“Lay Up for Yourselves a Treasure in Heaven”

Brant Gardner

Helaman also charges his sons to be righteous for the right reasons. While Helaman does not evoke the same imagery as does Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, the intent is the same. These namesakes are to be righteous for the sake of God, not the sake of man.

Translation: The language in which this verse is couched echoes the language from the Sermon on the Mount. The concept of righteousness for the correct reason is the same, even though the form and specifics are different. Nevertheless, that linked meaning apparently triggered Joseph Smith’s selection of words that would evoke that passage in the New Testament that has the same meaning. The passage in Matthew is structurally different, but note the reference to the treasure in heaven that does not fade in verse 20.

Matthew 6:1-21

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 ¶ Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Hel. 5:9

9  O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.

Helaman has invoked the concept of remembering to link his sons to the great men for whom they were named. Now Helaman creates another spiritual tie to another important spiritual progenitor. Helaman evokes Benjamin. Not only were the specific words of Benjamin important in revealing the atoning Messiah, but it was through Benjamin that the covenant was made that the people would be Christian. By invoking Benjamin, Helaman invokes for his sons a renewal of their personal covenant to similarly be Christians, to have a firm commitment to and identification with, the “good” principles of the gospel that teaches them of the great mission of the Savior.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon