on Matthew 6 :19
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth - What blindness is it for a man to lay up that as a treasure which must necessarily perish! A heart designed for God and eternity is terribly degraded by being fixed on those things which are subject to corruption. "But may we not lay up treasure innocently?" Yes.
1st. If you can do it without setting your heart on it, which is almost impossible: and
2dly. If there be neither widows nor orphans, destitute nor distressed persons in the place where you live.
"But there is a portion which belongs to my children; shall I distribute that among the poor?" If it belongs to your children, it is not yours, and therefore you have no right to dispose of it. "But I have a certain sum in stock, etc.; shall I take that and divide it among the poor?" By no means; for, by doing so, you would put it out of your power to do good after the present division: keep your principal, and devote, if you possibly can spare it, the product to the poor; and thus you shall have the continual ability to do good. In the mean time take care not to shut up your bowels of compassion against a brother in distress; if you do, the love of God cannot dwell in you.
Rust - Or canker, βρωσις, from βρωσκω, I eat, consume. This word cannot be properly applied to rust, but to any thing that consumes or cankers clothes or metals. There is a saying exactly similar to this in the Institutes of Menu: speaking of the presents made to Brahmins, he says, "It is a gem which neither thieves nor foes take away, and which never perishes." Chapter of Government, Institute 83.
Where thieves do not break through - Διορυσσουσι, literally dig through, i.e. the wall, in order to get into the house. This was not a difficult matter, as the house was generally made of mud and straw, kneaded together like the cobb houses in Cornwall, and other places. See Clarke on Matthew 7:27 (note).
on Matthew 6 :19
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth - Treasures, or wealth, among the ancients, consisted in clothes or changes of raiment, as well as in gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. It meant an abundance of "anything" that was held to be conducive to the ornament or comfort of life. As the Orientals delighted much in display, in splendid equipage, and costly garments, their treasures, in fact, consisted much in beautiful and richly-ornamented articles of apparel. See Genesis 45:22, where Joseph gave to his brethren "changes of raiment;" Joshua 7:21, where Achan coveted and secreted "a goodly Babylonian garment." Compare also Judges 14:12. This fact will account for the use of the word "moth." When we speak of "wealth," we think at once of gold, and silver, and lands, and houses. When a Hebrew or an Orientalist spoke of wealth, he thought first of what would make a "display;" and included, as an essential part, splendid articles of dress. The "moth" is a small insect that finds its way to clothes and garments, and destroys them. The "moth" would destroy their apparel, the "rust" their silver and gold; thus all their treasure would waste away. The word rendered "rust" signifies anything which "eats into," and hence, anything which would consume one's property, and may have a wider signification than mere rust.
And where thieves break through and steal - The houses in the East were not unfrequently made of clay hardened in the sun, or of loose stones, and hence it was comparatively easy, as it was not uncommon, for thieves to "dig through" the wall, and effect an entrance in that way. See the notes at Job 24:16.
on Matthew 6 :19
6:19 Lay not up for yourselves - Our Lord here makes a transition from religious to common actions, and warns us of another snare, the love of money, as inconsistent with purity of intention as the love of praise. Where rust and moth consume - Where all things are perishable and transient. He may likewise have a farther view in these words, even to guard us against making any thing on earth our treasure. For then a thing properly becomes our treasure, when we set our affections upon it. Luke 12:33.