“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be
also.” – Matthew 6:21
So, years ago, a certain farmer came up with an ingenious way to capture monkeys without killing them. The farmer drills a hole into a coconut and places a banana inside it. Then he ties the other end of the coconut to a tree. Before long a monkey will come by, smell the banana, and reach into the coconut for an easy meal. But with his fist clenched around the banana, he can’t fit it back through the hole of the coconut. And even when the farmer walks up to the monkey to grab him, the monkey refuses to let go of it.
Silly monkey! At any moment he could be free by simply letting go of the banana. But he is imprisoned by his own greed. You and I are a lot like monkeys aren’t we? We like to hold on to our stuff, and we don’t like to let go of it, even when it imprisons us. If you’re a monkey lover, you’d probably love to somehow get that dumb Indian monkey to understand that if he’d just let go of the banana, he could be free. Unfortunately, you don’t speak monkey. But Jesus does speak human. And in the Sermon on the Mount, His words can get us dumb humans to understand that we’re only hurting ourselves when we cling to the stuff inside our coconuts. Jesus lovingly urges us to let it go.
In Matthew 6:19, Jesus tells His followers, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Jesus is reminding us that all the stuff we own is temporary. And because it’s temporary, its ability to bring us pleasure is temporary. As theologian William Barclay put it: “All purely physical pleasures have a way of wearing out. At each successive enjoyment of them the thrill becomes less thrilling. It requires more of them to produce the same effect. They are like a drug which loses its initial potency and which becomes increasingly less effective. A man is a foolish man who finds his pleasures in things which are bound to offer diminishing returns.”
So, storing up treasures on earth is a really bad idea. And in verse 20, Jesus tells us where we should store up treasures: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” But what does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? Well, it doesn’t just mean to do good stuff here on earth for God so that God will do good stuff for you one day in heaven. And it doesn’t just mean to use your stuff here on earth for God so that He’ll give you better stuff in heaven.
What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? It means to invest everything you have—your time, talents and treasures—in God’s kingdom work. (I like to call them the three T’s.) Many Christians throw something into the offering box and think that’s good enough for God. Others are scared to give God a whole 10% tithe, so they offer God some of their time and talent instead. But Jesus calls us to give all three T’s to invest everything we have in God’s kingdom work. Our cars are to be available for kingdom work. Our homes are to be available for kingdom work. Our clothes and our food and our toys are to be available for kingdom work. Even our weekends are to be available for God’s kingdom work.
In verse 21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be with you.” In other words, our money goes where our heart goes. We spend our money on what we care most about and prioritize. There’s nothing wrong with owning nice things—as long as those nice things don’t own US. There are umpteen different things that you could do with your time and your talents. Where you choose to use your three T’s reveals where your heart is. Honestly, Jesus doesn’t need your money. He doesn’t need your talents. And He doesn’t need your time. But He wants it … because He wants your heart. Jesus asks each of us in verses 19-21, “Where is your treasure?”
So, in a nutshell, Jesus is saying: “If your eyes are focused on material things, and your thoughts are focused on material things, and your heart finds its joy and purpose in material things—then money is your god. And if money is your god, you’re just like a monkey whose hand is stuck in a coconut. As you selfishly cling to the stuff of this world, you’ll end up losing everything that really matters. Only what you release to God and use for His kingdom work will last.”
You’ve got a clear choice. Serve God or serve money? Jesus asks, “Who are you serving?”
I hope and
pray that God will always find us on duty—investing our time, talents and
treasures in God’s kingdom work. Loving people. Serving those in need. And the
greatest work of all—leading people into a saving relationship with Christ.
Dane Davis is the Pastor
of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at