What does Matthew 6:19 mean?
ESV: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
NIV: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
NASB: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
CSB: "Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
NLT: Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
KJV: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
NKJV: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
Verse Commentary:
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2) continues here. Jesus is emphasizing what it means to lead a righteous life on earth. Those hearing Him for the first time may have been surprised how different His message sounded, compared to Israel's religious leaders. Most religious leaders in that era focused entirely on words and actions—on outward behaviors. Jesus has been teaching that what God cares about most, and what ultimately determines righteousness, are the motivations of a sincere heart. What we do and why we do it both factor into God's approval (Matthew 6:1–2; 5–6; 16–17).

Now Jesus turns to focus on money and possessions. He tells His followers not to stockpile material goods in this life. He will soon clarify why this is such a dangerous practice (Matthew 6:24). He begins here by saying that money and possessions are not dependable. They are easily lost. Clothing and other fabric can be eaten by moths. Metal objects rust. Thieves skillfully identify the wealthy and break into homes to steal their goods. Disaster and chaos can take every material possession we have in an instant.

In short, material possessions are temporary. Jesus points out that no one can possibly build up enough wealth to guarantee—without any risk—that they'll have their needs met forever. More importantly as a common English expression goes, "you can't take it with you" (Luke 12:19–20).

As with prior teachings, Jesus' meaning here is about the hearts and motivations of God's people. This does not mean Christians should never have any money, or own property, or that they cannot have a bank account. Paul will teach clearly that believers must provide for their families (1 Timothy 5:8) and wisdom demands some planning for even our temporary future on earth (Proverbs 6:6–8). Wealth is like any other blessing from God (1 Timothy 4:4) and can be used according to His purposes.

What is dangerous is becoming dependent on worldly wealth—crossing the line into greed or materialism. Those heart questions are the issues Jesus will challenge in the following verses.
Verse Context:
Matthew 6:19–24 contains Jesus' perspective on money and its place in the hearts of God's people. This flows directly from His teaching that inner thoughts and motivations are part of righteousness. God, and His will, are what matter, not the opinions of other people. Here, Jesus tells the crowds not to stockpile temporary treasure on earth. Rather, they should be working towards godly goals—''storing up'' rewards in heaven with choices driven by sincere devotion to God. Where we place our treasure indicates the real priority of our hearts. Those who live for worldly wealth live in inner darkness. Only one thing can be truly primary in a person's life. Each person must choose whether to serve God, or their own selfish interests.
Chapter Summary:
The Sermon on the Mount continues in chapter 6, which is entirely composed of the words of Christ. Jesus teaches that God rewards deeds motivated by sincere devotion to Him, not by approval from other people. He teaches a simple and authentic model prayer. Christ warns against stockpiling money and possessions on earth. Instead, believers should make choices that store up treasure in heaven. A person's top priority can either be God, or money, but cannot be both. Along with that, Jesus says believers should fight against anxiety about daily needs. The heavenly Father knows what we need. All we need to do is pursue His kingdom and righteousness; He will take care of our needs, one day at a time.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 5 began Matthew's telling of the Sermon on the Mount. In that passage, Jesus pointed out that thoughts and attitudes are part of righteousness, just as much as actions. In Chapter 6, He explains how good deeds are only righteous when done out of sincere devotion to God, rather than for other people's approval. He also provides a model for prayer. Jesus explains how excessive worry, such as over money, interferes with faith in God. Knowing that God loves us should lead believers to trust Him, not to be anxious. Chapter 6 is one of the few chapters of the New Testament entirely composed of the words of Christ. In chapter 7 Jesus will introduce additional themes such as appropriate judgment, trust in God, and treatment of others.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 7/15/2024 12:42:46 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.