When God Saves It for Later
by Mike McKinniss
Among the best feelings in the world is this: You walk into a friend’s home and, upon greeting you warmly with a boisterous cheer, he informs you he’s been saving a beer (or soda, if you prefer) for you in the fridge. With a smile and a shout, you happily proceed to the kitchen yourself. (After all, with the best of friends you treat their home as your own and vice-versa.) Opening the refrigerator, you indeed find the icy and refreshing beverage awaiting your consumption.
Naturally, you begin clearing everything out of the fridge so that you can curl up inside and enjoy the drink right where it’s been waiting for you in the coolness of the old ice box.
What’s that? You don’t do that?
Unfortunately, this is precisely the attitude many of us carry towards Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 6:20. “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” I cannot say how many times I have been advised by well-meaning believers to do good so that I might build up a bank roll I could enjoy when I rest in heavenly bliss after my body has seen the end of its earthly days.
Forgive me, but the admonition to store up treasures for the afterlife has never sat well with me. What good will those treasures do me then?
It is true: Whatever work we do today in the spirit of Jesus–doing what Jesus himself would do if he were in our place–does in fact get deposited in a kind of heavenly bank. That is precisely Jesus’ idea in the Sermon on the Mount quoted above. Offer a much needed meal to a hungry soul and, somehow, that act of faith and kindness gets credited to your account. Pray for the sick and place another valuable item of faith in your heavenly savings. Proclaim God’s good news that He has indeed, through Christ, regained Kingship over His creation, and find that yet another gold coin has been locked up in the Lord’s vaults for you.
Like your friend, however, who has saved a cold drink for you to enjoy along with him in the living room, God has safely reserved those heavenly valuables not to await our arrival in heaven, but so they can be enjoyed here at a later date.
This is what is commonly known as the law of sowing and reaping. That is, what goes around comes around. Call it karma, I suppose, but on a much grander scale. Those acts of faith that God stows away on our behalf, you see, are reserved not just to be enjoyed by the ones who deposited them, but by many and for many generations.
Take Abraham, for example. The story of Abraham is one of a man who consistently sowed deeds of faith. Having received the promise that his descendants would become a great nation (Gen. 12:2-3), Abraham repeatedly, though not without struggle, acts in faith that the Lord would come through. His faithful actions, of course, culminate in his willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac (Gen. 22), believing, a later interpreter tells us, that God could raise Isaac from the grave even if Abraham killed him (Heb. 11:19). These deeds of faith are stored up in heaven, safe from moth and rust and thieves, for a very long time.
In time, the Lord begins to pay out. Abraham’s family line, after all, reaches its zenith in Jesus, who becomes, according to the promise given to Abraham, a blessing to all nations. Moreover, all who now identify with Christ can claim the privilege of being members of the great nation pledged to Abraham.
Perhaps you’ve been sowing your own good deeds in faith. Perhaps, even, you’ve seen little or no fruit from your efforts. Don’t worry. Your work has not been lost. It’s been stowed away in a safe place. And it will, rest assured, be paid back (probably with interest) to be enjoyed in this world.