Do Not Lay Up Treasures on Earth

This past weekend, the following Scripture came to mind:

“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.” (Matthew 6:19–20)

I thought of this passage while Mally (my wife) and I were taken by friends to visit the “Biltmore House.” What an amazing place! It was built by George W. Vanderbilt back in the 1800’s (opened in 1895). He brought his bride to live there in 1900, but he died in 1914, having lived in the house less than 20 years.

Here are some photos as we walked through the gate:

It is really a castle—the biggest house in America. The house has 250 rooms encompassing 135,000 square feet—a little larger than the average home!

The place is filled with valuable paintings, ornaments, and other collector items. The craftsmanship throughout is impossible to describe—one has to view it. George Vanderbilt took his architect to Europe to visit various castles for ideas etc. You can find out much more information about this fascinating one of a kind place on the web. In the museum about the house we visited, it stated this was George Vanderbilt’s legacy. I’m sure he never envisioned thousands upon thousands of people walking through this place each year, gazing in amazement at the opulence. For the time he lived in the house, it was even more amazing—with an inside swimming pool, central heating, electricity from a generator, a bowling alley, and the list goes on and on.

However, Matthew 6 came to mind as I walked through this castle, which reminded me of one of the palaces Mally and I visited in England. Here is what I pondered:

1. There were places where there was considerable explanations of how many people over years have painstakingly restored furniture, curtains, wall decorations, ornaments, and so on. Over time, in this fallen world, everything decays. In fact, people have to continually work to preserve this massive building and its contents. What a reminder that on this earth, moth and rust will destroy as we read in Matthew. Eventually, all the material items of this world will be gone. We all need to be reminded that only the souls of humans on this earth are eternal—we will all live forever, in heaven or hell.

2. George Vanderbilt only lived in this house for less than 20 years, and then he was taken into eternity. What a reminder that the things of this world are like a flower—here today and gone tomorrow. We get so tied to the material things of this earth that are so, so temporary. How we need to be reminded that God has prepared a special place for those who have put their trust in Him, and this will be our eternal home. This burdened me even more that we are here for so little time—it is nothing compared to eternity. Oh how we need to use our time and material goods wisely for the most important priority in life: that people will know the Lord.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1–3)

Heaven is a kingdom prepared by the Father for his saints—those who have put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Wow, what we can look forward to!

3. When I read in the museum that this house was George Vanderbilt’s “legacy,” I wondered whether he laid up treasures in heaven or only on earth. I, of course, have no idea concerning this man’s heart or where he stood regarding God’s Word and salvation. I didn’t see any evidence in anything I read that he was interested in such matters. Certainly he and his wife were involved in humanitarian matters. They helped people including children in various ways. And we can certainly applaud them for that. But if the house and contents—that continue to decay and one day will be totally gone when this earth is finally renewed—is really the most important legacy of this man, then despite the awe inspiring house, this is infinitely sad.

I certainly don’t begrudge someone living in a beautiful place like this—think about Solomon and all his splendor. But if material things of this earth are really our main focus and we do not ensure we are a new creation in Christ, then while it may be a little bit of “heaven” on earth, it is nothing compared to eternity!

My parents never had much in the way of material goods on this earth. My father left enough for my mother to live out her days when he went to be with the Lord 16 years ago. However, my father and mother have left a legacy on this earth—not of material things but a spiritual legacy, in the children they trained for the Lord. The Answers in Genesis ministry and Creation Museum are really the legacy of parents who stood authoritatively, uncompromisingly, and boldly on God’s Word, and passed that legacy on to their children. Now it is being passed on to their children. And that legacy is being passed on to millions around the world who have been reached by the ministry the Lord raised up to equip Christians to defend the faith and proclaim the gospel powerfully so people will be saved!

Now that’s a legacy worth leaving, as it is a legacy that has eternal value!

A good man leaves an inheritance (legacy) to his children’s children,  (Proverbs 13:22).

Remember, the most important and most valuable inheritance (legacy) you can leave is a spiritual one! Is that what you are doing?

“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.” (Matthew 6:19–20)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken