"FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO." — MATTHEW 6:21
Recently, our van died.
And I’d be lying if I told you it was no big deal, that it didn’t keep me up at night, that I felt totally good about the whole thing. Why? We needed another vehicle to fit our big ol’ family of seven, and it was going to cost us a whole lot of money—a whole lot more than our secondhand van cost us 13 years ago. And, truth be told, that stressed me out. Why? Because spending a whole lot of money always stresses me out. In fact, money in general stresses me out.
I wonder if money stresses you out too?
Do you worry whether you have enough—for rent, for school, for bills, for retirement, for a decent vacation, for when your car goes out, or your roof, or your heater? My guess is you do worry about money, at least some of the time. We all do. And the funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how much we have. Regardless of whether we have a big pile of money or just a few bucks in our pocket, whether we spend it like water or squirrel it away, whether we work really hard for it or it always comes easy, we all tend to worry about money at least some of the time. Why? Because we need it. We can’t live without it. Yet, no matter how much money we have, it always feels precarious, like we could lose it all at any moment, like we’ll never have quite enough money to truly be safe and secure.
This tendency of ours to worry about money doesn't take Jesus by surprise.
We all need money, but it will never make us safe and secure. It’s a shaky foundation. In our verse this month, and in the surrounding passage, Jesus talks about the necessity and the instability of money. He speaks about our vulnerability and our tendency to trust in and treasure money as security. He affirms our legitimate needs, but warns that putting our confidence in money is always a bad deal. He gives it to us straight, but also compassionately, offering a safe solution for our money-worried hearts. Let’s read what he has to say:
“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….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.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
Jesus tells us that our hearts are going to treasure something—they’re going to be aligned with something, trust in something, love and serve something. And he says we have two choices: we can either treasure God or money, but not both. We can’t mostly trust God, and sprinkle some trust in money on top. Nope. Our hearts can only be true to one thing, and that one thing is our treasure. We see in this passage that Jesus warns us about the inconstancy and fallibility of trusting in money or earthly treasures. In contrast, he encourages us to love and entrust our hearts to God, whose heavenly treasures are eternal, infallible, constant, and safe. When we look at it that way, the obvious choice is to love God and his heavenly treasure. But what does that look like practically?
Heavenly treasures are awesome, but we still have earthly needs.
Jesus addresses this legitimate concern in the next section (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus acknowledges that we still need food and drink and clothing. We have bodies and lives that need to be looked after. And Jesus acknowledges that all of these things can be a source of worry. Don’t we know it? Didn’t we start off by talking about the things we need that money can buy? If money isn’t our number one priority, are we really going to be able to take care of ourselves? Jesus tells us in this section that God is the one who owns and cares for everything, including us. The same God who clothes the fields and feeds the birds cares infinitely more for his children. He knows everything we need, and he is more than able to provide for us. Instead of focusing on and worrying about those needs, we can fix our eyes on God and allow him to provide for us. At the end of this section talking about physical things that we really do need, Jesus says, “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). When our hearts are seeking God, when he is our greatest treasure, we can trust that he will take care of us.
So, back to my question: Do you worry about money?
Or maybe this is a better question: Do you worry about the things you need? For me, it’s a “yes”—sometimes it’s more of a “yes” than other times, but for sure this is a regular “yes” in my life. I wish it weren’t so. But sometimes I do struggle with worry, and I’d venture to say that sometimes you struggle with worry too. That’s why this passage of Scripture is here. Jesus knows our legitimate needs, our vulnerability, and our worries. And he’s giving our hearts a solution: Love God and seek him above all things; make him your treasure, and he will take care of you. Our hearts are safe when we are treasuring the one thing that we cannot lose. Ever.
So here’s my challenge for you (and me) as we memorize and meditate on our verse this month: ask God to help you diagnose your heart with it. Every time you say, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), ask the Lord to show you where your treasure really is. Ask yourself whether you're entrusting your heart to earthly things to save you or to the One who is actually safe. Then pray. Ask God to take your worries and praise him for being the safe and good place for your heart.