When it comes right down to it, humans are willing to do things for one reason: we perceive it to be in our self-interest. We will willingly (sometime eagerly) endure hardship or defer pleasure so that we can obtain good rewards. This is actually very Biblical. God created and designed us to seek and pursue our own benefit. Jesus acknowledges this reality in setting the standard by which we should love others “as we love ourselves.” However, our perspective about what is truly in our self-interest is often skewed.
Jesus clarifies exactly what is in our best interest – the rewards of His Kingdom. Jesus encourages His disciples to seek the best (truest) rewards. Treasures that will endure. Nothing on earth can match the rewards of our Father in Heaven.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents this as a binary choice. We can either seek a reward from our Father who is in heaven or we can seek reward in the world’s systems and the approval of man. We can’t do both, we must pick one or the other. We can’t serve God and money.
Matthew 6 talks about how we give, how we pray, and how we fast. Just three examples of the way we encounter this choice: do we fast or pray to impress others and receive the reward of their approval or to seek God and trust His reward in His time?
Our hearts always follow where we invest our treasure. The extent to which our finances are investing in family, neighbors, and the various communities in which we reside are a clue to where our heart is focused.
If we rely upon earthly riches, we are certain to not only lose our treasure, we also fill our heart with the things of a world that will one day be no more. By choosing the treasures of heaven, we elect to pursue real and lasting reward. That is how our true self-interest is best served.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6:19-21