Matthew 6:16-24 (ESV)

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

As we move through the Sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus continue to point out the difference between the practices of the outwardly religious and the way God desires people to live. At the time, those who sought God fasted as an act of self-denial to focus on spiritual things. Many of the religious leaders made it obvious to others that they were fasting in an attempt to be recognized as “spiritual.” Jesus clarified that if they fasted to gain the approval of man, then man’s approval was their reward. God isn’t interested in commending those who do the right thing for the wrong reason. Then Jesus hit hard on the topic of money. In verses 19 through 20, Jesus warns against the opinion of the day that said money was a measure of righteousness. The Pharisees believed that God financially blesses those he loves. So, to be seen as righteous, they put much effort into amassing for themselves material possessions on earth. Jesus revealed the foolishness of investing merely in the things of this life and instructed his audience to invest in the life to come.

What’s exciting about Jesus’ teaching is that we actually can “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.” When we choose to do things God’s way, even if it means loss for us now, we can be certain of gaining eternal reward. Many say, “All I want is to go to heaven. I don’t need an eternal reward.” Though this can sound humble and right, it may betray a form of spiritual laziness. Jesus clearly stressed the need to live in a way that will bring eternal gain. Jesus explains in verse 21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It takes more faith to live for treasure in the life to come than to live for treasure in this life. The one who lives to amass the biggest eternal reward possible is ultimately employing the greatest amount of faith. Is your heart in heaven or on earth? Do you seek an eternal reward? If not, you aren’t exercising the faith that Jesus calls his followers to live by. If you are seeking an eternal reward, be encouraged! You are living consistently with your desire to please God. Let’s rejoice today that as Christians we can look forward to treasure that will never be taken from us.