But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20, NIV)
In general, when teaching about investment, the lesson covers how to select investment assets to achieve higher returns. So, you may question whether this book is talking about wise investment. You may think, Is this book talking about only noble concepts? If you ask like that, the answer is “Never.” This book is talking about investment. It just goes beyond the limited concept of the capital market that is “Investment resource is capital, and investment target is financial or real assets.” Moreover, it is talking about the more precious resources that the capital market does not give but we can have, and also talking about the more real and genuine values we can expect by using those resources. They are different from the investment assets in the world and have no risk of losses. Moreover, they give much greater compensation than the returns offered by the capital market for the resources we invest. It just sounds unholy to use the word investment for the grace given by our Lord. God gives us tremendous rewards for what we have done, to an extent that the world can never give. From this viewpoint, Romans 8:18 says that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon, the wealthiest and wisest king in the world, says how vain it is to live with the lust of the eyes and the greed of accumulating more wealth than necessary. This logic is quite persuasive because it is what Solomon learned through his life, as the king who possessed all the wealth, power, and wisdom. He said a person who loves money can never own enough money, and those who love wealth can never be satisfied with their income because the ends of the unsatisfied mind can never be filled. They are not satisfied with what they have, so they will do more to fill their unsatisfied minds. However, they cannot sleep well because the more possessions they have, the more worried and bothered they are. Driven by greed, they may have troubles in their thoughts and anger in their minds. What is valuable for them if they always feel dissatisfied and never appreciate all things? What benefits are there other than things that are pleasing to their eyes? A life without spiritual satisfaction is like a dry land.
Solomon said the sweet sleep of a worker is better, whether he eats little or much. His life is like a well-watered garden because he is joyful and satisfied with all things and thanks God. There is affluence and spiritual fullness in thanksgiving, so he is always happy like he has everything. However, a greedy man will finally realize that his efforts to gain more during his life is like trying to catch the wind when he goes back to dust with empty hands, as he was born naked. He will look back on his life and regret that he has not realized the real value. Knowing that it is in vain to live this way, the apostle Paul spent his life wisely and left great accomplishments to his descendants. He gave us a great lesson in 1 Timothy 6:6:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Figure 11 shows the two-period timelines. The first section is the blessing in life, and the second is eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. A wise man recognizes eternal life and the existence of the kingdom God has prepared for us, and he does many good works with his own resources. He knows he can accumulate treasures in the kingdom with his own resources. However, those who think this life is all and do not realize eternal life will live foolishly. They only pursue worldly life. Worldly does not mean to possess much wealth. It means to regard money as the most important value of life.
A worldly man relies on his wealth and boasts of it, as written in Psalm 49. He does not know that he cannot extend his life with his wealth. He lives as if he would live forever and never see death, and he thinks his possessions will exist forever and ever. He might be applauded and praised by many people in the world for his success and achievement. He could be respected in his generation or maybe even in the next generation. However, he eventually returns to dust, and only the judgment of Jesus and the eternal lake of fire await at the end of his death without salvation. The happiest time for him would be his life in the world, but he could never see the kingdom of heaven in eternal life after that. Psalm 49:20 expressed about this that a man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
Jesus reminds us in Luke 9:25 that what they chase is meaningless to those who only pursue the greed and lust in the world. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Even if they had the whole world, they cannot be saved or get eternal life. The only thing they can do at the end of their lives is wait for the fearful judgment. In verse 25, the word to notice is forfeit. The Lord has let humans die naturally according to the length of their days that God has set. However, they may forfeit their lives according to God’s judgment. The humans who forfeit their lives will not realize that they will lose their lives and why their lives are forfeited while they are alive. They will stand before God on an unexpected day, the Creator of all things, regardless of his or her belief and will. When their souls stand before God, they will finally realize everything and regret having closed their ears to the gospel and closed their eyes to the evidence during their lives. However, it is too late to turn around then.
In Luke 12:15, Jesus told us to be on our guard against all kinds of greed, because life does not consist of the abundance of our possessions. Here, life could be our current life or eternal life, because God is the Lord who has breathed the life into humans, the ruler who can bring disasters, and also the judge who gives eternal life and the kingdom. Jesus took a parable to teach that it is meaningless to cling to what will be in vain at the end of life.
There was a rich man. His business thrived and earned much profit that year. The profit was higher than in the past, so he realized that it was growing. Then, he was concerned about how to manage and keep the profits in the future—whether to save them in a bank, whether to buy stocks or bonds. It was a happy worry for him to compare and analyze various assets to invest in. He would enjoy and boast about it for the rest of his life without worry if he accumulated fortune steadily. Everything looked good, and he said to himself, “Oh, my soul! I have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry. What can I do to please my life? Let’s look for it.”
Then, God, the organizer of life, saw this and laughed at him and spoke to him. “You fool! This very night, your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Jesus described the person as a fool who pursues his own interests like the parable without doing good. He warned that it applies in the same way to anyone who stores up things for him- or herself but is not rich toward God. The judgment of God toward him or her will come in an unexpected way at an unpredictable time. At the time, analysis and preparation for where to invest or save will become meaningless, as well as what he or she has stored up.
Matthew 6:34–46 teaches the meaning of “rich toward God.” It said that the sheep would be on His right and the goats on His left when Jesus comes back and judges the world. Then, Jesus would say to those who were obedient like His sheep and followed his command, ‘‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. You gave me something to eat when I was hungry. You gave me something to drink when I was thirsty. You invited me in when I was a stranger. You clothed me when I needed clothes. You looked after me when I was sick. You came to visit me when I was in prison.” The people on His right asked Jesus when they did so. Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Jesus considered the poor, the neglected, and the hungry in the world as His brothers. Also, Jesus said that doing good to them is the same as doing good to Jesus. The Lord sees and counts all we do for them.
Jesus would also say to those on His left, who were classified as the goats, “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. You did nothing to me when I was in troubles. Truly I say to you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then you will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Jesus considers it as “not rich toward God” to think about only one’s interests and give nothing to the poor and the neglected in the world. Then, the Lord will transfer the wealth he or she has earned in life to another according to His will. No matter how hard he or she plans for it and tries to keep it, it will be done as God’s will.
Jesus tells us the genuine value in Matthew 6:20: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Jesus commands us to accumulate treasures in heaven by doing richly to God. The wealth of the world can be lost or stolen in many ways. Even if it could be kept for a while, one cannot gain eternal life with what he or she has stored up. Jesus clearly states that there are treasures in heaven. It is difficult to tell exactly what the treasure in heaven is, how much it is worth, and where and how it is used. However, it will be worth more than we expect based on the word of Jesus: “Accumulate treasures in heaven with the wealth of the world.”
Our thoughts and hearts are naturally concentrated on our wealth. If we concentrate on the wealth of the world, we will put it in our hearts and bodies, which are the temple of the Lord. However, if we focus on the treasure in heaven, we will think and study how we can build more treasure in heaven with our resources, and we will seek God for it. Such behaviors will surely please the Lord. This is the genuine value and the way of the wise investment.
Our ancestors of faith realized what was more important in their lives, and they put their hopes in genuine value. David is one of the representative figures. He was a shepherd in his childhood, but he felled Goliath with the help of the Lord. Afterward, he lived on the battlefield. Saul, the king of Israel and his father-in-law, strived to kill him because Saul was jealous of David. He ran away from Saul and fell into a life full of ups and downs. After he suffered many things and his mind became stronger, he finally became the great king of Israel.
David had watched the world throughout his life and realized that people were bustling about and making a fuss over trivial things. Even though they seemed important at the time, they became nothing after a while. David also saw many people making efforts to build wealth. But he noticed that the riches that had been heaped up so hard benefited others or finally belonged to others. Having watched all this, he finally realized that the true value is not in the world but in heaven. He also learned that the lives of those who live only for the world are like a phantom. Thus, he confessed the word of Psalm 39:7: “Lord, for what do I look for? My hope is in You!”