“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)
There’s a verse in the Psalms that says:
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
This is a fantastic promise that God is making. He’s telling us that if we take “great pleasure” in Him, He will provide us with great blessings. This sounds so good that there has to be a catch, right? Well, yes and no.
There’s no catch in the sense that God is faithful and will keep each and every promise He makes. But there is a catch, or there would seem to be, if we just focus on the “gimme” and don’t focus on the whole verse. To help explain this, I’ll take the long approach versus a shortcut.
After reading this Psalm consider first this question: “what are the desires of my heart?” Of course the answer to this could be a bunch of different things for every person. Depending on where we are in life, our desires could be a new car, a fancy birthday gift, a spouse, or a baby or for our retirement account to double. For others of us, our greatest desire might be a meal or a cup of cold water. For me, my greatest desire is often just plain old peace and quiet or a cup of coffee with Sweet Wife.
But to really find the answer, and to help explain the “gotcha,” we should look at the words of Jesus above. He says in Matthew 6:21:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
That’s a pretty simple sentence to understand. What we treasure will capture our heart. What we adore will attract our attention, our affection and our desires. Jesus says these words in while helping us understand “treasures on earth,” and most of the time when we read this we automatically thing about money. But “treasures on earth” could also be used to describe anything on earth that we treasure.
Now take a look back at the first section of Psalm 37:4 and let’s note again what it says:
Delight yourself in the LORD…
This is the key part of this whole discussion. First, we need to delight ourselves in the Lord. This is important because if we aren’t delighting in Him then we aren’t properly understanding who we are (sinners worthy of condemnation) and who He is (a righteous and holy God) and what He has done for us (provided a way to reconcile Himself to us while we were still His enemies). If we don’t delight in Him, there is a great chance we are t in Him! When we understand the gospel we will want to delight in Him! And when we delight in Him — which comes through an understanding of the gospel — then He will be our treasure, He will be our desire.
Do you see where this is headed? When God is our desire — when we know Him and long to know Him more and to please Him more — then He is our treasure. And as Jesus says, where our “treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t desire a spouse or new shoes or whatever, but what is does mean is this. First, our greatest need has been met in Jesus Christ (we are going to heaven and not hell). Second, He loves us, knows what we need here on earth and He will provide what we need. This may not be what we think, but He loves us and will meet our needs. Third, this means that all of our desires should be filtered through the lens of having a Heavenly Father.
I do not live this out perfectly. In fact, I’m very bad at keeping this perspective. To be frank, I’m writing this for myself first and foremost. I need to be reminded of this every day. I hope it helps you as well.