19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
My brother used to have a fun game he played with his grandson. It started when he was just three and went on for about 6 years until the young man outgrew it. My brother would draw up treasure maps They would feature keys areas in and around his yard, and his grandson would try and decode those. At first. He needed help. But then it got harder and harder for my brother to make them difficult. Somewhere along the way, his grandson started making up maps for my brother which got more and more challenging. It was a fun game that I’m sure they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I can remember as a teen doing a lot of scavenger hunts. You were given a list of items and you had to go around and find them somewhere. One of those lists might include a pine cone, a paper clip a tube of lipstick and other very diverse items. We always had fun trying to win those scavenger hunts to win some silly little prize. Sometimes I feel like doing one again.
All of my life I have been hunting treasure though. For 24 years I hunted the treasures of this world. Wealth, fame, status, respect, power – these are all the treasures of this world. I was drawn away from this quest by what I perceived as the treasures of the flesh. These are the things we want so that our physical life will be more exciting and more provocative – sex, drugs, booze. These things dominated my life and distracted me from those fleshly treasures that most go after., They made me unable to function to my fullest capacity and I fell way short of the things I could have accomplished. They caused me to drop out of college and waste my mind. They caused me to pour out my income like water into the abyss. They caused me to become a lost soul. This is what the treasures of this world will do to a man.
Moth and rust corrupt. This is an interesting saying to me. A moth will eat away at natural fibers like wool until it is destroyed. When I think of moths, I think of wool Moths can destroy a wool coat quite quickly. When wool was stored in old days, people used moth balls to keep the moths away. They really stink, in case you didn’t know. I’m not sure whether people still use them or not. I used some to put under my deck and keep the stray cats out, and it worked!
Rust uses the oxygen in water to corrode items made of iron. Iron is known as a very strong metal, but it is no match for rust. I remember once having a Dodge Opal car which was made in Germany. It came overseas on the deck of the boat and all that salt water had quite an effect on the car. As much as I loved that car. It had rust everywhere, and it just kept getting worse. When the floorboard started rusting through, it was time for it to go!
These two items are known for their durability and strength still today. Yet that durability and strength are vulnerable to a small insect and the natural elements of the world. Our lives are the same. No matter how strong we are, it’s the little things that will seep in and destroy us. Paul wrote that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump (Gal 6:9). Leaven in this case is referring to sin. If just a little gets in, our whole body is infected with it. The riches of this world can bring all kinds of sin alive in our lives. Greed, jealousy, pride, arrogance, haughtiness, boastfulness, and the like. These seeming little things will corrupt us, and people will easily see past our Christian façade.
The other thing about the worlds riches is that thieves can steal them. People can take them away from you. We hear of this all the time not only with traditional robberies, but with the many scams that are going on, money making schemes galore. And people just being plain dishonest. All of these things rob our of our earthly riches.
So then, are we to not put aside money for retirement or the future of our family? This is not what Jesus is talking about here. He is talking about gathering to yourself riches to lavish upon yourself. He is talking about getting riches so that we can appear better than anyone else. God hates pride, and riches can easily lead to pride if we are not careful. If you are accumulating wealth for your retirement and future generations, do not think for a moment that God is not pleased with that activity. That is part of being a good steward. But if you are heaping up treasures and just storing them to lavish on yourself then beware lest you be carried away by their allurement.
We are to lay up treasures in heaven. What are these treasures? Many believe these are souls saved because they hear our testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and want the same blessings on their life. In Rev 11:12, we read that we are saved by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and by the word of our testimony. This testimony that we share might be the story of how we came to Christ, or a healing He has done in our lives, or peace that He has given us in the worst of times. We do not have to wait for some mighty miracle or special discernment from God to share a testimony. The every day blessings He gives us make a wonderful testimony and can minister just as effectively to those who do not know Christ. I think many Christians shy away from giving a testimony about the Lord because they don’t feel anything “spectacular” has happened to them that would sway another person. Never feel this way. Share what Christ has done for you with anyone where the Spirit prompts you. Your treasure awaits you!
Another thing that is promised to believers are the five crowns. These are mentioned in various places in the New Testament. They are the Crown of righteousness, the incorruptible Crown,, the Crown of Life, the Crown of glory and the Crown of rejoicing. Let’s briefly look at who earns these crowns (yes, they are earned).
The Incorruptible Crown:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 KJV
This verse tells us that those who are willing to sacrifice everything, including their earthly body, will earn this crown. It is not given to those who just barely make it into heaven, or those who just do what they are told and nothing more. It is given to those who go all out, those who are seeking more and more to do from God. Think of the missionary who goes into the jungle seeking out tribes that have never been reached. It is for those who “strive for the mastery” in a controlled, concise way.
The Crown of Righteousness
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 KJV
This crown is given to those who love to see Christ when He appears. I am not convinced that this means only those who rejoice at His second coming. I also think it includes those who rejoice to see Christ at work in other people. They rejoice in the right thing being done in the name of Jesus, because that means Jesus has been present among them. They rejoice when others are touched by the Lord. They also rejoice in hearing from the Lord. Speaking to us is a way that He appears to us. They even rejoice at the Lord’s rebuke and correction because that means He is there. To receive the Crown of Righteousness we must eagerly await His presence among us.
The Crown of Life:
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12 KJV
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 KJV
This is the only crown mentioned in two different places. Both verses tells us that this crown goes to those who endure temptation and put up with the trials that they might face in their Christian walk. They do not shy away from trouble on behalf of Christ. They accept it as part of the price they pay and they remain faithful through every test the world might bring their way. We should not be afraid of these trials because we can rest assured He is with us in the midst of them for Her loves us.
The Crown of Glory:
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 KJV
This crown is for the Pastors and teachers of the Word. They have faithfully shared what God has placed on their hearts, delivering His message week after week. They have not shied away from the truth contained in the Word, and they have not altered their message for the sake of monetary gain. They are not forced to preach but enjoy sharing the truths of the Bible wanting everyone to walk in that truth. They shepherd their flock, leading them to still waters and green pastures.
The Crown of Rejoicing:
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV
This is given to those who witness to others about the Lord, sharing their testimony freely so all they come in contact with will know the saving power of Jesus Christ. They have no backed off or shied away from confrontation when it comes, but have persevered with patience to win souls to the Kingdom of God. The are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for they know it is the power of God to salvation (Rom 1:12).
There are many who have done long studies about these crowns, but I am going to leave it at that. Some will only receive one crown, others might receive them all. Most of us will fall in between. These treasures are only gained in heavenly realms. They are no earthly good. But the results of what it takes to receive them will bring us even more treasures in heaven. And that is a good thing to strive for.
Your heart will belong to the place where your treasures are. It will long after them and want to stay in that place. If your treasure is on this earth, you will be reluctant to leave this earth. Heaven will not seem so glorious, because the glorious things in your life are here on this earth. Don’ let that be your attitude! I pray that you are seeking those things which are above, not those things you can gather for yourself here below. This life is but a vapor. Why would anyone store up things that would last for a minute rather than have treasures for eternity? Let’s get out there and earn those crowns!