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Summary: Our attitude toward possessions and money reflects the spiritual state of our heart.

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Perspectives on Possessions

Matthew 6:19-24

INTRODUCTION

A. Kung San are a foraging people of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa.

1. They were isolated from outside forces for thousands of years.

2. They were a hunting and gathering people who fit into their environment and had plenty of leisure time.

3. Used free time to cultivate fulfilling relationships.

4. Then came a social change.

5. Consumer items from the West (radios, pots, blankets, mirrors, alcohol, tobacco) came to them.

6. Started farming and herding, built better huts, and put fences around huts to keep goats from eating the grass roofs.

7. The number of huts increased and they began to space them farther apart.

8. Neighbors and family members began to grow farther apart physically and emotionally.

9. Doors of huts once faced inward toward their neighbors, but now they faced outward toward the animals.

10. South African army began to recruit them for soldiers.

11. Used their pay to buy more material things.

12. Drunkenness and violence began to characterize them and many were killed in Saturday night brawls.

13. Used to be the most peaceful but now the most violent.

14. They developed a wrong perspective about possessions.

B. Jesus begins to illustrate personal failures that can rob believers of victories.

1. Natural to be thing oriented.

2. Most of what we want is just that-wants not needs.

C. Religious Leaders were no different.

1. Jesus said they could not serve God and money-not serve two masters.

2. “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’”

D. Wealth, health and prestige are not necessarily signs of God’s approval.

1. This is not a proper perspective on possessions.

2. Proverbs, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.” (Proverbs 23:4)

3. John Stott said, “Worldly ambition has a strong fascination for us. The spell of materialism is very hard to break.”

EARTHLY POSSESSIONS ARE TEMPORARY

A. The meaning of laying up treasures.

1. To hoard or stockpile.

2. A picture of wealth that is not being used.

3. Kept this way for the purpose of showing off or to create an environment of laziness.

B. Jesus is not saying that we should live in poverty.

1. Jesus did not specifically require all his followers to give up everything to follow him.

2. Both Testaments recognize the right of people to have things.

3. God wants us to enjoy what he blesses us with.

4. Bible, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (I Timothy 6:17)

C. What does the Bible say?

1. We are to work hard and follow good business principles.

2. We are to save for our children and provide for our families.

3. Nothing wrong with saving for the future, having enough to give to the poor or supporting the Lord’s work.

D. Still we must remember that possessions are temporary.

1. Jesus says they are subject to destruction by moth and rust.

2. Thieves can steal them from us.

3. In ancient times, a person’s wealth was often determined by their clothes and how much grain they had, but this could be destroyed or stolen.

4. Bible, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:5)

E. The example of Job.

1. Had a large family, much livestock and servants.

2. Bible, “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”

3. While his sons and daughters were partying, a messenger came with the news that the Sabeans had stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed his servants.

4. Fire from the sky had burned up his sheep and some more of his servants.

5. Chaldeans had captured his camels and killed more of his servants.

6. Wind had destroyed the house where his sons and daughters were partying and killed them all.

7. Tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)

F. Stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression.

1. Time of economic failure when more than 15 million-1 out of 4, were unemployed.

2. People lost their homes, farms and money.

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