Boy we love to plan for the future don’t we? We’re taught to do good in school, go to college, get a high paying job, and save for retirement. Everything is done with tomorrow in mind as if we’re even guaranteed tomorrow, as if we have the right to enjoy our hard work and the fruits of our labor and are promised a long, healthy life. We’re conditioned to store up for ourselves the things of this world as badges of honor and ingenuity, to show those around us that we’re successful, that we’ve arrived. But the Bible teaches not to trust in these things. It instructs us not to find our value in the sum of our possessions (Luke 12:15).
There are two distinct teachings in God’s word that directly correlate with our desire to have more possessions and plan for the future. Let’s examine these passages and see how we may be wrong about the idea of getting more.
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
“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.”
The first passage, found in the book of Luke, highlights what’s wrong when we continue to seek material success over God. The rich man in this parable is thoughtfully planning what he’ll do with his excess to the detriment of his spiritual wellbeing. It’s an easy mistake to make when we focus solely on the things of this world. To look forward to the ease that wealth can bring us gives a false sense of trust in the things that can pass away instead of our relationship with God (1 John 2:15-17).
The second passage, found in Matthew chapter 6, is a general warning about where we should place our faith. When we store up earthly treasures, the things that will ultimately be forgotten and destroyed, we place our faith and hope in that which is finite. Placing our treasure in God and our home that awaits in heaven helps us to stay focused on Him and his will and keeps our hearts strong with an eternal mindset.
God is fully aware that the material things of this world can be a wonderful blessing. After all, he created all that we see around us and has given us the talents to earn a living and be successful. But he wants us all to remember that this life is truly fragile and temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18). To put our trust in stuff means we really don’t trust God to meet our needs. Instead, we should surrender our lives to him, offering them as a living sacrifice, knowing that far greater treasures lie ahead.