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. [Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)]
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. [Matthew 16:27 [(ESV)]
“A Christian doesn’t die,” declared the pastor, which may have been news to some of those attending the Celebration of Life. “He just moves!” the minister added as an explanation. Indeed, we are just temporary residents here on earth. Death for a Christian is simply a relocation and, unlike most moves we’ve made, it doesn’t require a purging of the items in the attic, garage sales, packing up boxes, or wrangling friends into helping us carry the heavy stuff! This is one transfer that neither requires moving vans nor mail forwarding.
Although we can’t take anything with us, our pastor often reminds us that we can send things on ahead! That doesn’t mean we gather our favorite possessions and take them to FedEx but it does mean we can store treasures in heaven. Unlike treasure here on earth, however, heavenly treasure has no monetary value. It’s made of up things like earnest prayers for others (including our enemies), sharing the gospel message, loving unconditionally, using our wealth for God’s good works, being generous with our time and talents, obedience, patience, taking a stand against evil and wrongs, and fulfilling God’s purpose for us. These are the treasures laid up in heaven and no good deed will be overlooked.
At first, that sounds a lot like salvation through works but it isn’t. All the good works in the world won’t get us into heaven without belief in Jesus. We are saved through God’s grace—it is His gift to us. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for our ticket to eternal life. There is, however, some fine print on that ticket—once we get there, God will hold us accountable for His gifts to us in this life. Were we good stewards who used them wisely or did we squander His blessings? Did we invest God’s gifts in His kingdom or bury them in the ground? Did our activities transform the world in some way? Did we change anyone’s life for the better?
I can’t pretend to know what our heavenly rewards will be but I seriously doubt they’ll be anything like gold faucets and marble floors for the truly generous and just stainless and linoleum for those who didn’t tithe. I think the rewards will have something to do both with joy and responsibility. Here on earth, responsibility sounds suspiciously like work and work is hardly what we consider a reward, especially in heaven! Yet, in the parable of the talents, Jesus told the servants who had invested wisely that they would be given even more opportunities to serve their master. The difference between earthly work and heavenly work is that it won’t be a burden; work in God’s kingdom will be a joy! Perhaps the greatest reward, however, will be hearing His voice say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”