*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Matthew 6:19-21 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Matthew 6:19
  • Matthew 6:20
  • Matthew 6:21

Jesus encourages His disciples to invest their treasures wisely where their value won’t be lost. And He tells them that their hearts will follow their treasures.


The parallel account of this teaching is found in Luke 12:33-34. A similar, but not quite parallel, teaching is also found in Luke 12:15-21.

Continuing His instruction on how to seek their best, Jesus warns His disciples not to store up for yourselves treasures on earth (v 19). Treasure can be anything someone highly values. Treasures are precious. They can be money, time, relationships, reputations, accomplishments, etc. The reason He warns against this is because all treasures on earth will one day lose their value. It is an inferior investment strategy to store up (save or invest) anything of considerable value in a place where it is likely to be ruined or lost.

People don’t leave their valuables in the shed or in the yard, but they store them in a safe. People don’t invest their wealth in a company that they are worried will soon file for bankruptcy, but they put it in a stock they believe will go up in value, and give them a bountiful return. People want to store their treasures in things that will both last and increase in value.

But Jesus doesn’t just say that storing up treasures on earth is only likely to end poorly. He guarantees it. Earth is a place where moth and rust will destroy the value of our treasures (v 19). Earth is a place where thieves break in and steal the hopes we have for our treasures (v 19). Our gold, if invested on earth, will rust. Our earthly clothes will be eaten by moths. Our intentions will be redirected and stolen by thieves. This mortal world and all its kingdoms will come to an end. And when it does, all of its treasures will be lost forever. Do not store up your treasures here (v 19).

It is infinitely more prudent, Jesus teaches, to store up for yourselves treasures in heaven (v 20). Heaven is a place where a treasure’s value is never lost. Treasures that are stored up there have neither moth nor rust to ruin them (v 20). There are no thieves in heaven to break in or spoil the value of such treasures (v 20). Heaven is an immortal world and an everlasting kingdom. All of its treasures will forever be cherished and accrue value. Store up your treasures there.

And here is the kicker. It is not only a wise investment to store lasting treasures through obedience to God, and seeking to please Him. It also properly orients your heart. Jesus reveals that a core reason His disciples should store up treasures in heaven is because of this truth: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (v 21).

Our hearts always follow what we treasure. If we store our treasures on earth, we not only lose our treasure, we also fill our heart with the things of a world that will one day be no more. We will be like the believer at Christ’s judgment whose work is burned up and suffers loss (1 Corinthians 3:15). If we store our treasures in heaven, we not only keep our treasure, but we plant our heart in a world that will last forever. We will be like the believer at Christ’s judgment whose work remains and receives reward (1 Corinthians 3:14).

Jesus’s advice begs the question: Where do you want your heart to be? Heaven or Earth? If, after self-evaluation, we determine that our heart is in the wrong place, we can redirect it to a proper place by applying Jesus’ advice, and place our resources into His kingdom. When we invest our treasures in the place where we want our heart to be, then our heart will be there (v 21). For wherever we invest our treasure, there our heart will also be (v 21). This is known as the treasure principle: invest where you want your heart to be.

Biblical Text

19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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