In August 2019, I finally entered the stock market only to experience the index’s worst day of the year less than 48 hours later. I felt like pulling out, but my father-in-law took time to patiently answer my questions and encourage me to invest with a long-term perspective in mind.
The reality is, a real long-term investing strategy looks far beyond retirement—to eternity.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He told his disciples to stop focusing on collecting treasures here on earth. Earthly treasures can be destroyed—like a moth larvae eating clothing or rust corroding a hammer. Earthly treasures don’t last. Instead, Jesus directed kingdom citizens to treasure things that are eternal and cannot be destroyed or stolen. He said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20).
So, what things do you treasure most? Your house? Your car? Your TV? Your phone?
- What do you think about when you wake up?
- What do you spend your money on?
- What would crush you if you lost it?
Perhaps you don’t treasure possessions; maybe it’s your wife and kids that you treasure the most. You might work extra hours so you can give your kids a good education and memorable vacations. Or, you might make it your highest priority to spend all your extra time with your kids.
While it is admirable to value your family relationships above possessions, this is not the type of treasure Jesus was talking about. To be sure, children are an inheritance and reward from the Lord (Ps. 127:3), but we must love God more than we love our children (Matt. 10:37).
Jesus challenges His disciples not just to stop prioritizing earthly things, but also to lay up treasure in heaven.
But how can we do that? And as a father, how can I pass that value system on to my kids?
1. Be Rich in Good Works
It’s not sinful to be wealthy. In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul tells Timothy to charge the rich (no pun intended) “…not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” It’s fine to enjoy a beautiful house, a steak dinner, or a nice vacation, but these things should not be our primary focus. Paul then describes the riches we should pursue: “…to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future…” (1 Tim 6:18-19).
“One of the ways that you can lay up treasures in heaven is to generously share the good gifts God has given you on earth.”
It’s not how much we have, but how we use it that counts most for eternity. It’s ironic that Paul charges rich people to use their earthly possessions as a means of laying up heavenly treasures. One of the ways that you can lay up treasures in heaven is to generously share the good gifts God has given you on earth.
My dad’s example of generosity toward others showed me as a kid that he did not treasure his possessions. As a stingy kid, I was sometimes bothered by his generosity, but now I understand that long-term investment strategy: Lay up treasure in heaven.
2. Value Your Redemption
Heavenly treasures are not just good works you do for God; they include those good things that God has done for you. The greatest treasure of all is the redemption that Jesus purchased for you through His death on the cross for your sins “according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph 1:3-14) He died so that through faith in Him, you can become a child of God and joint heir with Christ.
Peter described this inheritance as “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4). No moth or rust can destroy that inheritance. No thief can steal you from the Father if you have put your life in His hands.
Show your kids that you treasure your salvation by talking about it. Remind them you’re a sinner too and explain how precious God’s forgiveness is. Sing songs that highlight the value of your redemption, like “Jesus Paid it All” and “Jesus, Thank You.”
3. Treasure Christ
When our children know we value Christ above all else, they know we can be trusted and followed. The greatest gift we can give our wives and children is not a new house, a nice minivan (good investment), or an unforgettable vacation. Even more than needing our immediate attention and time, our families need to know that we have eternal priorities. They need to know that dad is a heavenly-minded man. Christ should be the object of our greatest delight. He should be our greatest treasure, for all the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are found in Christ (Col 2:3). In Him we find riches that are immeasurable (Eph 2:7) and inscrutable (Eph 3:8).
One of the most impactful moments for me as a boy came one Saturday morning when I walked into my parent’s bedroom and found my dad kneeling by his bed in prayer before we spent the day together as a family. I don’t remember what we did that day, but I remembered that my dad prioritized Christ and His Word.
Treasuring Christ starts each morning and continues throughout the day. As men, we talk about what we treasure–our job, our sports team, our house projects, our investments, our guns, our cars, etc. And when Jesus is a significant part of our daily conversation, our families will know that He is our priority and they will find rest in the stability that He brings to the home.
If we are honest, we all find our hearts pulled towards earthly treasures at times. The good news is that God is able to change the desires of our heart so we will start prioritizing eternal things. As Jesus concludes in verse 21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”