Summary: "Having Possessions and Being Possessed" is a message from Matthew 6:19-21. It teaches three lessons: (1) Be careful of where your treasure resides. (2) Be committed to treasure that remains. And (3) Be concerned about what your treasure reveals.
HAVING POSSESSIONS AND BEING POSSESSED
Matthew 6:19-21 marks a transition in THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. In the first half of this chapter, Jesus explains how righteous people practice religion. Verses 1-4 address how righteous people give. Verse 5-15 address how righteous people pray. Verses 16-18 address how righteous people fast. In the later half of this chapter, Jesus moves from warning his disciples about the consequences of hypocrisy to calling his disciples to embrace the values of the kingdom of heaven.
Verses 19-34 make it clear that true righteousness transcends religious activity. To be a citizen of the kingdom is to adopt a countercultural mindset toward material possessions. Righteous people do not, cannot live for the Lord on Sundays and live for money the rest of the week. We show where our devotion rests by seeking the eternal rewards of heaven, rather than the passing riches of this life. This does not mean that Christians must be poor to be righteous. The Lord does not condemn gaining or having or using material possessions. Money is morally neutral. It is our attitude toward money that is either godly or evil. Having material possessions is not a sin. Being materialistic is.
A rich man with a miserable attitude visited the local minister who lived a simple life. They were not together long before the minister got a wonderful idea on how to illustrate to the man that his attitude was wrong. He led him over to his window and said, “Look out the window and tell me what you see.” The said, “I see some men and women and children.” “Fine.” Then minister then led him across the room to a mirror. “Now tell me what you see.” The man frowned and said, “Obviously, I see myself.” “Interesting,” replied the minister. “In the window there is glass, in the mirror there is glass, but the glass of the mirror is covered with a little bit of silver. And no sooner is the silver added than you cease to see others, only yourself.”
If the Lord allows you to see financial prosperity, you are blessed. But if that is called you can see, it’s a curse. We must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and trust that God will take care of our needs. That is what Jesus is teaching here in Matthew 6:19-21. Lay up treasure for yourself. Just make sure you lay it up in the right place. Do not live for material possessions that will not last. Live for what 1 Peter 1:4 calls “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Let me bottom-line this for you. It is not wrong for you to have possessions; it is wrong for your possessions to have you. How can I have possessions without my possessions having me?
I. BE CAREFUL OF WHERE YOUR TREASURES RESIDE.
Verse 19 issues a prohibition: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” In the ancient Near East, one’s wardrobe was considered a part of one’s wealth. In 2 Kings 5:22, Gehazi attempted to swindle Namaan out of two changes of clothes. And In Joshua 7:21, Achan sinned by stealing a beautiful cloak from Jericho. Fine clothes were considered great wealth. But Jesus says do not treasure your clothes, because moth will destroy then. Likewise, precious metals were considered a part of one’s wealth. But Jesus warns not to treasure precious metals, because rust will destroy it. And whatever other valuables you has stashed in your house, don’t treasure them. Thieves will break through the mud walls and steal them.