Each of us, regardless of our success or social standing, will stand trembling and naked before the God of the universe. We will no longer have anything we accumulated on earth. Empty and naked, we will stand before the King. All we will have are the rewards that we stored in Heaven based on the things we did for Jesus while we were alive on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). We accumulate heavenly rewards by serving God and others in His name; by sacrificing everything for the sake of building His Kingdom. Building treasure in Heaven requires us to daily put our trust in God for our provision; not in our money, possessions, or achievements. As we do the things He told us to do (see Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27, and Ephesians 5:1-5), we will increase our treasure in Heaven.
Most of us spend our days accumulating treasure of one kind or the other on earth. We like our stuff, and covet that of our neighbors even more. The once popular bumper sticker says it all: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” There is nothing we can take with us. Everything we accumulate on earth gets left behind. All that remains will be what we did for Jesus. Did we love Him? Did we serve Him? Did we live for Him? Not only do these things build treasure in Heaven, ultimately they determine where you will spend eternity.
I don’t ever think about accumulating rewards in Heaven, but I am very focused on living for Jesus with every breath He entrusts to me. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always get it right. Temptation defeats me far more than I am comfortable admitting. I want nothing more than to serve God by serving those that cross my path. If my service to others builds rewards for me in Heaven, to me it is only a tremendous side benefit. The true gift is the privilege of serving God out of my love for Him and my incredible thankfulness for the sacrifice of His Son.
Perhaps someday the rewards in Heaven will mean something to me. I don’t know; what else could I possibly want other than to weep in the presence of Jesus, eternally grateful as I clutch his feet and exhale at last. I do know it is better to have the rewards than not to. Jesus is reward enough for me, but knowing that He commanded us to build rewards in Heaven, that’s what I’ll do.
I don’t think the rewards are the point of the instruction in Matthew 6:19-21 though. I think the point is to instruct us in the way we should live, not for ourselves but for the glory of God. In the end, this is what will matter. I think God’s question will be, “Given the inestimable worth of the sacrifice of My Son, what did you do with Jesus?” If we lived for Him, served Him, and desperately loved Him, our reward will be given to us at last. And that reward is Jesus Himself. That’s a reward worth living and dying for.