How to Accumulate Treasure in Heaven

On Sunday, a friend asked me, “How do we build up treasures in heaven? And how do our actions here in this life affect our enjoyment of heaven for eternity?” Great questions, and questions every Christian should be able to answer. And the answers should affect the choices you make every day. So here are some thoughts from Scripture to get you started.

Rewards from Jesus

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus will return, and among other things, He will give believers rewards. Every believer will experience this moment. Jesus will give the rewards, and they will correspond to your activity on earth.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 speaks more about this future moment when you will appear before Christ, having received your resurrected, eternal body. At that moment, Christ will reveal the quality of your activities and works in this life. Somehow this moment will resemble a fire burning down a building, when flammable materials disappear into smoke and ashes, while non-flammable materials remain, sitting on the foundation.

This moment will not determine whether or not you enter into God’s kingdom. Your appearance at this moment guarantees that you will. And this moment will not expose and announce hidden, unconfessed sin. Instead, you will discover which of your words and actions consisted of moral and eternal value (2 Cor. 5:10). Christ will discard forever your words and actions which were sinful or trivial.  And He will retain forever those which were motivated and performed by the grace of God.

You will discover which of your words and actions consisted of moral and eternal value

What familiar setting from this present world will this moment resemble? It will not resemble a courtroom with a judges’ bench (a common misconception). Instead, it will resemble a medal presentation ceremony, similar to what happens at the Olympic games. That’s what the Greek word for ‘judgment seat,’ bema, means. And this moment will occur before Jesus Christ at the throne of God.

So what are the rewards He will distribute and what activities will He reward?

Treasure in Heaven

Luke 12:33 (and Matthew 6:19-21) provides the clearest reference to accumulating treasures in heaven. Matthew 19:21 (and Luke 18:22) provides a similar clear reference, while 1 Timothy 6:18-19 provides a similar thought.

So what do these verses have in common? They concentrate on the way you use your money and material resources in this life. They teach that this behavior determines whether you will accumulate resources of some kind in God’s eternal kingdom. His kingdom will consist of a real world, and somehow this will include accumulations of valuable resources. Unlike this crumbling world, those resources never will be consumed or lose value. They will last forever. But how you use your consumable, depreciating assets in this life determines your degree of everlasting resources in the future kingdom of God.

How you use your consumable, depreciating assets in this life determines your degree of everlasting resources in the future kingdom of God.

Are you using your material assets wisely, faithfully and according to God’s will? Are you following biblical principles of financial management? Are you meeting the needs of those who depend on you? Are you making wise investment decisions? Are you contributing to the work of your local church? Are you meeting genuine needs of brothers and sisters in Christ?

Friends in Heaven

In a very specific way, Luke 16:9-12 adds insight to the way your stewardship of resources affects your eternal assets. Christ encourages you to use your assets in this life to make friends and foster key relationships. A believer who does this accumulates more than eternal resources; he accumulates eternal friends!

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Paul provides additional insight. He teaches that the best investment you can make for eternity is to invest your resources, energy and time into reaching, mentoring and serving other people, guiding them along their journey to Christ-likeness.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy. (1 Thess. 2:19-20)

When I was a young boy, my parents partnered with an missions agency, through which they provided a monthly stipend to provide clothing, food and Christian school tuition for a young girl named Deborah, living in Indonesia. She mailed us regular handwritten notes, and occasional photographs, describing her life. We read these letters as a family and prayed for her daily before bed. I especially remember two important letters. The first informed us that she had accepted Christ as Savior at school! But the second (and last) informed us that on a fateful day, as she ran down the sidewalk during rain, she fell and died unexpectedly. We never met Deborah in person, but someday we will – in the beyond. She is one friend who will receive our family into everlasting habitations.

We never met Deborah in person, but someday we will – in the beyond. She is one friend who will receive our family into everlasting habitations.

So who are these friends in your life? Who are you winning to Christ and guiding in Christ-likeness, through your time, energy and resources? May the number grow and increase! It is the best investment you can make.

Crowns and a Kingdom

In addition to accumulating eternal resources and eternal friends, Scripture teaches the possibility of receiving crowns from Jesus. At least five crowns are mentioned.

  1. The incorruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:24-25): awarded to those believers who conduct their Christian life as an athlete competing in a race, exercising self-control and focused determination on accomplishing the will of God.
  2. The crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8): for those who genuinely look forward to the return of Jesus, conducting their lives in a conscientious manner so that they will be fully prepared to meet Him, without regrets and without surprise.
  3. The crown of rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19-20): for those who are reaching, mentoring and serving other people, guiding them along their journey to Christ-likeness.
  4. The crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:1-4): given to those who serve the church as elders, shepherding and overseeing an assembly of believers, faithfully exhibiting the character of Christ and seeking the will of Christ, not pursuing selfish ambitions
  5. The crown of life (Jam. 1:12, Rev. 2:10): some call this the martyr’s crown, and it is awarded to those who encounter especially intense suffering and trials as a Christian, even to the point of imprisonment, torture and death, but maintain their testimony and do not capitulate.

So ask yourself whether or not you are approaching your Christian life and service in a manner that would receive any of these crowns? Some of them? All of them? These are worthy considerations.

And what is the significance of these crowns? Well first, you will probably throw them before the throne of Jesus in an act of profound appreciation and supreme submission (Rev. 4:10-11). You will not parade around with them, bragging about your accomplishments. Instead, you will recognize exclusively the grace of God that enabled you to live victoriously and will do whatever you can to ensure that Jesus Christ receives all honor and glory (1 Cor. 15:10).

And there is another, secondary way that these crowns may be significant. Matthew 25:21 indicates that your conduct and asset management in this world determines your degree or position of service and responsibility in God’s future kingdom.

Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Revelation 20:4 also alludes to all resurrected believers ruling with Christ in His future kingdom. And ruling a kingdom requires a myriad of roles, positions and job descriptions. You see hints of this in Matthew 20:23, when Jesus tells His disciples that God the Father will decide which two disciples (whoever they may be) will be given the two positions to the right and left of His throne in the future kingdom. So the crowns that Jesus gives may relate to the roles and responsibilities He assigns within His kingdom administration, like a U.S. President assigns cabinet, military and judicial posts.

The crowns that Jesus gives may relate to the roles and responsibilities He assigns within His kingdom administration, like a U.S. President assigns cabinet, military and judicial posts.

Losing Your Reward

The sobering fact is that you can lose your reward and fall short of what you might have received when you stand before Christ someday. Not only will you be greatly ashamed, but you will also fail to glorify Christ to the degree that He deserves. Consider these important warnings:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18)

  • Don’t let anyone cheat you out of your full reward and rob you of your prize through false spirituality and false teaching!

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (2 John 8)

  • Don’t let false teaching diminish your reward, or the reward of those who have made spiritual investments in your life!

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)

  • Don’t let any person or circumstances snatch away your crown(s) away from you, by pressuring you to back away from your obedience to Christ!
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