Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
The earthly and the heavenly treasuries are first compared together, and then the reason is given for preferring the latter.
I. THE EARTHLY TREASURY.
1. Its locality. A treasury on earth. The thought is of the accumulation of material wealth. This may be of the choicest kind - works of art, gold, and jewels. Still, it is all earthly, and it does not imply any share in heavenly things, any portion in the unseen world.
2. Its imperfection. Even while its treasures remain in it they may be spoiled. The moth devours the Babylonish garment; the rust corrodes the bright steel and tarnishes the polished silver. Shares depreciate in value while we hold the scrip. Worse than all this, the value to us of earthly treasure may be corrupted; because we may toil successfully for wealth, and yet when we have got it we may discover to our dismay that we have lost the capacity to enjoy it.
3. Its insecurity. What cannot be spoiled by insect or atmosphere may be stolen. Without waiting for the slow action of rust and moth, riches may take themselves wings and flee away. The thief may dig through the mud-built house (see Job 24:16); the skilled burglar may break open the iron safe; the trusted banker may abscond with the stock that is lodged with him. At last the great thief death will rob us of all our earthly store by one irresistible stroke.
II. THE HEAVENLY TREASURY.
1. Its nature. What is this heaven in which we are to store our treasures? Heaven is not an astronomical locality, nor is it simply the abode of the blessed dead; it is wherever God's presence is manifested and enjoyed. Therefore to lay up treasure in heaven is to store it with God; to have our possessions in him; to entrust our all to him; to know that when we go to God we shall find our wealth.
2. Its riches. The nature of the treasury determines the sort of wealth that is to be stored in it. Possessions of land cannot be kept in a cash-box; works of art must not be stowed away in a wine-cellar. If heaven is our treasury, only heavenly riches can be collected there. It will not do for us to reckon our property by gold or any material things, for heaven has no room for such sordid wealth. The "unsearchable riches of Christ" are there - faith and love, pardon and peace, life and gladness, purity and power.
3. Its security. This heavenly treasury is safe. No corruption can breathe in the pure atmosphere of heaven; no thief can break open its mighty gates; death is powerless to enter its realm of eternal life. Nothing can destroy or rob us of our spiritual possessions in Christ.
III. THE GROUNDS OF CHOICE. Enough reason for preferring the heavenly treasury might be found in the great contrast between its security and the deceptive insecurity of all earthly treasuries. But Christ introduces a much higher consideration. "Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also." Therefore if the treasury is on earth, the heart will dwell in this lower region; but if the treasury is in heaven, the heart will soar to the heights of God. Our thoughts, our very selves, dwell with what we prize most highly. Here is a greater danger than that of the disappointment of loss - viz. that of the permanent degradation of a low affection. The chief reason for choosing heavenly treasures is that we may not set our affections on things of the earth, that we may have our thoughts and desires drawn up to what is heavenly. Thus only shall we escape from the sordid mind that gloats over sordid treasures, and win the pure and heavenly mind that aims at highest good. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: