When Jesus teaches us about laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven, He first teaches us that we are not to lay up our treasures on earth. In Matthew 6:19, He tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” The next phrase explains why a focus on earthly treasures is to be avoided. Why should we not lay up treasures on earth? Because it is “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal . . .” When I was 10 years old I had a great little bike. It went absolutely everywhere with me! I loved jumping the greens at Miller Park Golf Course until the caretaker made me stop. I delivered my newspapers on my bike. I had a transistor radio strapped to the handle bars so I could listen to “Willie and the Hand Jive,” and “Angel on my Shoulder,” and “Ally Oopp” and other great hits of the day while I delivered the papers all over north Omaha and Florence. That bike was stolen while I was swimming at Miller Park pool one Saturday! It broke my heart. I got other bikes, but that’s the one I remember! My 1970 Nova went to Hawaii with us in 1974. In the summer of 1977 we returned to the states and the Nova was shipped back also. That summer I noticed rust all over the fenders and bumpers. It was pretty much eaten away! I hated that because I loved that car. I will never forget the smell of the moth balls my mother would put in one of her closets to protect her winter clothing when she put them away for the year.

In Jesus day the symbols of earthly wealth weren’t unlike those of today. To possess many fine garments was a sign of great wealth. Most people had very few changes of clothes but the wealthy had many and those that they had were the finest available. Fashions of course didn’t change as rapidly as they do today, so it would be easy to build a huge wardrobe of expensive clothing from which to choose from daily. You could “store up” many different pieces of clothing and expect them to remain in style indefinitely. But anyone who has stored up clothes in attics or closets knows the danger they face of being spoiled by moths. It was even more of problem in Jesus day.

The same is true for absolutely every earthly object we might own: rust, rot, eaten, or stolen! You can never truly preserve earthly treasures for the future. Rust, moths and thieves have a way of getting to everything sooner or later. Further, even if it’s all insured and guaranteed by the government, none of it will go with you when you die. The man in the Gospel of Luke who built barns to hold all his wealth and thought he had it made was called a fool by Jesus. Jesus said, “This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” The man died and left it all for someone else to squander away. Moths didn’t eat his wealth. Thieves didn’t steal it and rot didn’t spoil it. But still, it was all lost. When Jesus finishes talking about the parable of the “fool” who stored up so much wealth, he concludes, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21).