How do you conclude a study like this, a farewell in which the Apostle Paul gave his personal testimony, charged those he was leaving behind, and prayed for them? I think there is a suggestion of a way to conclude in verse 32, where Paul speaks of “an inheritance” that God has prepared for His people. It reminds us that if we are faithful to our task, as Paul was urging the Ephesian elders to be, there will be laid up for us “treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20).
I suppose that is why, having mentioned an inheritance, Paul went on in an unexpected way to speak about himself again. He had already given his testimony; he had spoken directly to the elders. At first glance it seems strange that Paul should then have begun to talk about himself some more, saying, “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing” (v. 33).
Well, it may be a bit unexpected, but it is not hard to understand how he got there. He had just urged them to deny themselves for the sake of God’s kingdom, concluding, “God [will give you] an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Then, having said that, he reminded them that what he was urging on them he had himself done. He said in effect, “I have not tried to build an earthly fortune. I have not coveted anyone’s gold. I have not been in this religion business to become wealthy. No. The reason I have not done that is I have had my eyes set upon the inheritance laid up for me in heaven.”
What a difference it would make if we would all learn to think like that. I know it is hard. The world bombards us with its values and with a philosophy that says, “You only go around once. Now is the time to make it. If you do not lay up for yourself now, you’ll never have it.”
By contrast, the Word of God says, “You can lay it up now. But when you die, it will be gone forever. On the other hand, if you live for God now, you will have treasure forever.” It is literally true that “you cannot take it with you” into heaven. But if you are obedient to God and try to serve him wholeheartedly now, spiritual treasures will be waiting for you in heaven when you get there. Moreover, compared with those spiritual treasures—the eternal wellbeing of the soul, eternal felicity, basking in and enjoying the favor of God forever—compared with that, the things for which we sell our souls here are worse than trifles. They are nothing. They are literally the refuse of this disintegrating world. Do you want to be spiritually wise? Then learn to lay up treasures in heaven, as Paul did.