Peter encouraged Christians to find joy by focusing not on the trial that will go on only “a little while” but on their heavenly inheritance that will never perish. As missionary martyr Jim Elliot put it, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Why work for what has no lasting value? Why rejoice over what in the end will not matter?
God tells us, “We have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:4).
In times of suffering, we must remember what is awaiting us in eternity with Christ. Romans 8:18 says, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Second Corinthians 4:17 promises, “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
Though the glory of Christ is precious above all, Christ also promises a derivative glory for his people that we will experience in Heaven. Some say Christ should be our only treasure. The Bible says Christ should be our primary treasure. When God commands us to store up treasures for ourselves, that doesn’t mean we are to store up christs for ourselves (which it would have to mean if he were our only treasure). Christ is not our only treasure, but also the Treasure above and behind all treasures.
Note also that Jesus does not say, “Store up for God treasures in heaven”; he said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20, NIV). This may sound selfish, but it is Christ’s command to us, so we should eagerly obey it. Christ’s promise of eternal rewards for our present stewardship choices gives the believer an incentive to do what the Philippian Christians did in giving to Paul’s missionary work—withdrawing funds from their earthly accounts to deposit them into ventures with eternal value. “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17, NIV). Once again, Paul is speaking about depositing treasures in Heaven by generous Kingdom giving.
Suppose I offer you $1,000 to spend today however you want. Not a bad deal. But suppose I give you a choice—you can either have that $1,000 today, or you can have $10 million if you’ll wait one year—then $10 million more every year thereafter. What will you choose? Only a fool would take the $1,000 today.
A year might seem a long time to wait for the payoff. But after it passes, wouldn’t you be grateful you waited? Likewise, won’t we be far more grateful in Heaven that we chose to forego earthly treasures in order to enjoy forever the treasures we sent ahead?
This is delayed gratification. Soldiers, athletes, and farmers all know that longterm benefits justify short-term sacrifices (2 Timothy 2:3‑6). The same principle applies to those who live in light of eternity. Only when we adopt an eternal perspective will we eagerly follow our Lord’s command to devote our brief lives on Earth to the pursuit of eternal treasure.