Some years ago, I learned a great word: boondoggle. It’s a funny word. Oftentimes, using it in conversation elicits a look of confusion or a giggle, as though the word was made up or used as onomatopoeia. But, in fact, boondoggle is a real word with a great definition: “work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.” Of all the words I could think of to apply to a Christian’s pursuit of amassing treasures in this world, boondoggle hits the nail squarely on the head.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us:
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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
God’s people are not to amass or store up treasure on this earth. Why?
- They are temporary: trees fall on them, fire burns them up, kamikaze deer run into them, thieves steal them, rust destroys them.
- In Christ we have an infinitely valuable treasure in heaven that doesn’t perish, spoil or fade. We have eternal life with God.
Therefore, as a Christian, laying up treasure on earth is utter boondoggle. At best, it is a waste of time that only appears to be productive to the rest of the world. At worst, and perhaps more accurately, a Christian laying up treasure on earth is hypocrisy—i.e., it is a contradiction in terms.
So then, what does it mean for a Christian to lay up treasure in heaven? Well, to put it one way, it’s living like we have found treasure hidden in a field. In Matthew 13, Jesus told a parable explaining the surpassing value of the Kingdom of God. He said it was like treasure hidden in a field that a man found, and then, in his joy, he went and sold everything he had to buy that field. So, laying up treasure in heaven is a lifestyle lived in the light of the treasure we have in “having” God. It is a lifestyle of overflowing and abundant generosity, particularly as it relates to our money and possessions.
With God as our treasure and heaven as our home, we see our money, time and possessions not as things to be amassed and worshiped on earth for 80 years but as means through which we can invest our hearts in eternal things. For example, while our cars or homes or retirement accounts are not eternal, our neighbor is. So, when your neighbor is raising funds to adopt a child, be generous, and lay up treasure in heaven. When your neighbor is raising support to go to the mission field, be generous, and lay up treasure in heaven. When your neighbor needs clothes, drink or food, be generous with your money and possessions and lay up treasure in heaven. When your neighbor needs hope and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, be generous with your time and your very life, and lay up treasure in heaven. As Jesus said, “as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, 45).