Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19 )
On the surface this seems to say, “Don’t have anything.” That’s not what he’s saying at all. The message of this text isn’t about whether or not to have possessions. The message is about the priority you place on your possessions.
“Lay up” means “treasure up”
The New Testament was written in Greek and sometimes the meaning doesn’t easily come across in translation. He didn’t actually say, “Do not lay up.” He said, “Don’t treasure up.” The word means the same thing. Treasure comes from the word “to place or store.” That’s where the rendering, “lay up.” It had to do specifically with those things set in a casket or box or safe.
Jesus was using a play on words. The actual statement in the original is “Don’t treasure to your treasure.”
Treasure in this sense would mean to value above everything else.
He isn’t saying that you can’t have the stuff you need to get through life. He’s saying “Don’t treasure it.”
That’s a solid reminder to an obsessive-compulsive civilization. We treasure up nearly everything! I was watching a sports card show the other day. A Honus Wagner baseball card sold for over 1 million dollars. And don’t make fun, because some of us put absurd value on clothes, or shoes, or purses. A Louis Vuitton purse costs $4,800. I wouldn’t have anything to put in it! Men value fishing boats and hunting clubs more than families. Motorcycles can be an obsession. I get on the web forums for motorcycles and guys will talk for hours about what oil to use. It’s funny. But they are dead serious
Dave Barry said, “There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”
Think about this for a minute. What do you treasure? If the alarm went off and some asteroird was going to strike the earth. You have thirty minutes to pack a suitcase. What do you treasure?
Think of what you would take. Think of all that you would have to leave behind. Cars, boats, motorcycles, houses, pets. You can’t take your job. Can’t take computers. Can’t take anything but the clothes on your back and your suitcase.
How you feel about the loss of some of it would really speak volumes about the value you place on it. What do you treasure? Is it possible to even know?