Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19). The word, “rust” (Gk. brosis) does not refer to literal rust, but to “eating” as in “consuming.” (Gingrich); or “corrosion” or “decay” (James 5:2). Jesus said your valuables on earth are eaten by moth and decay. If you store up valuables on earth, you will lose it. You will lose it to moth and decay. You will lose it to thieves who break in and steal.
In Jesus’ day, the houses were made of mud-brick walls. There were no banks in those days. People would bury their valuables under the house floors. The thieves would “break in” the houses. It does not mean that they would break the door locks. The word, “break in” (Gk. diorusso) means, “dig through.” The thieves would literally dig through the walls. That’s what Jesus meant. Do not store your money and valuables on earth. You will lose it.
Instead, Jesus said, store up your money in heaven (Matt. 6:20). How did Jesus’ original hearers understand these words, “treasures in heaven”? Let’s read Sirach 29:10-12, a Jewish book in Jesus’ time.
“Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, And let it not rust under a stone to be lost. Lay up thy treasure according to the commandments of the most High, And it shall bring thee more profit than gold. Shut up alms in thy storehouses: And it shall deliver thee from all affliction.”
For the Jews, treasures in heaven mean giving money to a brother or friend in need. Treasures in heaven mean obeying God’s commands. It means giving alms—giving to the poor.
How about us today? It’s the same thing. Jesus never changed it. Treasures in heaven are the help you give to your brother in Christ. They are your obedience to God’s commands. Treasures in heaven are your giving to the poor.
Treasures in heaven are things you bring with you to heaven. What are eternal things that you bring with you to heaven?
1 Tim. 6:17-19
- As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
- They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
- thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Paul said that treasures in heaven are doing good to others. Treasures in heaven are being rich in good works. It is to be generous to others. It is the readiness to share your goods.
You lay up heavenly treasures when you help a brother in need. If your heart is set on the things of God, on the will of God, you will be ready to help a brother in need. Helping a needy brother is the will of God. Jesus taught it. Paul taught it. John taught it. But why do you find it hard to help a brother in need? It is because your heart is set on the things of this world, and not on the things of God.
Your treasures in heaven are the souls you brought to Christ. They are the offerings you give for the ministry of the Gospel, for the sending of missionaries, and for the planting of churches. They are the believers whom you have encouraged in Christ. You will bring all these to heaven. These are your treasures in heaven.
Jesus said, do not store up valuables on earth. You will lose it. But store up valuables in heaven. You will not lose it.
 D. A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13 (WBC 33A; ed. Ralph P. Martin; Dallas: Word, 1993), 157.
 The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Of the Authorized English Version
 Blomberg, Matthew, 122.