I am so glad you asked about this, my dear friend. By way of background, Matthew, chapters 5 through 7 tell us about the Sermon on the Mount, where the Lord Jesus taught His disciples and the multitude which came to Him (Matthew 5:1-3). The teachings here have to do with the nature of and the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. I will venture to say that this teaching was directed mainly to the disciples and the multitudes who gathered to hear Jesus 2000 years ago, and will be applicable to the children of Israel in the end times, but is also very applicable for all of us who love the King today. So, let’s take a look at the portion you are asking about. 

We read in Matthew 6:20-21, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Now, as to these verses, I believe that the Lord Jesus is explaining about where the desires and hearts of His children should actually be focused. William MacDonald in his Bible Commentary on this portion says, “If your treasures are in heaven, your interests will be centered there.” And so, my dear friend, where are our interests truly centered? Is Christ more important to us than all the riches and pleasures of this world? Are we trusting in ourselves for our happiness and security and in what we can store up for the future on this earth; or are we trusting solely in the Lord who takes care of His own? The teaching in Matthew 6:20-21 should challenge us as to where our affections truly are, and in what (or in Whom) we are trusting for our lives. I believe that the gist of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 6:20-21 is that there is no real security to be found in the things of this earth, which things are passing away. But the heavenly things cannot be taken away by earthly calamities, and heavenly things do not pass away. Thus, I believe that what the Lord would have His people of any generation to know is that happiness and security can only be found in our Lord. Walking with our Lord, trusting in Him for our salvation, and doing those things which are pleasing to Him are very visible demonstrations of where the affections of our heart reside. And what are those riches that we should be storing in heaven? Ephesians 1:3-14 gives us a great summary of the vast riches we have been given in Christ Jesus. Living for Jesus is indeed part of storing up riches in heaven; we as Christians are to show the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives through faithful service to the Lord.  Our reward for trusting Christ for salvation and for faithful service in our lives is the heavenly riches that Christ has given and will give us who are saved. These riches can never be lost! I do want to stress here that storing up riches in heaven does not mean that we are trying to get to heaven by our good works on this earth. We are not saved by doing kind and good things for others in this world, though good works are indeed expected of Christians; but we are saved only by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Finally, I want to bring out what these verses clearly are not saying. These Scriptures do not at all mean that we should not work or be prudent with what we earn. We are told in the Scriptures: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” (1 Timothy 5:8).  We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat…Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” In another Scripture we read, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth,” (Ephesians 4:28). But though we do need to work in order to feed ourselves and our families, and though Christians are expected to be good stewards of the resources that we have been given so that we can bless others, we must not make the gaining of earthly riches the sole focus of our lives. The stock market crash in 1929 wiped out the fortunes of many a rich man in the United States, and indeed, the dismal effects of the failed economy were felt also around the world. There are many other issues that can take away our wealth and earthly security such as diseases, wars, fires, hurricanes and tornadoes, mudslides, earthquakes, and/or thieves (and there are so many different examples of these in our world today). Any or all of these can and do destroy earthly fortunes in a moment, so I believe that the Lord has given us the teaching of Matthew 6:20-21 to show best how to secure our futures-by putting our trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and by trusting in His mercy and care for His children. One of my favorite Scriptural portions is found in Lamentations 3:22-23 where we read: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”  (SF)  (579.5)