“‘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.’” -Matthew 6:19-21
John Piper once gave a sermon where he described one couple’s post-retirement life. Bob and Penny retired in their 50s and moved to Florida where they spent their days cruising on their troller, playing softball, and collecting seashells.
For some, just reading that sentence about Bob and Penny’s life could start a cascade of thoughts. “I wish my life could look like that. How could I retire early? How is my 401(k) doing? Maybe I should save more.”
It’s not just retirement that can spark a whirlwind of thoughts. A friend could post pictures on social media from a recent vacation to an exotic location. “I wish I could go on more vacations like that. How much money does he make? Can I afford a vacation right now?”
Even beyond money-related desires, a friend could talk about her engagement or her new baby, and the thoughts begin to spiral.
“Why doesn’t my life look like that?”
Engrained in every person’s sinful nature is the desire to have what we don’t already possess. Other people’s money, experiences, relationships, and families can all make the heart ache for more of whatever we’re lacking. God knew this about mankind, which is why He commanded not to covet what others have (Exodus 20:17). He knows that comparison is the thief of joy.
Covetousness is so prevalent in human nature that Jesus addressed the issue again while He was here on Earth. “‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … (Matthew 6:19a).’”
The enemy is ready to dangle any desire in our faces if he thinks it will take our eyes off of God. If he tried to tempt Jesus (Luke 4), he will try to tempt anyone. Satan wants to distract us from God’s goodness and purpose for our lives. He wants us to pursue worldly desires rather than pursue Jesus, to desire earthly success rather than heavenly success.
The heart becomes distracted when it’s focused on a temporal perspective—seeking the things that will ultimately pass away. The key to combating this distraction is to set the heart and mind on an eternal perspective—one in which we focus on a heavenly objective.
In the same sermon, John Piper talked about the lives of Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards. Ruby was an unmarried woman in her 80s, and Laura was a widowed doctor in her 70s. Both were missionaries in Cameroon, making Jesus known among the sick and the poor. As they were traveling from village to village, the brakes in their car failed, and they drove over a cliff to their deaths.
Was this a tragedy?
Ruby and Laura arrived before the throne of God, able to show the lives that had been eternally changed because they shared Jesus with the lost and unreached. People like Bob and Penny, on the other hand, will likely arrive at the throne of God with nothing more than a seashell collection.
Because Ruby’s and Laura’s hearts were set on Heaven, they spent their lives storing up their treasures there. Though they certainly must have struggled with the same earthly temptations everyone faces, they were able to keep an eternal perspective and dedicate their lives to the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
Where have you stored your treasures? Have you fallen into the trap of covetousness, wanting to obtain more things or experiences that will ultimately pass away? Or is your heart focused on the end goal of making God’s name known to the ends of the Earth, building up for yourself a grand treasure in Heaven?
Discover a joy beyond earthly pleasures by fixing your heart on God’s desire for your life.