Summary: Value is not found in earthly wealth or treasure, but in the kingdom of heaven. Choose your Master. Clarify your vision. Invest in the kingdom of heaven.
Healthy Disciples: A LIFE OF VALUE—Matthew 6:19-24
Matthew 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. It was not really a sermon, as Matthew tells us, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”
Jesus began his teaching that day with what is known as “The Beatitudes”: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are the meek…”
After the Beatitudes, Jesus taught his disciples about righteousness in the kingdom of heaven. Getting life right is not about keeping rules, but about living in a way that reflects the character of God.
((Note to preacher: I have a series on sermoncentral.com, “Getting Life Right,” which deals with Matthew 5:17-6:18. I also have a detailed series on The Lord’s Prayer.))
In this series of message, we will focus on the last part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has given his disciples a vision of life in the kingdom of heaven, and he has helped them understand principles of right living. Now, Jesus talks to his disciples about being healthy—spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. He talks about possessions, worry, judging, prayer, and implementing his teaching.
Today, we begin with a question:
WHAT BRINGS VALUE TO LIFE?
Nobody wants to waste their life. We all set out to make the most of life, but the world is full of distractions and false promises, and sometimes we find ourselves keeping busy with activities that don’t add value to our lives.
Jesus said to his disciples, (Matthew 6:19-20) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Is it wrong to have a nice house, a nice car, and lots of toys in the garage? Is it wrong to have good seats when you go out, and enjoy the good things of life?
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” We ought to pray about what we buy or accumulate, and use it to the glory of God, but having nice things is not necessarily bad.
Jesus warns us, however, that accumulating great possessions and experiences will not give our lives lasting value. Jesus uses an image of stocking a treasure chest with valuables: money, possessions, status, and security. The value of a life in that picture depends on the accumulated value in the treasure chest. (Note to preacher: The Greek noun and the verb are from the same root, based on the treasure chest idea. See Arndt-Gingrich lexicon.)
Yet Jesus points out that treasures on earth are subject to decay. “Moth and vermin” literally destroy nice clothes and nice houses. Thieves steal possessions, as well as reputations. Securities that are counted on to guarantee security(!) are vulnerable to world events and economic whims. Youthful beauty eventually loses its luster, and fabulous experiences become faded memories.
Jesus told us to “store up treasures in heaven.” He wasn’t talking about sending up gold for future use, or earning a better mansion in the sky. He wasn’t even talking about gaining points with God. He was talking about eternal value: being rich in God’s eyes, and bringing the riches of the kingdom of heaven into our lives today.
In other words, TREASURE the kinds of things that are TREASURED in heaven: God’s glory, human relationships, and the joy of righteous living.
Paul puts it this way, in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “Command those who are rich in this present world…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
A life of value is a life that is rich in God’s eyes, and brings the kingdom rule of God into our world.
HOW CAN WE BUILD A LIFE OF VALUE?
Jesus doesn’t leave us wondering; he gives 3 specific actions we can take.
-CHOOSE YOUR MASTER
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
You may have heard it more literally translated, “You cannot serve both God and Mammon.” Jesus spoke in the Aramaic language, and he used the word “mamona.” Matthew kept the Aramaic word in his Greek text; Mammon is literally property or possessions, and it also came to represent the money that can buy stuff.