In what has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount − the greatest ever uttered − Jesus urged his hearers not to strive for the riches of this world. They can only be possessed for a short time and can easily be lost, and we cannot take them with us, as the apostle Paul explained:

For we brought nothing into this world,

and it is certain we can carry nothing

out (1 Timothy 6:7).

Learning from Jesus

So how should we live, and what should we try to acquire? Here’s Paul’s advice again:

Godliness with contentment is great

gain ... having food and clothing, with

these we shall be content

(1 Timothy 6:6–8).

Paul impresses upon Timothy the virtue of contentment and Jesus explains why earthly riches can never give us that:

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

(Matthew 6:19–21).

The vital lesson that Jesus was imparting was that: no one can serve two masters”.

Then he amplified what he was saying by declaring that:

You cannot serve God and mammon”

(Matthew 6:24).

Time to Choose

The clear message of Jesus was that we cannot have the best of two worlds. We have to choose either one or the other. For, at the return of Jesus, the faithful dead will be raised in the Resurrection and be rewarded with eternal life on earth. It will be remembered that just

before Jesus performed the wonderful miracle of raising the dead Lazarus to life again he reassured his grieving sister, Martha, with these comforting words,

I am the resurrection and the life. He

who believes in me, though he may

die, he shall live (John 11:25).

In urging his hearers to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” Jesus was telling them to turn to God in repentance so that they could receive the forgiveness of their sins. Paul, in his Letter to the Christian converts at Colossae referred to the “treasures” laid up in heaven for true believers, as he writes:

Because of the hope which is laid up

for you in heaven, of which you heard

before in the word of the truth of the

gospel, which has come to you, as it

has also in all the world, and is bring-

ing forth fruit, as it is also among you

since the day you heard and knew the

grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:5–6).

The hope of life everlasting in God’s Kingdom upon the earth is truly a treasure beyond price!

Written in Heaven

When the seventy disciples appointed by Jesus to preach the gospel message returned in a happy state of mind having achieved remarkable conversions we can well imagine how elated they must have been at the encouraging words of Jesus when he said to them,

Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

They had proclaimed the great news about the Kingdom of God which is to come on earth and the salvation available to those who put on the saving name of Jesus by belief and baptism and, because of their zealous Christian discipleship, had laid up for themselves treasure in heaven.” Jesus was saddened by the way that many strove after wealth while neglecting the true meaning of life and the wonderful hope of salvation offered by God. When a man in the crowd appealed to Jesus about his earthly inheritance, Jesus gave this telling answer:

Take heed and beware of covetousness,

for one’s life does not consist in

the abundance of the things he possesses...”

(Luke 12:15).

For when Jesus returns, he will rule the world in righteousness and establish peace, as so beautifully portrayed by David, when he says:

...the meek shall inherit the earth, and

shall delight themselves in the abun-

dance of peace (Psalm 37:11).

The meek are those who, in humility and reverence, have obeyed the laws of God. They are the ones whose names are written in heaven and whose faithful lives have laid up “treasures” for themselves there.

Love God not Money

It is a sad aspect of life today that many of the people in the communities among whom we live aim at making as much money as they can and their compulsion is amply catered for. This addiction to the prospect of winning money is widespread in society and sends a wrong signal to young people, persuading them that it is quite all right to get as much as they can without having to work for it. The Apostle Paul addressed some very sobering words to his fellow-worker, Timothy, regarding things to be taught in his preaching of the Christian faith and stressed that:

...the love of money is a root of all

kinds of evil, for which some have

strayed from the faith in their greediness,

and pierced themselves through

with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).

Jesus appealed to those who thronged him not to set their affections on what could be gained in this life of limited duration, but to give earnest consideration to the vital things that he taught concerning repentance, belief and baptism and in the giving of honour and praise to God in their lives. The same hope of salvation offered by Jesus Christ to people who saw and heard him so long ago is available to all those of honest heart today who will

make the decision to live in accordance with God’s laws − those principles of righteousness and true faith so clearly manifested in all that Jesus said and did. The words of the Saviour convey the promise of eternal life, compared with which all that can be obtained in this brief life pales into insignificance. Remember his words:

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

Denis M Elliott

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