Laying Up Treasures in Heaven
We have now come to speak of the most interesting and delightful phase of the Christian life. Nothing brings greater joy to the heart of a Christian than that of laying up treasures in heaven. He so loves and enjoys adding to his heavenly store that he is eagerly seizing upon every opportunity for the making of such addition. No miser ever counted his gold with such joy as the Christian reflects upon his riches in glory. But how different the nature of the joy. The one is “earthly, sensual, devilish,” (James 3:15) while the other is heavenly. How sweet, how blessed the joy! No man in his earthly pursuits manifests such interest and eagerness as the saint in his heavenly pursuits. The Christians should have a thousand times more interest, and find a thousand times greater joy, in laying up treasures in heaven than ever man did in laying up earthly store, for heavenly riches are a thousand times and more of greater value than earthly goods.
A man said with seemingly great pleasure and satisfaction, “I am growing rich in stocks and bonds.” With what satisfaction the Christian says in his heart, “I am growing rich in heaven.” He who lies down upon his bed at night, knowing he has added a nice sum to his heavenly riches that day is far happier than the man who added a nice sum to his bank account. No earthly-minded man meditates with such complacency, in the waking hours of the night upon his bed, of earthly things as the saint finds in meditating upon heavenly things. Note the great delight the psalm singer found in meditating upon God in the night watches (Psalm 63:6). Is this the measure of our life and enjoyment? A man asked why he could not find greater delight in meditating on things above, and why he had such difficulty to have such meditation, and was troubled so with earthly thoughts. He was told that he did not have enough heart in heaven.
A very rich man died. One neighbor asked another how much the deceased had left behind. The answer was, “He has left all.” Sad indeed when a dying man is leaving all behind. Which would you rather be, Dives, leaving all behind, or Lazarus, going to all? If you say you would rather be like Lazarus, then let there be a daily proof of it in your life. Two men had lived beside each other for years. One was a man who sought and gained the riches of the world. The other was a man who sought the kingdom of God and His righteousness. These men were both brought down upon their dying beds the same week. When the rich man was spoken to concerning the future of himself and his neighbor, he said, “I am leaving my treasures, but my neighbor is going to his. Many times I thought him very unwise in giving so much in support of his religion, but when a man comes down on his dying bed, he can see the folly of storing up riches here. I am leaving all I have lived for. My neighbor is going to what he has lived for.” Why leave so much behind to be destroyed when this world is burning? Or why leave very much behind for others to use in serving sin? Will it not pay you in eternity to give your money to the cause of God rather than leave it for children to use in serving Satan?
Jesus tells us not to lay up our treasures on earth, but to lay them up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). What Jesus tells us to do is the wisest thing to do. Some act like they thought they knew what was better for them more than Jesus did. The reason why it is better to lay up treasures in heaven than on earth is because “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Now it is most necessary to get your heart over into heaven, for no man ever went to heaven who did not get his heart over there before his departure from here. Laying up treasures in heaven fits man for heaven. Nothing more greatly ennobles and builds up his character. The laying up of treasures upon earth makes men earthly, while the laying of them up in heaven makes them heavenly. It is not what we make that makes us rich, but what we give. We are rich or poor, not according to what we have, but according to what we are. Do not turn to your bank account or your broad acres to see what you are worth. Look into your character. We say with emphasis that no man can build up a Christian character and not do all he can with his means to advance God’s cause.
Having the heart in heaven is the secret of living heavenly. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34) “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Man lives out what is in the heart. To live heavenly, you must have heaven in your heart and your heart in heaven. We doubt if any other thing that God’s people are coming short of doing the whole will of God so much as in that of giving of their means to further His cause.
