“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, NKJV).
There is a rare doctrine which has been built around this quotation from Jesus called “The Doctrine of Non-Accumulation.” The overall point of this teaching is that it is sinful for followers of Christ to save money in investments such as retirement accounts or insurance. If this interpretation of the passage is right, then it means many are wrong. However, this is not the true point or meaning of the passage.
Jesus, in this statement, uses a common method of comparison called an “idiom of exaggerated contrast” (The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary). A clue he was using this type of contrast is found in the usage of “not” and “but” in the phrasing. It is a method of comparison intended to “deny the lesser, while emphasizing the greater.” We find it many times in Biblical usage such as John 6:26-27; 1 Corinthians 1:17 and 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
An uninspired example of this type of language can be found in John F. Kennedy’s famous statement, “Ask NOT what your country can do for you, BUT what you can do for your country.” Perhaps a lesser known, but similar type of statement is the Czech Proverb, “Do NOT protect yourself by a fence, BUT rather by your friends.” JFK was not condemning receiving benefits from the government, nor is this Czech Proverb a campaign against backyard fences. The real point of the comparison is to realize that which is of lesser importance and that which is of greater importance.
Jesus is doing the same thing by His statement in Matthew 6! His goal is not a condemnation of saving or investing (that would contradict the Parable of the Talents wouldn’t it?). Instead, Jesus wants us to see what is of greater importance in this life.
God did not intend for earthly treasures to be life’s primary focal point because they are temporal. Do we need money for food, clothing, shelter and even old age? Yes. So, some thought must be taken and some saving might need to take place. Yet, hoarding and accumulating money and things is not to be the Christian’s emphasis (cp. James 5:1-3) So, what is our emphasis? Jesus says “treasures in heaven.” This world is not our home, but heaven is. Yet, how much time each day do we spend on our earthly focusvs. our heavenly? Let’s make life’s emphasis on the treasures which pave the road to eternity.