Soon many will begin re-reading the Bible from cover-to-cover throughout the year. This is a practice I heartily commend. But there's another practice that has been immensely beneficial to me as I've read portions of God's word in recent times.
As I read the various commands Christ gave to his disciples during the course of his public ministry on earth, I sometimes meditate on the manner in which he personally kept the command he gave. Keeping this thought in mind can open up the Scriptures in fresh and exciting ways.
For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gives the following command:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:19-21).
Christians are to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. Did Christ, the pioneer of our faith (Heb. 12:2), keep this command? And if so, how did he keep this command?
It seems to me that Christ principally kept this command by laying us up for himself in heaven (Jn. 10:10). We are his treasured possession (Deut. 7:6). He raised us up, where we are seated with him (Col. 3:1; Eph. 2:6). In this way, as in all things, he and the Father have the same purpose and will, namely, to lay up people (i.e., treasures) for themselves in heaven: "... [God's] glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18).
There are a number of ways in which we can keep this command. While Christ procured salvation, the application of salvation to sinners usually involves human agents (Rom. 10:14). So there is a sense in which we, too, can lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven by holding out the Word of life to an unbelieving world (Phil. 2:16).
Wives can lay up for themselves treasures in heaven according to Peter's command in 1 Peter 3:1-2, "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct."
Pastors can lay up for themselves treasures in heaven according to Paul's command to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."
Believers can live such godly lives that unbelievers will be won to the kingdom (1 Pet. 2:12; Matt. 5:16).
Parents can play a role in bringing salvation to their children (Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15).
We can therefore understand Matthew 6:19-21 in a way that keeps us from being overly selfish about our rewards/treasures in heaven. Our treasures in heaven will include God's people, just as Christ's treasure is his bride. But, remarkably, we even have a role to play in "laying up people/treasures in heaven."
I have heard many appeals for why we should evangelize. "People are going to Hell." True enough. "God is not worshipped." True indeed. But we may also say that we have an obligation, as Christ did, to lay up for ourselves treasures (i.e., souls) in heaven, which is a great part of our reward. Heaven will be a family of people who are in every way a treasured possession not only to Christ, but also to us. Do we, in our evangelism, tell people we want to spend eternity with them in heaven?
Christ's whole life was missionary activity. Adam was God's treasured possession. Adam sinned. But Adam remained God's treasured possession. How would God himself lay up Adam in heaven? Through Christ. Christ thus enjoys Adam in heaven because the Father desires to enjoy Adam in heaven. Adam, like each redeemed saint, is a bond of love between the Father and the Son.
We are also told that where our treasure is there our heart will be also (Matt. 6:21). Where is the heart of Christ in heaven? It is towards sinners on earth and the redeemed in heaven because we are his treasure - those whom he personally carries to the Father.
So I'd like to think that when Christ issued this command to his disciples, he knew precisely that he would be laying them up for himself in heaven because his heart was with them.