Is Your Treasure the Bait or the Catch?

Our family went on a guided fishing trip a few years ago. The plan was to motor out into the Gulf of Mexico and fish for cobia, mackerel, sharks and whatever else we could get hooked up on. Our captain did something interesting, that I did not expect. We stopped just offshore, still in sight of the marina, to fish for bait. It only took a few minutes to catch enough live bait to last the rest of the day.
I was reflecting on this, last week, while preparing to preach from Matthew 6:19-20. In that text from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves sneak in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and thieves do not sneak in and steal.” Here, He was telling His disciples then, and His disciples now, not to let their earthly treasures be ends in themselves, but means to greater ends.
On our fishing trip, it would have been silly for us to anchor up in the sound all day and just fish for bait. As fun as that would have been, we would not have been able to come home with much, nor would we have had as much fun. The bait was not the catch but a means to get the catch. The same goes for material wealth.
Fine clothes, precious metals, money, cars, houses, or land were never meant to be the catch. If they were, they would be a small catch indeed. Moths eat the clothes. Even refined metals like silver and gold tarnish over time. The value of money slides away a little more every day. Houses rot. Land gets cut up into smaller and smaller pieces with each passing generation. These worldly possessions are not worth spending your life on.
On the other hand, there is treasure to be caught and stored up. There is treasure that neither rusts nor fades, treasure that cannot be stolen, treasure that you can deposit in heaven. This heavenly treasure is the catch, or to put it another way, there are treasures that are ends in themselves. Jesus encouraged, no required, His followers to trade their material blessings which were temporal for the greater blessings of heaven.
What are some of these treasures that neither rust, fade, or can be stolen? Well, the greatest treasure of heaven is Jesus. If we are able to find Him through what He has done for us, then we have really laid hold of something. Souls won and disciples made for Jesus is another. The people that we disciple are treasures that will be waiting for us in heaven and that we will be able to enjoy for all eternity. Holiness of character is yet another truly timeless treasure, it is something that is not of this world, but is a gift that comes through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Think about it, and you can probably come up with some other heavenly treasures.
The point, again, is that the value of heavenly eternal treasure is infinitely greater than the value of temporal worldly treasures. It only makes sense, that if we can trade in our worldly treasures for heavenly wealth, we would do so. This is God’s way. He blesses us with an abundance of worldly things, so that by trading them, by surrendering them to Him, He might also bless us with the real treasure of all the universe, Jesus.
It is important to understand that this is not optional. You have to choose between the two masters, God or worldly wealth. You cannot serve them both. One will always be the catch, and the other will always be the bait. Mankind has had to make this choice since the beginning of time, and since the Garden of Eden, the struggle has proven impossible. That is why God sent His Son Jesus, so that you would see the treasure that He is and be rescued from the grave error of pursuing worldly wealth. God’s one desire has always been to be the master of men’s souls. Is He yours?