6:19-21 (Amplified Bible)
19Do 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. 20But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Emphasis Supplied)
These simple verses contrast "treasures on earth" with "treasures in heaven". The former are very temporal, ever subject to decay and theft. Everything in this present world of the five senses sooner or later changes and passes away (See 2 Corinthians 4:18). We can't avoid that. It is a simple fact of our current existence. To fail to accept this keeps us in captivity to unreality. On the other hand "treasures in heaven" are not subject to decay or loss of any kind. This is reality.
This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is mostly applied to the accumulation of a lot of earthly possessions and that is indeed part of the picture but not the whole story. We can give up all of our earthly possessions and live a very ascetic life out in the wilderness and still be very much bound by "treasures on earth". Some of them could be our opinions about so many things, our judgments about others, our desire to "prove a point" of some kind, fixations on the pains and pleasures of the body, looking for fulfillment in all of the wrong places, and somehow hanging on tenaciously to the false sense of separation from God which leads us to feel alienation towards others who are the offspring of God. The way this whole process works is clearly delineated in the Genesis Adam and Eve story as depicted in chapters 2 and 3. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, put their opinions above what the Creator had said was for their best good, they experienced guilt, became centered on their physical bodies, began to accuse one another and to blame God, and tried to hide themselves from God because they had separated themselves from Him in their thinking. But a loving God went in search for them anyway. They weren't forsaken because of their failure. That is the story of redemption (See Luke 19:10).
We overcome our attachment to self-centeredness by storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven through expressions of love, kindness, compassion, experiencing the presence of God, seeing the face of Christ in others, and doing good to others in as many ways as we possibly can without asking for anything in return.
Consider the promise made to the Israelites as they were to enter the "land of milk and honey", the promised land, of their time.
8:7-10 (The Message)
7GOD is about to bring you into a good land, a land with brooks and rivers, springs and lakes, streams out of the hills and through the valleys. 8It's a land of wheat and barley, of vines and figs and pomegranates, of olives, oil, and honey. 9It's land where you'll never go hungry--always food on the table and a roof over your head. It's a land where you'll get iron out of rocks and mine copper from the hills. 10After a meal, satisfied, bless GOD, your God, for the good land he has given you.
We need not wait until the full visible kingdom to partake of the promised land. It is right here at hand--right now. Jesus clearly stated this as the central teaching of His mission (Luke 17:20, 21). There is always food on the Lord's table. His treasures of love and grace never run out. Nothing can take them away from us (See Romans 8:37-39). Everyday we can experience "treasures in heaven" and thus escape all of the bondage that plagues this old world. Instead we can live in the freedom of our heritage as sons and daughters of God. To live in the way of the self-centered ego trip is hell and to live in the sunshine of God's love is Heaven which begins right here and now. Which do you want for your life?
[This article was written on November 21, 2005 and is part of an ongoing series. My purpose is to encourage people to grow spiritually and to experience more of God's presence in their lives. I welcome responses from readers.