Heavenly Merchandise – Andrew Farley
Matthew 6:20, Genesis 15:1 (New International Version)
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
And God said to Abraham “I am your shield, your very great reward.”
“OK, so we ourselves are not going to be judged, but I still want to earn tons of rewards in heaven!” Quite often we’ll hear a statement like this after teaching on our freedom from God’s judgment.
As humans, we always seem to be looking for a punishment-reward-based motivation to keep our behaviour on track. While we’re more apt to dismiss a blatant guilt motivation, the picture often painted is that God will be doling out mansions of various sizes and other merit-based awards when we hit heaven. Christians have commonly used the term rewards to refer to extra square footage or certificates redeemable for crowns and jewels in heaven’s gift shop.
In reality, the term rewards does not appear anywhere in the New Testament. The apostle Paul speaks of a “reward” (singular, not plural) or a “prize” in the context of running a race and reaching the end. But Paul also notes that everything else is like garbage next to knowing Christ Jesus (Philip 3:8). Given this truth, do we really believe that God will be awarding larger homes and nicer jewelry to those depended on Jesus more?
God doesn’t want us to think and act in certain ways because we’re seeking to accumulate heavenly merchandise. Just as Paul was willing to lose all things for the sake of knowing Christ, we too should make it our agenda to know him. For more wealth in heaven? No, we want to know him simply because it’s the greatest thing going on planet Earth.
But doesn’t Jesus tell us to store up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:20)? Yes, but treasures aren’t rewards. People DISCOVER treasures. They don’t EARN them. Once a treasure is discovered, it can be abandoned or it can be stored somewhere.
When God tells us we can store up treasures in heaven, he’s asking us to consider our daily choices and their outcomes. Some choices end in a worthless product that is later burned up like wood, hay or straw. Other choices endure for eternity since they are expressions of Jesus Christ.
Essentially, God is posing the following questions: Given who you are and what you know, what will you invest in? Will you store up attitudes and actions that endure forever or will you pursue dead works that end up being burned. The choice is ours.
Thought of the Day
Treasures are discovered! Discover who you are in Christ!