Treasures in Heaven |The Role of Self in Giving

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Even though it’s a very important biblical concept, I don’t often talk about the importance of building up treasures in heaven.

Honestly, it’s a topic I don’t really know how to properly address in a way that honors God and promotes generous giving.  For lack of a better word, it just seems off to make your primary reason to give because of what you’ll get.

However, as Christians what we will receive is often a motivation for our conduct.  Paul says that he lives his life pursuing a goal so that he might be called heavenward.  Thus, Paul’s goal is to go to heaven.

That could be considered very selfish.

But, it’s more of a mark that he is made in the image of God.  God has instilled desires in us.  Augustine said that we will not rest unless we rest in Him.  There is a godly longing to be reunited with our Maker.  Though it may be a selfish desire, it is a God ordained selfishness.

Giving to build up our treasures in heaven can also be a God ordained selfishness.  However, it can also come from our own selfish desires.

It is a fine line to walk.

Still, we must clearly affirm what the Bible so clearly teaches – how we give impacts our treasures in heaven.

Most straight and narrow Evangelicals don’t much like the idea of rewards.  I know that because the NIV goes the extra mile to avoid the word “works” (often substituting “deeds” instead).

Yet, there is clearly a God ordained reward system in this world.  Just like there is a moral punishment system where bad people ultimately get what they deserve, there is a cosmic reward system instituted by God.

This is not a system whereby one earns salvation, we all know that is not something that is earned.  Yet, there seem to be elements in the life of the sanctified that are rewarded based on conduct.

In the discussion of treasures in heaven, the focus is to remind us of the importance of differentiating between the eternal and temporal.  You don’t need me to remind you that you’ll never see a Hirsch with a trailer.

Building up treasures in heaven for generosity on earth is God’s ‘pay it forward’ system.

In Matthew 6:20, Jesus encourages us to “store up treasures in heaven”.  Then, in Matthew 19:21, he specifically encourages a young man to sell what he has and give to the poor because through that action he will “have treasure in heaven”.  Timothy echoes the sentiment in 1 Tim 6:18-19 when he encourages Christians towards generosity because, “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life”.

Something (I’m not sure what) is stored up in heaven for the righteous who are generous.

What’s the Treasure in Heaven?

I’m quite convinced that it’s not going to be gold nuggets since I believe the treasure will be a different currency than what we give.

However, beyond that, all that is left is supposition.

Are there to be different rewards in heaven?

  • Will your heavenly mansion have air conditioning and mine only windows because you laid up more treasures in heaven?
  • Will you have preferential treatment at Heaven’s Wal-Mart because you stored up more?

Most of those questions are beyond the scope of my understanding.  However, here’s what we can know:

  1. Generous giving is a good thing.
  2. God intends to reward our goodness (or his goodness in us).
  3. True disciples ensure they are investing as much in the life to come as the life we currently live.

Do you know what the treasure in heaven is, because I’d love to know?  What resources can you recommend to help me (and others) figure out what the reward is?

Comments

  1. Jason says

    I really don’t know what the treasures are either with any certainty. The bible talks about crowns and I’ve heard that discussed in terms of our “work/responsibility/authority” in heaven/new earth. I think it’s hard to imagine those things properly in heaven because they are so tainted by sin on this earth today. Therefore, we assume they won’t exist in heaven. I wonder if they will, but authority and leadership will be used to bless and without the abuses sin brings. Such things clearly won’t bring about envy as there will be no sin.
    While this rewards concept can get out of balance (like anything can really if other parts of the Bible are ignored) I believe it is completely biblical and Jesus actually encourages us to seek these rewards. It is good for all involved, those we’re giving to, advances God’s kingdom, and stores us reward for us in heaven. Even though I don’t really know what the reward is exactly (as you say it is clearly not salvation), I believe it should serve as a much greater motivator for how we live than any temporal earthly reward. If Christians would really grasp this concept, it would make so much of what we strive so hard after very meaningless. “Seek FIRST/ONLY His Kingdom”!

  2. says

    Shouldn’t the focus be on letting God show his love to others through us and our actions, rather than the “reward” we store up in heaven?

    • says

      Joe,
      I see where you’re coming from and I understand your reservation (it’s the same one I have). However, I’m not the one coming up with the idea of focusing on giving for a reward. That one seems to originate with Jesus. In Matthew 6:20, Jesus encourages us to “store up treasures in heaven”.

