That’s a well-worn cliché, but it still lands a punch. Our possessions and earthly achievements cannot follow us out of this world. The apostle Paul made that point abundantly clear in his first epistle to Timothy: “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).
You don’t have to be a believer to willingly concede Paul’s point—every funeral provides a sobering and self-evident reminder. But our actions and attitudes regularly betray what we all know to be true about material possessions. While we may not verbalize it, our lives usually speak loud enough when it comes to materialism—the belief that what we own has lasting value.
The Futility of Greed
Jesus warned about the emptiness of materialism and the futility of self-aggrandizing accumulation.
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink [and] be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15–21)
John MacArthur reminds us that the last sentence of Christ’s parable (Luke 12:21) applies to everyone who “pursues earthly riches instead of storing up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19–20).”
The location of a person’s treasure reveals the true condition of his or her heart (Luke 12:21). It reveals whether they have love for themselves and their possessions, or love for God; whether they worship material things, or worship God; whether they seek fulfillment in this life, or in the life to come; whether they store up treasure on earth only to lose it forever, or store up treasure in heaven and keep it forever.  John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 11–17 (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013), 135.
Don’t assume that means believers are impervious to the lie of materialism. God’s people need to routinely search their lives to make sure they haven’t succumbed to Satan’s deceptions about earthly riches (and the things they can buy). Test your heart: What goes through your mind when the value of your 401K falls off a cliff, or when someone carelessly dings your new car? How do you respond when your smartphone plunges into the toilet?
God is not interested in fractions of our hearts, or even the majority share. There aren’t acceptable degrees of materialism and greed. As Christ Himself said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). Ultimately, our allegiance lies with God or with the fleeting riches of this world. We cannot have it both ways.
Eternal Investments and Heavenly Guarantees
As a guard against materialism, God’s people need to remember that eternal riches are no consolation prize. Jesus provided an ironclad guarantee on the security of heavenly accounts, and reminded His listeners that no earthly investment is truly safe or secure.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19–21)
So how do we change our investment strategy? How can we begin to amass true riches of lasting value? John MacArthur points out that it will be evident in the way we steward our possessions and abilities: “The antidote to foolish, sinful, materialistic greed is to use what God has given us for His glory and the benefit of others.”  MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 11–17, 135.
Moreover, a joyful willingness to use all that we have for God’s glory is an outward sign of genuine belief in Him. Ultimately, God-honoring actions are the fruit of true faith in Him and His promises. And it’s our faith that gives us access to God’s heavenly riches.
What We Believe Has Lasting Value
Cars break down. Houses crumble. Jewelry fades and tarnishes. None of the possessions this world so desperately craves can last. What does last, what has eternal value, is what you believe.
Your faith, not your paycheck, is the ultimate test of eternal riches. No amount of money can buy your way into heaven. Only through faith in Christ can anyone gain access to vast and eternal blessings of heaven.
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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. . . . I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:1–6)
True eternal riches are only available through belief in Christ. If we take Him at His Word, we can be sure that He is preparing an everlasting place for us to dwell securely in His presence. By contrast, those who put their faith in wealth and possessions are tragically living their best life now—as their doomed philosophy can only usher them into the torment of hell.
The only things of lasting value—the only eternally secure riches—are found in heaven. We must join the apostle Paul and set our hearts on the future our Savior has prepared and secured for us.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ. (Philippians 3:7–9)
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