I have often been intrigued by the idea of laying up “treasures in heaven.” Of being mindful that there is stuff we do in the here and now that results in the accumulation and deposit of valuable collectibles in the there and then. Investments made on earth that impact the dividends realized in heaven.
Jesus told each of His disciples to invest their own HRA (Heaven-bound Retirement Account). For not only would it pay off in the future through the realization of a spiritual treasury “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal”, but it would also pay benefits in the present, having the very practical effect of keeping their hearts aligned towards their true home, heaven, the place where this eternal repository is being established (Matt. 6:19-21).
Paul picks up on the theme in one of his letters, as well. He tells Timothy to “charge” those “rich in this present age” not to set their hopes on “the uncertainty of riches.” Instead, Timothy was to encourage these well-off saints to be “rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” And for the same reasons. That they would store up “treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future” and, in so doing, “take hold of that which is truly life” (1Tim. 6:17-19 ESV).
So I can’t help but think that future returns are to be a motivating factor in present investments — of our treasures, our talents, and our time. As such, we need to be mindful of our investment portfolios.
And I’m thinking it’s this filter, activated by my resident Illuminator, that serves up the following verse to chew on this morning.
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
(Philippians 4:17 ESV)
As Paul wraps up his letter to the church in Philippi, he acknowledges their faithful, financial partnering from the “beginning” when he shared the gospel with them and then “left Macedonia” to share it with others. No other church had “entered into partnership” with him. But they were giving Paul their money, and Paul was receiving it in order to preach the gospel (Php. 4:14-16).
But while Paul appreciated the funds, he didn’t “seek the gift.” Instead he intensely desired that it was being credited to their account. His immediate financial benefit was their future spiritual blessing. His need being met today was their heavenly storehouses being filled with”fruit that increases to your credit” for tomorrow.
And while most Christians I know are “invested” in foreign missions and missionaries to a greater or lesser extent, the thought occurs to me of how much we may limit our “portfolio” of heavenly investments as we’ve adopted a more individualized view of our faith. As we focus on our “personal relationship” with God, do we sometimes lose sight that the relationship with a heavenly Father comes in the context of having been adopted into an earthly family? That as we’ve followed the lead of our culture, which sees church as a “service” to consume on a Sunday morning (if we choose), we’re missing opportunities by forgetting it is also “the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10) in which we are abe to invest in 24/7. And those investments, I’m thinking, also bear fruit that increases to our credit.
I’m not just talking tithing on Sunday mornings. But I’m also talking investing in people throughout the week. Generous with brothers and sisters in Christ. Generous, not just with our treasure and talents, but with our time as well. Seeing these valuable resources invested in others as truly part of storing up treasure in heaven for ourselves.
Maybe it’s worth reviewing my heavenly portfolio, making sure it’s balanced and that I’m maximizing my investments.
Because of His grace. Ultimately for His glory.