    • Jason says

      Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Seeking heavenly (not earthly) reward and showing God’s love to others don’t have to conflict, they are designed to go hand in hand. As we give to others, our hearts will soften for them as well. If your heart isn’t soft for the poor, but you are motivated to give (at least to some degreee) by Jesus’ instruction to seek reward in heaven, your heart will follow your giving and you will ultimately show God’s love and experience a greater compassion for the poor than you had before. It’s what’s best for all parties involved!

      Something that has been life changing for me is truly realizing that Jesus’ commands and other instruction in the Bible on how we should live are truly in our own ultimate best interest as well as the best interest of His Kingdom. So if I “die to myself” and “take up my cross daily” somehow in the Kingdom of God, this is best for God’s Kingdom advancement and is also best for me personally, if not now, definitely in eternity where “the scales” will be removed and I’ll be able to better see God’s full plan. I’m far from talking about prosperity theology here and don’t believe our immediate life circumstances will necessarily be better, they may actually get worse from purely a worldly viewpoint. However, if you believe what Jesus says about eternal rewards, those circumstances are less important (not 100% irrelevant) as you can trust in Christ’s promise of the long term reward. I can than move forward without letting these circumstances completely derail my faith. Again, I’m not talking about salvation, as that is clearly not tied to our works. I will also add that if rewards are focused on in neglect of other scripture, than this concept (like any other) can become warped on how it’s lived out. If in my heart I am “using” solely to get a reward, I will likely be offensive to them. However, if I’m motivated to simply give money or time to help someone, I believe scripture says my heart will follow that and I will be able to genuinely love them.

      I think ignoring or writing off the doctrine of eternal reward is relatively common, unfortunately. I think it is vitally important to help bring proper perspective to life and what is truly important. Deep down, I believe we’re all motivated by something and God obviously knows that. No one has a problem when someone talks about enjoying the feeling they get from giving. If giving makes someone feel good, they personally are getting a benefit. They are motivated to some degree by the positive feeling they get from giving(which is only temporal by the way), which is also self seeking to some degree, correct? If that is an acceptable motivation, than why is it improper to seek an eternal reward that will benefit me for eternity, not just temporarily? I see nothing wrong with either motivation. If we are following the commands of Christ and living by His Word, and we benefit in the process, I see no conflict in that. We clearly have received infinite benefit from the gift of God’s Grace which brings us to salvation in Christ. Should I reject that gift because I attained it by realizing the eternal benefit it would provide me of an eternity in heaven and not hell? Accepting this gift of salvation is eternally self serving as well, yet we clearly encourage that (as we should!) as we are hopelesss without it!

      • says

        Jason,
        Thanks so much. I think your comment adds a lot of value to this post.

        I really like how you approach eternal rewards from a healthy perspective. So often people tie it so closely to prosperity gospel that it becomes a complete turn off. I think that how you presented the information makes a lot of sense and honors God in the process.

        Great comment.

  3. says

    When we fix our eyes on Christ — keeping Him the center — all things seem to fall into place. Our heart motivation increasingly becomes less of us and more of Him. Therefore, the longer we ABIDE in Him and the more we invest in HIM he will do abundantly more than we can ever imagine. Giving is an outward show of our joy as Christians — it is a resting in the assurance that God is able to provide our needs. It is also a way to spur on the Gospel to people who are serving (like yourself) in parts of the world that we may not be able to go. If he clothes the lilies of the field and takes care of the sparrows (Matthew 6) he’ll take care of us.

  4. Jim Titus says

    In another post you mention that you haven’t read any of Randy Alcorns books,
    “Randy Alcorn, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve not read anything he’s written. I’ve typically only read things that I find in a second hand store. Over the next few months I may need to break down and order one.”
    He has an excellent book called the treasure principle that talks all about this topic and may help you. Also in another topic others were talking about Dave Ramsey and I agree with what others have said about him so this book will swing the pendulum the other way and I believe is more biblical that what Dave Ramsey teaches.
    Have a blessed “memorial day”

    • says

      Jim,
      Thanks so much for your comment.
      I’ve had a lot of people encourage me to read some of the things that Randy has written. He is on my reading list and I hope to share some of my reflections on his books in the next few weeks.

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