“Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consumes and destroys, and where thieves do not break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 AMPC)
Every time I’ve read this passage from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, I’ve wondered what the treasures are that we gather in the heavenly bank account. This begs the question: what is important to God in our lives? Here are a few “treasures” I believe can increase our heavenly bank balance:
Giving Financially into the Kingdom of God
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 AMPC)
“Let each one [give] as he had made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves [He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].” (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMPC)
Let’s face it, people cannot make it in this world without money. It is a necessity of life that can be a matter of life and death. For example, the widow woman that gave her last amount of bread to the prophet Elijah received oil and meal supernaturally throughout the remainder of the famine in that land (I Kings 17:7-16). We can’t forget the widow who gave her last mite to God’s Kingdom and Jesus commended her to this day that one small act lives on to inspire us to do the same (Luke 21:1-4). Each one of these women made deposits in their heavenly bank account by being willing to give that last they had to God’s Kingdom.
I went through a time of great lack for two or three years, even now it’s tight a portion of each month, but not near as tough as in those days. I adopted what I call “widow woman economics.” I would give every last bit of money I had in my wallet into God’s Kingdom every time the offering plate passed me by. My heart wanted to give a lot more but I just didn’t have it, so I gave everything I did have. He never failed to provide and help me in the desperate time I was in. Eventually, He brought income streams to me that are sustaining me to this day. He is so faithful!
It’s the HEART of giving that the Lord is looking for, not the amount you give. In the Old Covenant, it’s ten percent, in the New Covenant, it’s one hundred percent. The heart of giving is being willing to give it all. I remember getting a gift from a relative for $100. I was so excited! As I was looking at the check, I was thinking about what I could buy with it, then the Lord said to give it to your sister. My attitude was right because I was happy to do that. I obeyed His request and shortly thereafter, I began to get regular gifts over what I was currently making. I learned through this that God is always after our HEARTS. Everything in God’s Kingdom is about the HEART.
Forgiveness and Graciousness
“Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22 AMPC)
“Therefore the Kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants. When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10 million], and because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and everything he possessed, and payment be made. So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, “have patience with me and I will pay you everything.” And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [canceling] the debt. But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, “pay me what you owe!”
So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, “give me time, and I will pay you all!” But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master. Then his master called him and said to him, “you contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and canceled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to. And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you? And in wrath, his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed. So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.” (Matthew 18:23-35 AMPC)
We are all human and are going to make mistakes and hurt other people sometimes. However, there are people who like treating people badly. These scriptures are talking about fellow servants. Christians treating other Christians wrongly. Whether it is someone who doesn’t know Jesus or another Christian, our attitude should be one of forgiveness and grace. So many times it is the people closest to us that hurt us. But God requires us to forgive them anyway over and over again. The treasure you can gain in your heavenly bank account with a heart willing to forgive wrongs over and over again is immeasurable.
I’ve had times when I was ripped off in business agreements and I knew it was just gone and not coming back, so I had to forgive those debts from my heart and trust God to help me with the problems. He was absolutely faithful to help me. I learned through forgiveness and releasing offenses that God loves to help with an attitude like that. On the flip side, I’ve been guilty of hurting someone and no amount of apologizing was going to heal the relationships. The Bible says we are to go and try and make amends and if they refuse, then that is all we can do (Matthew 5:24).
Whichever side of this issue we are on, it is the attitude of our heart that determines God’s pleasure in us. By forgiving those who hurt us or wrong us, we store up treasures. By repenting and seeking forgiveness for wrongs we have done, God is pleased when we humble ourselves. Humility is a treasure in heaven. What I have learned is that we should ask God to let us see everyone through His eyes. When we do this, it helps us to stay unoffended by anyone. Mercy and compassion are our companions with this attitude.
Cultivating the Fruit of Spirit
“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence without accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things, there is no law [that can bring a charge]” (Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC).
The fruit of the Spirit on full display in a Christian’s life does more to win the lost than all the preaching in the world. The very process of cultivating this fruit stores up treasures in heaven. The fruit of the Spirit is the building blocks of you as the temple of the Holy Spirit. The foundation is the Agape love of God, joy comes with just knowing Jesus and being filled with His Spirit; the peace of God that passes all understanding and is found nowhere else but in God. A person who exhibits this peace remains calm in the fieriest of trials. With peace in place, we can easily cultivate patience with others no matter how mean they are to us. When we are patient we can be kind to others in the face of their rudeness. Out of kindness, good deeds follow. Jesus said to “do good to those who despitefully use you.” (Matthew 5:44). At this point, you understand how to be faithful to do what you are called to do, are required to do, and fulfill promises you have made. Finally, the fruit of self-control is a culmination of all the fruits cultivated. A person who is self-controlled isn’t hot-headed, doesn’t let abuse change their self-confidence or identity, and can resist the fiercest temptations of the enemy. They are able to love their enemies and do kind things for them. They never let their tongue speak anything but life-giving words.
