Jesus told us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). He linked this command to the desire of our hearts: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21; see also verses 10–20).
The Bible mentions rewards that await the believer who serves the Lord faithfully in this world (Matthew 10:41). A “great” reward is promised to those who are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Various crowns are mentioned (in 2 Timothy 4:8, e.g.). Jesus says that He will bring rewards with Him when He returns (Revelation 22:12).
We are to treasure the Lord Jesus most of all. When Jesus is our treasure, we will commit our resources—our money, our time, our talents—to His work in this world. Our motivation for what we do is important (1 Corinthians 10:31). Paul encourages servants that God has an eternal reward for those who are motivated to serve Christ: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23–24).
When we live sacrificially for Jesus’ sake or serve Him by serving the body of Christ, we store up treasure in heaven. Even seemingly small acts of service do not go unnoticed by God. “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).
Some with more visible gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12) such as teaching, singing, or playing a musical instrument might be tempted to use their gift for their own glory. Those who use their talents or spiritual gifts coveting the praise of men rather than seeking God’s glory receive their “payment” in full here and now. The applause of men was the extent of the Pharisees’ reward (Matthew 6:16). Why should we work for worldly plaudits, however, when we can have so much more in heaven?
The Lord will be faithful to reward us for the service we give Him (Hebrews 6:10). Our ministries may differ, but the Lord we serve is the same. “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8).
The rich young man loved his money more than God in Matthew 19:16–30, a fact that Jesus incisively pointed out. The issue wasn’t that the young man was rich but that he “treasured” his riches and did not “treasure” what he could have in Christ. Jesus told the man to sell his possessions and give to the poor, “and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (verse 21). The young man left Jesus sad, because he was very rich. He chose this world’s treasure and so did not lay up treasure in heaven. He was unwilling to make Jesus his treasure. The young man was very religious, but Jesus exposed his heart of greed.
We are warned not to lose our full reward by following after false teachers (2 John 1:8). This is why it is so important to be in God’s Word daily (2 Timothy 2:15). That way we can recognize false teaching when we hear it.
The treasures that await the child of God will far outweigh any trouble, inconvenience, or persecution we may face (Romans 8:18). We can serve the Lord wholeheartedly, knowing that God is the One keeping score, and His reward will be abundantly gracious. “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).