Treasure in Heaven

Matthew 6:

19 "Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.

20 But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:

16 He then told them a parable: "The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop,

17 so he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'

18 Then he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

19 And I will say to myself, "You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!" '

20 But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21 So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God."

(NET Bible®)

Do we need a punitive income tax? Jesus made it clear that rich people who use their wealth on themselves are going to be punished in due time.

Most people on the Left would argue that we need government to take care of the poor in the here and now. This requires taking money, and the wealthy have extra money by definition.

But what about in a Christian society? Wouldn’t the rich start investing in the afterlife after their material wants are largely sated? And since the rich tend to be people good at managing money, we might expect a bit more efficiency from wealthy philanthropists than from civil servants.

Then again, if wealthy Christians buy treasure in Heaven by funding fancy Churches, armies of ceremonial priests and the like, then we do need to consider taxes as a tool for taking care of the poor.

So what are “treasures in Heaven?” Let us return to the dialog between Jesus and the young rich man who was loath to part with his fortune:

Mark 10:

21 As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, "You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

In this passage, treasure in Heaven clearly refers to money given to the poor, not priests or building funds. And there are more passages to this effect:

Luke 12:

33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out — a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Luke 14:

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you host a dinner or a banquet, don't invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid.

13 But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

14 Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

According to the scriptures above, treasure in heaven is not obtained by giving to preachers or for building fancy church buildings. It is obtained by giving to the poor.

I invite all of you on the Left who are critical of the Religious Right to learn these verses well and preach them. Just keep in mind that many on the Religious Right are already practicing them. If we can get Christianity focused back on what Jesus said regarding money, then we have a great pool of voluntary money from which the poor can be helped. There would be less need for government mandated welfare. A citizen dividend based on ground rents as described in the previous chapter might suffice.

That said, the burden of proof is on religious conservatives and libertarians. My thesis is that we who desire smaller government need to start competing against government programs first.

Here is an inspirational question to get the ball rolling: do Christians earn treasures in Heaven for the taxes they pay to support the welfare system?