Can you see what a mountain of treasures is found in the fruit of the Spirit? I don’t know anyone who has ‘arrived’ at the pinnacle of this but I’m sure they are out there. I haven’t yet but it is always my goal to achieve this level of Christ-likeness.
Demonstrating the Agape Love of God
The Agape love of God is what defines His very character. As we are created in His image, He expects us to let this love fill us up and flow out of us to the world around us. This is much easier said than done, especially these days. I believe that if we can successfully cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, then Agape love will naturally flow out of us almost effortlessly! Why is this so important? Because God wants to LOVE people. All people. He has proven His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us and pay for our sins. (Romans 5:8). Now He is expecting His people to let His great love flow through us to the people in our realm of influence. Can you imagine what kind of changes could be done in the world if Christians would do this?
Every act of Agape love we do is a treasure in our heavenly bank account. What are the characteristics of Agape love? I Corinthians lays it out plain for us. “Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy, fretful, or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes and is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].” (I Corinthians 13:4-8 AMPC).
You can see how important love is in the Kingdom of God. The very foundation of the fruit of the Spirit is this love. Without God’s love, we cannot love people into the Kingdom. We cannot represent Jesus properly to those around us. The more we pursue this love, the more God can use us to help people, and the more treasures we store up in our heavenly bank account.
Faithfulness in Prayer and in His Word
Prayer and Word times are times spent with God building an intimate relationship. It begins here. But it has to be consistent to build to higher levels. God says in James 4:8 “Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” When we take a step towards Him doing these two simple things, God WILL move us into a deeper relationship.
There have been so many times when life has beaten me down and my faith could not be found. I couldn’t bring myself to pray and even open my Bible at times. That was where the answers to my problems were yet I was so spiritually weak I couldn’t do it. But God is FAITHFUL to never leave us or forsake us. He is aware that we are but flesh and have struggles. For me it started with getting up, getting my coffee, and sitting on my bed saying “thank You Lord for a good night’s sleep.” Thank You, Lord….and I just thanked Him. I would read one verse out of the Bible wherever I landed in it and then closed it. But this led to a growing hunger for more of His presence and more of His Word. Sometimes we just have to start over and start small. As we build faithfulness into our times with God, we are building more than a relationship. Treasures are being stored up as well!
Keeping Your Commitments and Promises
“Lord, who shall dwell [temporarily] in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell [permanently] on Your holy hill? He who walks and lives uprightly and blamelessly, who works rightness and justice and speaks and thinks the truth in his heart. He who does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord (who revere and worship Him); who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15:1-5 AMPC).
“He who swears to his own hurt” is key here. When we tell someone we are going to do something, we need to be faithful to do it. Keeping your promises not only enriches your heavenly bank account, but it speaks volumes to the lost around you. The rest of the world breaks their promises all the time. Our word should be kept to show the character of God in us; otherwise, the salt has lost its savor and is good for nothing.
There have been times when I said I was going to do something or go somewhere with someone and they were depending on me. It was hard, but I kept my word and I know that God was pleased with me during those times. On the flip side, I have been guilty of NOT keeping my word or commitments and I have missed out on rewards I’m sure. We are human and don’t always do what we are supposed to do but when we recognize that, we just repent, get up and keep moving forward and purpose in our heart to be true to our word next time we have the opportunity.
Bridle Your Tongue
“And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell.” (James 3:6 AMPC)
But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless the Lord and Father, and with it, we curse men who were made in God’s likeness! Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.” (James 3:8-10 AMPC)
Probably the biggest challenge every human being on the planet has is letting our tongue be used to hurt others. It can happen so subtlely. It’s so easy to slip into gossip and slander. As we saw in the fruits of the Spirit and the Agape love, taming the tongue is possible through God. In ourselves, we have no power to tame it; only by obeying the Word to love and obey Him can we hope to speak life into the lives of others.
