WHERE IS YOUR INVESTMENT?

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

“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” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV).

In the text above, Jesus spoke about two places human beings can lay up their treasures – on earth and in heaven. To lay up means to store something for future use, save, or accumulate. One can regard that as a form of investment. In that context, one can invest on earth or in heaven.

On earth, one’s investment can be lost due to unwise investment, unforeseen circumstances such as economic recession or depression, unfavourable government policies, etc.

Generally, there is a risk that is associated with every investment on earth. On the other hand, investing your treasures – your earthly resources – in heaven is risk-free. You are sure of your returns here on earth and much more in the afterlife. No one takes out of this earth whatever he owns or has invested in whatever form. All must be left behind.

No matter the assurances you were given by your financial advisers, you cannot be absolutely certain of high returns. The economic problem faced by nations of the world, from time to time, goes further to underscore what Jesus said that storing up one’s treasures here on earth is prone to devaluation and loss. This is what Matthew 6:19-21, which I cited at the opening of this message, is saying.  It may look for some time that the world economic system is dependable and robust, but soon the bubble will burst. No human system is invincible. The Scripture cannot be broken.

The Scriptures tell us to see the things we have on earth as temporary. The length of time we spend on earth cannot be compared to the time we shall spend in eternity. We should hold lightly unto the things of this world. 1 Corinthians 7:31 says, “Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away” (NLT). We must not put our trust in the financial architecture of this world. It fails, and those who put all their investments in it are badly wounded, and sometimes destroyed.

Therefore, in order to save us from being victims of the world system, Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20 NKJV). If anyone is laying up his treasure here on earth, it is most likely that the person will lose his soul and will spend his eternity with the devil, and not with God. Why? Because he won’t be preparing for eternity. His concern will be how to make maximum returns on his investment. He will neither think of death nor want to hear that Jesus will soon come! If he comes soon, what becomes of all his investment? As Jesus said, wherever one’s treasures are here, that is where one’s heart will be.

The story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-30 underscores this truth that one cannot gain eternal life when one’s heart is on earthly investment. The man had approached Jesus to find out what good deed he must do to have eternal life – although the question was wrong because there is no good deed anyone can do to have eternal life. By grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved according to God’s mercy, not by works of righteousness, which we have done (Titus 3:5). We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

Nevertheless, the desire of this young ruler is commendable. Jesus didn’t fault his question. He simply asked him to go and keep the commandments. He told Jesus he had kept the commandments from his youth and asked Jesus what else he lacked. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’” (Matthew 19:21-24 NKJV). Did you see that? Think about it.

The man went away sorrowful, rejecting the terms of gaining eternal life just because he had great possessions. But the truth is that he was possessed by his possessions, not the other way round. You are possessed by whatever you own but can’t give away. You must free your heart from your investment on this earth. Anyone who is entangled in the things of this earth will not make heaven.

However, if you are heavenly-minded, as Jesus told us to do, you will know that you will not be on this earth as it is at present forever. Therefore, you will use your resources to advance the Kingdom of God and for the benefit of humanity. You won’t keep storing your riches on earth as if you won’t die.

Our heart must long for eternal life, and this will enable us to put our resources in the things of God like evangelism, Kingdom projects, etc. When you put your money, time, etc. where your heart is, your heart will always be where your resources are.

Unrighteous mammon will always fail. There is no business on earth that is immune to uncertainties. So don’t delude yourself by driving yourself crazy trying to amass so much in order to achieve the financial security that is immune from the unpredictable changes of life. Even if you satisfy yourself by what you have invested, that does not assure you of real life. The more you acquire, the more you want, and you don’t enjoy the real life that God plans for you. “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT). Hear what Jesus said in Luke 12:15: “Then he said, ‘Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own’” (NLT). Don’t think you will start really living when you have acquired so much. In fact, the more one has outside of God, the more sorrow one attracts to one’s life. Only the blessing of the LORD makes rich and He adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22).

Rather than becoming acquisitive, the early believers sold their properties and gave the proceeds to the work of God. They were laying their treasures in heaven.  “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45 NKJV).

However, in Acts 5, a couple, Ananias and Sapphira, sold some property and gave only part of the money. They kept the rest to themselves and lied that it was all the proceeds that they gave towards the work of God. The problem was not that they didn’t give all the money; the problem was that they lied that they gave all. If they didn’t have faith to give all as others did, they didn’t have to lie – they could have given what they could give. The worst that Peter and the other leaders could have done was to ask them to keep all to themselves if they couldn’t give all! But they didn’t have to lie. For this, both died one after the other.

Two sides to laying up treasures in heaven

Investing in heaven is not restricted to what you do in the church or for the church. There are two sides to laying up your treasures in heaven. The first is what you give directly to God in church or to God’s causes on earth such as tithes, offerings, special seed towards projects, programmes, etc. It can be in cash or in kind. You can give your money, time, materials, etc.

