In February 2013 a husband and wife were walking their dog on a hillside section of their rural property in Northern California. As they walked along they came upon a rusty can partially buried in the hillside. When they dug it up they discovered it contained what looked like a batch of discs covered with dirt. They took the can home and began cleaning the discs. This is when they discovered that the can contained nearly perfectly preserved gold coins. They returned to the site where the can had been unearthed and found more cans. When all was said and done, they had more than 1400 gold coins with a face value of $27,980.00. The coins are extremely rare, dating from 1847 through 1894, and have been appraised at about $10 million.
The discovery of such a treasure would be a dream come true for most people, and has been in this instance for the couple who found it. However, the treasure has also created some issues for them. Once the discovery was announced, opportunists surfaced claiming that the treasure was buried by long-lost ancestors. In addition to this, government taxing agencies suggested that the couple may owe as much as half the value of the coins in taxes. For over a year the couple has worked through these issues, and apparently is now beyond most of them. Some of the coins have been put up for auction, and one coin recently fetched $15,000.00.
The discovery of this treasure, and the resultant issues surrounding it, reminds us of something the Lord said about treasure during His earthly ministry. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:19-21).
If our focus is only on earthly things we’re going to be disappointed, no matter how much wealth we may amass. The reasons why are summed up in the Lord’s statement. Treasure on earth is subject to decay and will always be the target of thieves. Not only this, but when we die our earthly treasure is left behind. The Lord told a parable in Lk. 12:15-21 about a rich man who hoarded his wealth. In vs. 20, 21 Jesus said, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” This fact of life is summarized by the statement, “You don’t see any Ryder trucks behind hearses.”
In contrast to this, if our focus is on spiritual things, we will never be disappointed. Paul spoke of this truth in 1 Tim. 4:8, where he said, “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” One who puts God first is promised that all his physical needs will be provided (Mt. 6:33). He may not be wealthy by the world’s standards, but he will be rich toward God. His life will be better because he pursues godliness, and at the end of time, he will be better off because he will enter the place prepared for him in heaven (Jn. 14:1-3).
The possession of earthly wealth is not condemned in scripture. Making earthly treasure one’s sole focus in life, however, is condemned. The Lord’s command is for us to store up treasures in heaven. We do this by putting Him first in our lives, and by living obedient, godly lives in preparation for eternity. Those who store up treasures in heaven will receive the everlasting treasure of eternal life. Where is your treasure?