Contributors to this passage
For me, I was more disturbed not by the fact that we should store up treasures in Heaven which I think yes its important but my thoughts strayed more towards is the search for wealth worng? I came to think very basically that the pursuit of wealth is wrong... Which means to say, commiting oursleves to the pursuit of material things such as career, money and fancy cars etc... is wrong! But I ask myself, is it true that its wrong? and many other cross references that I came across warned of the love for material possessions such as 1Timothy 6: 9-10 that the pursuit of wealth would ultimately ruin us. Though these verses seem very troubling, something didn't feel quite right until I came across Proverbs 23 which stated " Do not weary Yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it (NASB)." Also Luke 12:21(NLT) showed me another side which said, that we would be foolish to pursue wealth but not have a rich relationship with God... This pointed out to me that maybe God was also saying its ok to search for wealth but do not get bogged down by it or search for it to the detriment of our relationship with him. Which brought to mind in one of the WAG session that , searching for wealth is not in itself wrong but lets not get too concerned with it till it affects our relationship with God!
After looking at this, I once again looked at the passage and thought if I had strayed from it... I think I did! oops... but coming back to the heart of the passage, I think that its true... If our minds and hearts are too set upon earthly gain, then how can we right worship God, which brings to mind a passage... we cannot serve 2 masters... however, I think that for myself I don't know about others, at the pivotal point of my life, where I'm now about to set out to work... I feel that this passage reminds me that career and other things are important but I believe that there must be a balance between the search for material wealth and allocating enough time to God. For lets face the fact, without any money how are we going to survive? So for me, I think that serching for earthly gains is not in itself wrong but its seach must be as I said earlier to the detriment of futhering God's goals for in this day and age, many have fallen into this trap of the pursuit of wealth!
OK... I have been hinting here and there but let me say it out: The issue is "What do you consider as treasure".
It is not so much that material things are wrong, and the pursuit and accumulation of these things will bring ruin. The search for wealth is not at issue here.
What is at issue is whether you regard these things as treasure; which is defined as when your heart and your attention is on these things, your lifestyle is shaped by the pursuit of them, and your values are greatly influenced by them. What is your treasure? You will know by asking yourself, where is your heart?
So, the issue of balance: I think it is misleading, because it gives the impression that one is necessary while the other is what God desires. Don't you think that God wants you to excel in your work, in your studies, in your social life? Don't you think that God wants that you do your best in whatever endeavour that you take up?
We are not called to be "balanced" in our approach to life. We are called to be passionate in whatever we do, because we are passionate about our God.
There is nothing wrong with the house, the car, the bank account, the credit card, etc. These are the fruit of your labour. God does not intend life to be frugal, mean and harsh. He describes the Promised Land as a land flowing with milk and honey.
But God does not intend these things to occupy our hearts as treasure.
And so when we have the right attitude and the right view of heavenly things and earthly things, we will live our lives right. When we don't, no amount of "balancing" will make it right.
As I have said as a comment to Kevin's contribution, the house, the car, the career - these things are important. God himself knows it. (paraphrasing freely the passage on "do not worry...") But however important, they are not treasure.
There may be periods of time when I have to forego worship on Sunday for the sake of my client. I will not necessarily think that it is wrong. I should do my best for my client. There is no glory in telling your client, your interests be damned, I should be in church today. I might make a career decision on the basis of being able to provide better for my family. God says that I should cherish and nourish them. But there may come other times when I forego worship on Sunday because I believe that I will have a better chance of promotion by working extra hard in this way, and with the promotion I will be able to provide better for my family. And you are on a slippery slope towards making earthly things your treasure.
The differences are subtle, but they are telling.
Or when you make 10,000 a month but find things difficult because you owe the bank 1 million for the house, you might need to think things through. You can be having a very "balanced" career and lifestyle, but something is wrong here, right?
And when you have 1 million in the bank but pay your servant the minimum that you can get away with, you need to think things through. Doesn't matter if you are giving 5,000 to the church regularly and worshipping there every Sunday.
What is treasure to you?
Back to career vs church, if I may, as my last point. Perhaps, sometimes, maybe, we lack a passion for the church, a passion for God. I suspect that if we pursue life with passion: career, social development, church and God, we might be able to do far more than we are doing presently. Passion enlarges your life and extends your capacity to take in all that you are passionate about. Balance, I'm afraid, lacks passion and seeks to accommodate our meagre responsibilities within our perceived lack of resources.