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)
Our wealth has to be invested in something of eternal significance or else we will receive our comfort in full in this life. Eternity is a long time — a long time of paying the price for destroying other people’s lives while living a life full of the excessive desires for selfish gain. The Rich Man who closed his eyes and ears to the plight of his poor brother Lazarus learned this too late.
But Abraham said, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.” (Luke 16:25)
The antidote for the toxic poison that accompanies the love of money is what Paul commanded Timothy regarding the rich. Herein is wisdom:
Command those who are rich in this present world to not be haughty, nor to trust in the uncertainty of their riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly everything we need. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give [distribute their wealth],1 willing to share [inclined to make others sharers in their possessions],2 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
To lay hold of what is truly life eternal, the rich must surrender their riches. They cannot enter the Kingdom of God while holding on to them. We know the grievous example of Ananias and Sapphira who did not fear God, but thought they could lie to the Holy Spirit.3 They tried to put on a front of distributing all their wealth among their poor brothers in need, but kept some back for their own security.4 This is in contrast to the examples of the other obedient disciples, including Barnabas, who joyfully laid all he owned at the apostles’ feet in deep gratitude for his new life with his new brothers in Messiah.5