by Mike Ratliff
“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)
Treasure has always fascinated me. As a boy, I loved to read stories and watch movies about people who find buried treasure. Now that I am an adult, the idea of possessing a fortune is compelling. Of course, that treasure is worldly and material. I have found material possessions don’t last. Money doesn’t last and loses its value. Cars wear out. Houses get old and need renovation. Clothes wear out. It makes no sense to look to possessions for fulfillment, yet most people do. Is this what Christians are supposed to do?
If we study the verses above we see clearly the Treasure Jesus wants us to value is not worldly wealth. I have heard numerous preachers expound their health, wealth, and prosperity gospels to eager listeners. They teach God wants all believers to be free from suffering and be wealthy in the World’s goods. I have read the bible cover to cover many times and I cannot find anywhere in those sacred pages where God places material wealth above spiritual maturity. Yes, He blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He blessed Job. He blessed David and Solomon. He blesses all of us according to His sovereignty, but that is not what we are to desire above all.
We can use Matthew 6:19-21 to eliminate wealth in the World’s goods as the Treasure. We can see in those verses where the real treasure is. Where is it? It is in heaven. We may say, What about now? I need to pay my bills now! If we are in that frame of mind then our focus is wrong.
The Spirit-led believer is focused on God and His will. The Soul-led believer is focused on the here and now and gives God time as they see fit. The Spirit-led believer walks in the Spirit or according to the Spirit or by the Spirit. The Soul-led believer walks according to the flesh. The Spirit-led believer lives in the World, but is not part of it. The Soul-led believer lives in the World and is doing everything he or she can to conform to it.
If our focus is on the here and now then we are Soul-led. If our focus is on God and His glory then we’re Spirit-led. If we are Soul-led, we want our treasure now in physical form. If we are Spirit-led, we know our treasure is spiritual and awaits.
We still haven’t defined what the Treasure is though. Let’s start our search in the book of Proverbs.
Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:20-21)
These two verses are an interesting contrast. First the writer, Solomon, presents godly treasure as extremely valuable and desirable, but the foolish ignore it or squander it. What is it? It is life, righteousness, and honor. This life is eternal life because it is associated with righteousness. What about honor? This speaks of eternal blessings in heaven based on how we live this life now. In some cases, we can experience a foretaste of those blessings in this life, but the emphasis is on the eternal. The Spirit-led, godly believer will receive rewards and honor in heaven. Is eternal life, righteousness, and honor treasure? The Spirit-led says, Absolutely! The Soul-led says, Yeah, but what about now? The Spirit-led are the wise believers who value this treasure. The Soul-led are the foolish who squander it. We should ask ourselves which we are shouldn’t we?
So far, the Treasure we have looked at is future. What about now? Do the righteous accumulate any treasure now? Let’s look at a statement made by our Lord.
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, (Matthew 12:34-36)
So, we do have treasure now! What is it? Jesus says what proceeds out of our mouths comes from the treasury of our Heart. What does that mean? Obviously, the godly have built up good treasure in their Hearts while the ungodly have built up evil treasure there. This implies the way we live our lives, Spirit-led or Soul-led, builds up a treasury of goodness or evil in our Hearts. All good treasure comes from being Spirit-led. All evil treasure comes from walking according to the flesh. This statement by our Lord is comparing our spiritual maturity to treasure. If we become godly, Spirit-led believers then we not only are laying up treasure in heaven, but are also laying it up in the treasury of our Hearts.
Spiritual Treasure is:
Is there more? Well, Godly Character is huge. It covers all aspects of being a Spirit-led believer. The spiritual fruit, which comes from living a life dedicated to the God’s glory, produces Godly Fruit. This fruit’s building blocks are made up of the Fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:16-26 we get the following list.
The Fruit of the Spirit is produced in the Heart of the believers who submit to the Lordship of Christ. These building blocks make up the fruit of salvation. I have listed these fruits below. This list is the treasury of the Heart which produces good works and good words. There is not one thing on this list that can be manufactured or faked by a non-believer. This list is the parts or blocks that make up Christ-likeness. Christ-likeness describes character that is godly and marked by Holiness.
Love for God (Psalm 42:1; Psalm 73:25)
Repentance from Sin (2 Timothy 2:20-26)
Genuine Humility (Psalm 51:17; James 4:6-10)
Devotion to God’s Glory (Psalm 105:3; Psalm 155:1)
Continual Prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Selfless Love (1 John 3:14)
Separation from the World (1 John 2:15-17)
Spiritual Growth (Luke 8:15)
Obedient Living (Matthew 7:21)
Godly character is the part of the Treasure we experience right now if we live Spirit-led lives. The Soul-led do not do this. They call Jesus Lord, but they do things their own way. The Spirit-led submit entirely to His Lordship. As a result the Holy Spirit produces this godly fruit in their Hearts. Godly character will never be developed without it.
There is one more aspect of the Treasure we need to look at before moving on. In a parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to treasure.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
If we are citizens of the Kingdom of God we have a priceless treasure. Who is a citizen of the Kingdom of God? All genuine believers are part of the Kingdom. However, many squander their treasure. Who does this? The Soul-led do that. The Spirit-led treasure the Treasure. Being part of the Kingdom of God means possessing Eternal Life.
Remember, Spiritual Treasure is:
We now have an idea of what the Treasure is. How do we possess it? We must do some self-examination. Let’s ask ourselves if we are Spirit-led or Soul-led. Then we should ask God to show us the truth. If our focus is on self-gratification then we are Soul-led. If our prayer life is shallow or non-existent then we are Soul-led. If we resent being asked to serve our Lord then we are Soul-led. If we would rather be rich and famous than godly then we are Soul-led. The Spirit-led know they are. They know because godly character makes up how they live their life right now. They have this character because God has changed them by granting them repentance as they submitted to the Lordship of Christ. They already possess the good treasure in their Hearts. They are laying up great treasure in Heaven. However, due to the fact that God is building humility within their hearts while uprooting pride, they do not always feel as if they are making any headway at all. In fact, their battles with sins and behaviors that they thought were won long ago seem to come back in constant sneak attacks seemingly in non-stop mode.
Possessing the Treasure is both a goal and a reality for the genuine Christian. The fact that our struggles with our sin nature seem to become more and more entrenched rather than fading into oblivion as we mature is not a sign that we are slipping. Perhaps God has allowed our enemy to attack what he thinks are our vulnerable soft spots as He did with Job. In any case, God is in control of this process. As genuine, Born Again Christians our role is to cooperate with God in our cleansing and sanctification by doing battle with Him in defeating our sin hungry flesh by surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ continually. Our battles in our pursuit of the Treasure may be trying and even discouraging at times, but they are part of the process of demolishing the idols in our hearts. Let’s pray for God to open our eyes to the reality of this spiritual battle and for Him to give us His Joy that strengthens us so that we can obey Him in all things. It is by winning these battles that the possessing of the Treasure becomes a reality.
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