(Read Time: 5min)
In Matthew 6:19-20 we find these words
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Mat 6:19-20
Normally speaking most commentators would take the direction of using this passage to show that we are in no need to seek after and want material possessions and wealth. This is a good position and very understandable and Biblical. Nothing refutes this idea about laying aside the lust of money and storing up wealth in God’s glory.
But what if this passage is not about money so much as it is about praise?
When reading the beginning of this chapter we see the Jesus has a lot of topics He is covering. Giving charitably, praying and fasting appropriately, then He addresses treasures and not being anxious. At least at the beginning we see no reference about money nor material wealth except for giving charitably. But the overemphasized point in these passages is do not seek to be seen by men, rather seek to be silent and secret in these good deeds.
Give without letting people know, pray without being public, fast without being sickly looking - it is all about not looking for people to praise you but to be praised of God. He mentions why the religious leaders do all they do, “…that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” It emphasizes the real meaning of why we would do these things if we keep quiet. The rewards are found in God and not in man. Then Jesus seemingly changes the corner with this idea about treasures in Heaven. Or does He?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…”
What if it is all the same theme? What if Jesus’ point is not so much about money and material possessions as it is about finding your praise among men? It is a far more selfish desire to seek praise from people. Why do we want to say we are rich or have much possessions? Is it not because of seeing peoples’ eyes lighten up and be envious? Maybe Jesus’ had this thought in mind also when He said to forget the treasures on earth but to lay up treasures in Heaven.
Can moth and rust destroy the praise of man? Both deteriorate possessions, but the praise of man can be elusive and lost quickly for no reason. Can thieves break in and steal? Sure, another can step up and show how much more righteous they are than we if we are seeking approval from man.
The normal interpretation is completely understandable and Biblical, but this thought of your treasures being the praise of man could be possible too. Whatever the case, seek God and His approval and you won’t have to worry which way this verse is pointed.