“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Christ told His disciples to adjust their priorities. That applies to us as well. The plague of insatiable desire fills the earth. Everywhere men are chasing after things without true value. The things we desire rot of their own accord. Or other men steal them.
We accumulate stuff. Then we spend all our effort protecting that stuff. Home security is a major industry. But then what? We die. And all our stuff belongs to someone else. But often they throw it in the garbage. So, how valuable was it? And how valuable is it?
But what we have in heaven will never rot. It will never rust. No one will or can steal it. It will never belong to someone else. It is of immense value.
Christ pointed out the futility of accumulating stuff. What has the most value? Is it something that is temporary? Is it something that provides pleasure for a little while? Or is it something that lasts forever? Value has eternal use and beauty and value.
Those who assist the poor on the earth lay up treasures in heaven. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
The question this passage raises is, what is the ultimate good? In fact, that is the question that philosophers have asked through the ages. Is there good? Can we even know what is good? What is the greatest or highest good?
The fact is we regulate our lives by what we think is good. Is it honor? Those who believe so are consumed with honor. They try to change their behavior to act in an honorable way. They are consumed with insuring others recognized and treat them with honor.
Is the highest good wealth and power? After all, if you are after justice, you need power. Those without power must serve those with power. Without power, you cannot pursue justice. Without power, you cannot achieve any other good. So power must be the highest good. If that is the belief, men will seek power over everything else.
But power, happiness, and honor are fleeting. They all come and go. What makes us happy changes with our mood. What is considered honorable today will be considered shameful tomorrow. Power is a zero-sum game. If someone gains power you lose it. So power is a struggle. You can never have enough.
These are examples of the metaphor Christ used, “moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.” What we treasure, what we think is important, is what we care about. That is where our heart is.
To straighten out our hearts we must start with our heads. We must recognize what has true value. That is the point Christ made with the eye. We must see reality. We must see what is true. If we do not know the truth, we value that with no value. So it starts with knowing. It starts with understanding. If what we see is wrong, we have no chance of valuing the valuable.
Can’t we find a middle ground? Isn’t there a compromise position? Christ addresses that head-on. In short, the answer is, “No.” You can not serve two masters. One will reign supreme. We will favor one. And when they conflict we will reject the one we do not favor.
This is common. “Yes, serve Christ. But you have to be practical.” And as a result, we adapt God’s commands to our will rather than adapting our will to God’s commands. We love ourselves and despise God.