A person who can reach the place where they are full of the fruit of the Spirit and flowing in Agape love is fully capable of taming the tongue and putting it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said that ALL things are possible to him who believes! Speaking life into a person’s life or a situation stores up treasures in heaven because we are obeying His Word to speak positive things over people and situations.
Unfortunately, I have not arrived here yet because I have areas that are still too “fleshy.” But I’m getting there slowly but surely. What do we do when we sin with our mouths? We first of all repent and ask the Father to forgive us and cleanse us from the sin. Second, we need to go and make amends if necessary. We must be humble enough to admit we have sinned in this way and to go and apologize to anyone who has been hurt by our words. What if they don’t accept it? That is between them and God. As long as we do our part, that is all God requires of us. We aren’t responsible for them accepting it or not.
Not long ago I was offended at a couple of people and did not deal with it well. I sinned with my mouth and hurt them. I felt terrible! I reached out and apologized to them and one of them accepted my apology and the other one ignored it completely. Sometimes when we offend others, the relationship is destroyed and fellowship is severed. Maybe for a season or maybe for life. It is so important that we stay unoffended because offense WILL ignite strife if we aren’t diligent to deal with it properly.
God values a humble heart willing to apologize and seek peace. It is a treasure that we store up. He gives grace and favor when we are obedient to properly deal with the messes we make with our mouths. There is an old saying that says “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” which applies here.
When we are hurt by other people’s words, we should go straight to God and forgive and release them. This will diffuse our tongue. Instead, we should pray for them, speak words of life and blessing over them like Jesus told us to. This is such a treasure to Him to see grace and mercy flow from us!
Winning the Lost and Making Disciples
“Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so be it).” (Matthew 28:18-20 AMPC)
The great commission is our mandate to win the lost and teach them the ways of God. Some people have the gift of boldly proclaiming to others and the charisma to reach them effectively while others have other just as effective ways of winning the lost. Everyone has a gift and a talent to reach certain types of people. We just need to tap into it. However we do it and whenever we do it, we are making big deposits into our heavenly bank accounts! The Bible says that all of heaven erupts in celebration when one lost soul enters the Kingdom. Some people are destined to win thousands and even millions such as Billy Graham or Rinehardt Bonke while others may be here to reach just one person that would otherwise be lost. God is all about the one. He is an individual God and everyone is equally important to Him; no matter how vile the world regards them.
One thing I’ve learned is that soul-winning and making disciples is not a one-size-fits-all effort. We should not compare ourselves to others in any way because God doesn’t have cookie-cutter people. We are ALL one-of-a-kind masterpieces created by God for a specific purpose only we can do for Him. When we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others it leads to insecurity and despair that we won’t measure up to God’s standards when in reality, He’s just crazy about us just as we are! Understanding our value to God is so important in overcoming life’s obstacles and pitfalls. So whatever your gift is, use it faithfully and that is all you need to do.
Living a Holy and Obedient Lifestyle
“So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing: then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 AMPC)
“[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirement of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 AMPC)
The Word is very clear about this. Our lives SHOULD reflect His holiness. Holy means “set apart” for God’s purposes. That is our new lifestyle. If we profess Jesus Christ as our Savior yet our lives have not changed and we still live like we always have, then it begs the question: are you really surrendered to Jesus? The Bible says that we shall “know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
Our lifestyle should reflect the holiness of God. Period. If it doesn’t we have a problem. We cannot effectively witness or help the lost into God’s Kingdom if we are living like they do. We are not salt and light to them. It’s that simple.
Jesus said this as a warning to us all:
“Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. (Matthew 7:22-23 AMPC)
Notice that these were people who should know better since they were prophesying and casting out demons. What about all the others who are living with no change in their lifestyle? They too will hear these words. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, but in this season, we ALL need to examine our hearts seriously and get accounts settled with Jesus–if we claim to be His.
A life that is devoted to Him is a valuable treasure to God because He can flow through that person without hindrances of the flesh. What does it mean to live a life like this? It’s simply this: Make your life orbit around GOD and not yourself. Let Him actually run your life and not just be a part of your life. When you hand Him the wheel it’s a great lifestyle! Is it free of problems? No, it’s not, but with God at the helm, you always have the solution to any problem. He is the faithful One to bring the answer!
As you can see there are many ways to store up treasures in heaven! The bottom line is this: make God a priority and when you do, then you begin a life that is so fulfilling and full of the blessings of God, even in the face of trials, tribulations, and hardships!
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