The story is told of a wealthy man who died and appeared at the pearly gates. An angel met him to escort him to the place where he would live for eternity. As they walked along the man was overwhelmed by the beauty of the golden streets and the incredible mansions that lined it. “Surely one of these is mine,” he thought, but the angel just kept walking. Soon he noticed that the streets were no longer gold, and the houses were smaller, but still very nice. He again thought that one of these must be his heavenly home, but the angel continued walking. Finally, they came to a dirt path. The angel led the man down the dirt path and stopped in front of a dilapidated shack. “Here is your home,” the angel said, and turned to leave. The man began to protest, saying that there must be some mistake. How could he be assigned to such a poor dwelling place when they had bypassed so many fine mansions and houses? The angel quietly replied, “Sir, we did the best we could with what you sent ahead.”
This little story helps us visualize an important spiritual principle, but like many human illustrations it misses the mark in one aspect. The idea of there being mansions in heaven comes from a mistranslation in the King James Version of Jn. 14:2. The Greek text says there are many rooms in the Father’s house. The King James translators, working from the Latin Vulgate translation, mistook the Latin term, mansio, which means a place where someone stays, for mansion, a place where a lord lived. This was never the intent of the Lord’s words in Jn. 14, and for this reason we should not expect to live in a mansion in heaven. However, the idea of sending something ahead is a valid point, for the Lord Himself exhorted us to do so.
In Mt. 6:19-21 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.” We understand that the Lord was not talking about sending physical building supplies ahead for one’s eternal comfort. Instead, He was talking about one’s priorities and focus in life. This point is made clear in v. 24 where the Lord said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
The context for these remarks is the Sermon on the Mount, and in particular the Lord’s discussion of mankind’s preoccupation with the necessities of life. Even in the first century people were so focused on making a living that they were tempted to neglect their responsibility toward God. The Lord’s message on that occasion was to put God first in their lives, and then all these things would be added to them (Mt. 6:33). This is not only the divine prescription to alleviate worry in life, but is also the way in which we store up treasures in heaven.
The reason for the Lord’s concern is seen in His statement that where our treasure is, our heart will be there also. This is a fundamental truth that transcends time and culture. Our treasure is those things on which we place the greatest value. If we place greater value on the physical things of life, our focus is going to be limited to this earthly realm. If, on the other hand, we place greater value on spiritual things, our focus will be on God and on His will.
The scriptures warn us that at the end of time the physical realm will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3:10-13). If our treasure is worldly things, it is going to be lost when the Lord returns. However, if our treasure is in heaven, we will be among those who are welcomed into the heavenly city at the end of time to live with the Lord forever. There is no greater treasure than this.
So then, where is your treasure?