Although many people might nod a glassy-eyed acknowledgment that we need to comply with Jesus’ teaching to lay up treasure in heaven as the self-vindicating rationalization of “yeah, I’m doing some of that” passes through their mind, Jesus’ subsequent teachings can startle lethargy like salt in an open wound. Sitting on a mountainside teaching the crowds, Jesus flayed open our inner workings in such a way which can sting because we know it rings true. Matthew 6:19-24
Since people treasure (love, serve and worship) whatever they believe takes care of them, some people serve the created order and accordingly seek to store up their treasure on earth. For others, their Master is God whom they love and serve. By correctly proclaiming that our heart will be found wherever we place our treasure, Jesus ripped off all of our self-deluding veneer thereby forcing us to confront our deepest motivation, namely, to honestly recognize who or what is our God/god.
But Jesus had not finished; his further analysis and conclusions applied a healing albeit stinging septic stick to an open wound. Although the terminology he used was slightly different, in essence Jesus taught that if someone has the proper focus in life (presumably because he knows where to lay up treasure) his whole life will be enveloped in what is good and valuable. Conversely, if someone’s focus in life is misplaced, his whole life will be off-track and worthless.
Talk about a blunt contrast! Jesus left us no room for taking solace in the misplaced rationalization that at least I’m laying up some treasure in heaven. According to Jesus, the focus is either good or it is bad. To listen to him there is no gray scale on this issue; one is either in light or in darkness.
This stark dichotomy was further solidified when Jesus taught that it is impossible to serve two masters. By denying the possibility to serve both a heavenly and an earthly master, Jesus denied that it is possible for us to hedge our bets by laying up treasure on both earth and in heaven. Either we live with the right focus or we do not. Either we love and serve God or we do not. It is not possible for our hearts to serve God and the created order. It is not possible to lay up treasure both here and in heaven.
The bottom line should be clear. Discipleship is not merely picking up salvation like someone might purchase an insurance policy and then continue to live with the same unhealthy lifestyle habits and misplaced priorities. Discipleship involves a transfer of allegiance, love, worship and treasuring to God and his kingdom. Accordingly, the heart and subsequently the behavior will be changed.
Since our life cannot be sustained through this world alone but rather depends upon living by every word which proceeds forth from God, Jesus’ teachings should lead thoughtful individuals to lay up treasure in heaven.