding ring, or put more hours in at the office, or furnished their house with nicer things. No. They wish they would have watched more of their family members playing football, cashed in their diamond to feed starving children, spent more hours in the homes of their grandchildren, furnished their house with neighbors, family and friends and demonstrated to just one more about the love of Jesus Christ.
I have met too many who have too many regrets in their life. They regret to acknowledge that Jesus was right in His statement about people’s hearts being connected to people’s treasures.
What is your heart focused on?
Its easy to answer off the top of your head.
The tough thing to do today is really prove where your heart is by verifying what you consider treasure.
The best way to determine where your heart is, is to take a look at your expenditures of time and money. Where do you spend a majority of your time and money?
Now don’t get me wrong. Working to provide for your family is Holy and right.
Spending a large part of your income on a mortgage is Holy and good. Spending time on vacation with your family is pure. Taking time for yourself to recreate and play is healthy and biblical.
My question is…are you storing up anything in Heaven?
Do you give to the Lord’s work 10% or more of the income God has blessed you with? Do you use your God given influence and talent where you live, work, play, and pray to sacrifice for Jesus Christ?
The morning of September 11, twelve years ago today, 2,977 people woke up and went about their day’s plan. They had no idea their lives would be snuffed out that day. We mourn losing them, especially when it was caused by selfish pursuit of eternal rewards the faith extremists are promised in the teachings of Muhammed.
May today and everyday be a time to question our motives, pursue truth, and understand, that above all else, true love and eternity are built around laying down our own selfish desires so that others may live. When we do this, in the name of Jesus Christ, the reward will be eternity in the presence of the ones who created the sun, moon and the stars.
So, go ahead, begin storing up for yourselves….treasures…in Heaven.
This kind of living is the good life now that leads to the Great Life forever.