The other side is what you give to bless others and affect their lives positively without expecting anything back from them – no strings attached. It may be as a result of the lack you have observed in their lives or because you are led to give to them or because of a need in your own life, which you desire God to meet. You can sow seed into the life of a man of God for a particular harvest you desire or to appreciate the grace of God upon his life. You can also give to a needy person or the poor, just as Cornelius, a devout gentile Roman army officer, did habitually and his alms went up for a memorial before God. God took note of his generosity and saw to it that he was saved (Acts 10).

God expects you to invest in heaven in these two ways. Don’t just give in church or to church alone and close your eyes to blessing individuals both in church and in society. Cornelius almsgiving was actually giving to God. “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17 NLT)

Laying up treasures for yourself on earth makes you close your eyes to the need of the church, the need of the Kingdom of God, the need of other people in the church, and the need of the less privileged in the society – widows, orphans, the poor. God is a generous God and expects His children to be generous, not directly towards His work alone but towards fellow humans. “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives” (Psalm 37:21 NKJV).  Verses 25-26 say, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed” (NKJV).

From this last Scripture, it evidently clear that the reason the descendants or children of the righteous will not beg for food is because of the good deeds of their parents – the righteous. They will reap the generosity of their parents because God does not overlook or forget any seed sown – He will repay. Remember that is what Proverbs 19:17 says – He that gives to the poor lends to the LORD and He will repay. God didn’t forget to repay Cornelius; He won’t forget you also if you are an investor in heaven – the best investment anyone can do.

Tabitha

That was the type of investment that Tabitha also made. She lavished her resources on others, including widows. “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did” (Acts 9:36 NKJV). When she died, God heard the passionate cry and desire of widows who had benefitted from her generosity and raised her back to life through the prayer of the apostle Peter. God paid Tabitha back with restoration back to life! The harvest is always more than the seed you sow!

David

David understood very well what it was to lay his treasure in heaven. He donated great wealth and resources to the building of the temple of God despite the fact that God did not permit him to build it. He ensured that Solomon, who would build the temple, did not have any excuse not to start and complete the project. He made substantial materials needed for the project available to him before he died (1 Chronicles 22:14-16).

In addition to all the building materials David prepared as king, David, in his personal capacity, also donated generously all his private treasures of gold and silver and challenged the people to follow his example. “Then King David turned to the entire assembly and said, ‘My son Solomon, whom God has chosen to be the next king of Israel, is still young and inexperienced. The work ahead of him is enormous, for the Temple he will build is not just another building — it is for the LORD God himself! Using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God. Now there is enough gold, silver, bronze, iron, and wood, as well as great quantities of onyx, other precious stones, costly jewels, and all kinds of fine stone and marble. And now because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple.  I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and over 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example? Who is willing to give offerings to the LORD today?’” (1 Chronicles 29:1-5 NLT).

An insincere and unwilling person wouldn’t have given generously towards the project or mobilized others to give; he would have kept his wealth to himself and accumulate so much to will to his children as an inheritance. He would have used the fact that God didn’t permit him to build as an excuse to do nothing. David could have said, “Solomon should look for how to get the materials to build the temple. After all, he is the one to take the credit for it. Why should I bother myself about the materials to build the temple?” But he didn’t. He considered it a privilege to build for God, indirectly, by providing the materials for the project. Do you see giving to God’s work, God’s servants or needy people as a privilege show your love for God and for fellow human beings. Do you see it also as an opportunity to be blessed or you see it as a burden? If you dodged an opportunity to give, you’ve missed an opportunity to be blessed.

Do you have an investment in heaven or all your investment is here on earth? Your answer shows where your heart is.

The Centurion

Although the centurion in Luke 7 wasn’t a Jew, he built a synagogue for the Jews, and because of this, the Jews pleaded with Jesus, on his behalf, to heal his servant. “So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. ‘If anyone deserves your help, he does,’ they said, ‘for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us’” (Luke 7:4-5 NLT).

Jesus obliged them. He went to the centurion’s house to heal the servant. But before Jesus could enter the house, the centurion sent some of his friends to Jesus. “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it’” (verses 7-8 NLT).

Notice the humility of this centurion. Those who went to plead with Jesus, on his behalf, said he deserved to have his servant healed, but he said he wasn’t worthy for Jesus to come to his home or to come and meet Jesus. Jesus was touched by the man’s faith in His ability to speak one word that would heal his servant.

The Bible doesn’t even clearly record that Jesus released any word for the servant’s healing apart from commenting on the centurion’s faith. But knowing Jesus’ characteristic way of handling such a matter, He could have said, “Your faith has healed your servant.” But see what the Bible says after Jesus’ comment on the centurion’s faith: “And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed” (verse 10 NLT).

Suppose this centurion did not build that temple. His servant would have died because no Jew would have pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant. But as in the case of Cornelius who was not a Jew, the treasures that this centurion laid in heaven went up for a memorial before God. What treasure are you laying in heaven that can move God to act in your favour in your most critical hour? Remember God doesn’t forget or overlook any seed sown.  “As it is written: He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:9 NKJV).

Moses

Moses had a correct understanding that any investment here on earth will not last. That was why he rejected the earthly office that he was being groomed for, coupled with the fear of his crime of killing an Egyptian being found out and punished. He fled Egypt. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27 NKJV).

Moses was looking beyond becoming a Pharaoh. He considered that title as nothing. He was looking at something eternal. Many people would have considered him stupid abandoning the affluence of Pharaoh’s palace to become a shepherd, serving his father-law! Many people would have given or done anything to become the next Pharaoh, an office Moses despised to lay his treasure in heaven. Today, we know Moses, but no one remembers the person who reigned as Pharaoh in the place of Moses.

The Magi

The Bible says the magi came from the east in search of Jesus. It wasn’t an easy journey. They were not motivated by any reward, but they took the pain to travel the long distance. They purposely and humbly came to worship Him. When they found Jesus where He was laid, the Bible says that they opened their treasures and offered gifts to Him. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 NKJV).

After doing this, the Bible does not say they requested prayer from Mary, the mother of Jesus. No. “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way” (verse 12 NKJV). We never read about them again. Their mission was fulfilled – to worship Jesus, giving him gifts.

Are you opening your treasure chests to God or you’re hiding them from Him? Are you rich towards God – the needy, God’s causes on earth – or you’re tight-fisted towards Him? Are you like Cornelius, David, the centurion, and Tabitha or you’re like Ananias and Saphira, and the rich young ruler?

I’m not saying that you should not have savings or not invest your money in the future. The Bible is not against this. What the Bible is against is storing up wealth here on earth without being generous towards God or other humans. Such people are selfish and think that they will live forever to enjoy their wealth like that rich man in Luke 12:16-21. This man had an unexpected bountiful harvest from his fertile farm but was selfish.  He died the same night he announced his selfish plan of how to enjoy it. Hear what God says in verse 21: “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (NLT). The New King James Version renders “not have a rich relationship with God” as “not rich toward God.”

I’m not saying you should empty your purse and give it to the pastor or to the church towards her building project or any project for that matter. I’m not saying you should take from your business the principal and profit and give it to the poor. No. God knows that you have legitimate personal responsibilities – your children, family, etc. God gives us both seed and bread. Eat your bread and sow your seed. Don’t sow your bread; don’t eat your seed either.

What I’m saying is that there is a portion from God’s provision to you that you are free to eat, and don’t feel condemned or allow anyone to condemn you as you responsibly eat it. But there is also the portion that God expects you to give to honour Him and support His work and support others also – His servants, the needy, and other people. This you must give – don’t shy away from this because of your need. Your seed is the solution to your need. “ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NKJV).

Conclusion: Those who store up their treasures on earth expose themselves to the diverse risks associated with investment on earth. Don’t trust in your earthly wealth. God can cause a man to lose it. “For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures,

you also shall be taken. and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, his priests and his princes together” (Jeremiah 48:7 NKJV). Captives are neither in control of their lives nor whatever property they have. “‘You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you. But look! I will bring terror upon you,’ says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…”  (Jeremiah 49:4b-5a NLT).

Don’t forget how God took that rich man from the earth that same night because of his selfish plan (Luke 12:16-21). There are several wealthy people who were not generous, but they died and left their wealth behind. They have no say again how it is used.  

If you won’t give your resources to God and use it for the benefit of others but for yourself alone, God can take the resources from you and give to others in your lifetime. That is why there are several ex-millionaires. They are still alive but their wealth is gone – they are only living on past ‘glory’. It is even more painful if these resources are given to their enemies, competitors, or rivals. God has power over you and whatever you have. Jeremiah 15:13 says, “Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder without price, because of all your sins, throughout your territories” (NKJV).  Jeremiah 17:3 says a similar thing.  “O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, and your high places of sin within all your borders” (NKJV). See also what Jeremiah 20:5 says: “Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon” (NKJV).

Don’t lay your treasures in heaven by force; lay it in heaven by love. Don’t close your treasures, open it. Be generous. Don’t be afraid that it will finish. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right,

But it leads to poverty.  The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:24-25 NKJV). Don’t just think of how much money you can make, but ask yourself also how much more you can give into God’s Kingdom, to the needy, to build and help others. Anything you give in obedience to God’s word is not a waste. It’s been said, “Whatever you make happen for somebody, God will make happen for you.” That is a profound statement. Go and do likewise!

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.

T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org