Did you ever study 2 Kings 12:4? Note the last clause of the verse. “The money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of the LORD.” This money was for the reconstruction of the temple. The tribute money the Israelite was obliged to give, but the money here spoken of was the money that he had in his heart to give. It was this money given out of the heart that was precious to God. Does it not come into your heart to bring some money into the house of God? It does if you have your heart in heaven. Do you always do as has been suggested to your heart? Does the suggestion come to give, but you allow the flesh to reason you out of what your heart wishes to do? Beware of refusing these generous impulses that come from heaven to your heart. To allow the flesh to reason you out of doing what the higher life of your soul suggested to you unfits you for heaven and for heavenly living.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth.” It is only by the aid of the Holy Spirit that we can grasp the full meaning of these words. Let us first of all, say a few words about what they do not mean. They do not mean that we should not be the legal owner of a single thing on earth. Such being the case, a man could never have anything to give. Neither does it mean that a man cannot have legal ownership of a considerable portion of this world’s goods; but it does mean that whatever a man may possess in a legal way he has to hold such, not as his own, but in trust for the Lord, so that if the Lord calls for the last penny, he will not go away sorrowful (Matthew 19:22). We hear people talking about dwelling deep in God and living close to Him. He who holds all his earthly possessions in such a manner that he can hear the faintest call of God for any part or all of it, and give it up to God with a willing and glad heart, dwells very near to the Lord. This is one of the best tests of nearness to God. When we dwell deep in God, whatever earthly store we hold in possession, we hold it not for its own sake, but because we are fully assured we can glorify God more by possessing it than by not possessing it. But how careful we need to be at this point lest the flesh deceive us. Have there not been those who have said, “I believe it is pleasing to God for me to possess this,” when it was only the flesh that is pleased. The flesh is a great reasoner. It can give a number of reasons why it is better that you have a $1,700 automobile than it is to have an $800 one, or that it is more glory to God that you have a $5,000 home than a $2,500 one. Now we are not saying that under no circumstances can a man have a $1,700 automobile or a $5,000 home, but we do say that it is the nature of the flesh to have a word in such matters, and to live where you will not listen to one word the flesh says, but to hear and do the perfect will of God in everything is a deep and close life with God and a beautiful and blessed one. One thing is certain, when we are enjoying such nearness to God, we will not be gathering earthly store around us and yet doing very little for the Lord. The Bible says that “God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) There is no better measure of man’s love to God than his giving. Those who love the Lord are known to be liberal givers. It is not how well read we are in the Scriptures, or how much we talk about religion, that is proof of our devotedness to God; it is what we are giving to God out of pure love to Him.
Some may want to know a little better how we can lay up treasures in heaven. There are many, many ways. We can speak of but a few. Every dime or dollar you give out of love to God is a treasure laid up in heaven. Just the extent of this treasure we do not know, but of this we are assured: every penny you give out of sincere love to God ennobles your soul and gives you a greater capacity for enjoying heaven. Herein is a great treasure. There is never a word spoken, nor a deed done that is lost. We are never the same after speaking a word or doing a deed. The words we speak and the deeds we do make us more or less like Christ, and fit or unfit us more for heaven. Listen to the words of Jesus, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall no wise lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42) We repeat, we do not know the full extent of the reward, but it is true that the small acts of giving a cup of water in love is not lost upon the giver. It builds him up into manhood. You may say that the giving of a cup of water is a very trifling act. Do you remember the words of the famous painter? “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.”1 Again Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) We are not the same after speaking an idle word, nor are we the same after giving a cup of cold water. The one makes us a little more like Christ, the other a little less like Him, and this much at least will be our gain or loss in the day of judgment.
Every soul we can help get saved will be a treasure laid up in heaven. We will not only have the joy of seeing a soul brought home to heaven through our effort, but the helping of a soul also lifts us up into a higher life. Every word of praise and thanksgiving to God, every loving thought of Him is laying up treasure in heaven. Every act of sacrifice or self-denial out of love to Christ is adding to our treasure store in the glory world. Oh, how busy we ought to be laying up treasures in heaven! Every act of true worship to God is a treasure in heaven. Whatever thought or word, or deed, or song, or sermon, or prayer or sacrifice, or self-denial, that makes us a little more like Jesus, and makes our life on earth a little more heavenly, is a treasure laid up in heaven. Look and see how busy men are laying up treasures on earth. Let us, as citizens in the kingdom of God, be many times more busy laying up treasures in heaven. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus who “went about doing good.” () The laying of a flower on the casket of some departed one may gain for us a slight reward in the great judgment day, but the giving of a helping hand while living will gain for us a far greater reward. Some years ago when the waters we were passing through were quite deep, and we felt the need of a cheering word or a prayer from one loving heart, we wrote the following lines:
Hast thou any flowers for me?
Wilt thou kindly let them be
Given ere death be-dews my brow?
Wait not, give them to me now.
While in life’s eventful day
Tried and weary grows the way,
When in dark and lonely hour,
Give me then the cheering flower.
Hast thou kind words to impart,
Words that lift the fainting heart?
Speak ere Death’s hand on me lay;
Speak those kind words now—today.
Kind words are but empty breath
To the heart that’s still in death;
When life’s load is hard to bear
Let me then the kind words hear.
Hast thou sunlit smiles to give,
Smiles that make us want to live?
E’er I cross death’s sullen stream
On me let those bright smiles beam.
Smiles, whate’er their power to save,
Cannot penetrate the grave.
Ere I reach life’s ending mile,
Give to me the sunlit smile.
Prayer can stay the trembling knee,
If thou hast but one for me,
Let it be offered today,
Ere the life-light fades away.
When my soul ascends the air,
I no more shall need your prayer;
Prayers today can change our state,
Tomorrow’s prayers may be too late.