Week 9: Invest in eternity
Throughout His mortal ministry, Jesus taught his disciples a new, higher way to live. I don’t think it was unintentional that Jesus “seeing the multitude went up into the mountain”—as they ascended physically he prepared them for a spiritual ascent as well.
In the second half of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his followers that the heart and intent behind religious observance mattered more than mere obedience. Like Cane who’s sacrifice to the Lord was unacceptable, those who focus only on immediate rewards and their personal glory instead of eternal rewards and God’s glory will find that “they have their reward.”
The word “reward” is used 7 times in Matthew 6, causing us to reflect on the consequences of our actions and the WHY of our service and obedience. Reward is used in the New Testament as another word for payment and can be either good or bad (see Matthew 16: 27). From fasting to prayers, Jesus teaches us that even in our spiritual strivings we can advance our selfish motives for lateral praise and immediate payment or we can transcend our selfish motives and serve out of praise for Heavenly Father with our eyes focused on his glory (Matthew 6: 22).
Elder Renlund said, “Our Heavenly Father’s goal in parenting is not to have His children do what is right; it is to have His children choose to do what is right and ultimately become like Him. If He simply wanted us to be obedient, He would use immediate rewards and punishments to influence our behaviors.” But the truth is in the premortal life, Satan’s plan was to take away that choice and force everyone to be obedient so that everyone would be saved. It almost sounds like a good plan.
But choice was infinitely valuable to our Heavenly Father because with our choices, we show what is in our hearts. And with choice, we can improve what is in our hearts. So Jesus taught us to use our choice to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” because “where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” This is a call for us to invest in the right things—to invest in God’s glory, not our own.