Summary: For many people, their priority in life is material prosperity. When you hear the phrase, 'well off' or, 'well to do', it refers to someone who is wealthy. As we'll see today, those who have stored up treasures in heaven will truly be, 'well off' and 'well-to-do'.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (part 16) Matt. 6:19-24
Suze Orman in her book, “9 Steps to Financial Freedom” writes, "When I was 13, my dad owned his own business—a tiny shack where he sold chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. One day the oil that the chicken was fried in caught fire. In a few minutes the whole place exploded in flames. My dad bolted from the store before the flames could engulf him. Then my mom and I arrived on the scene, and we all stood outside watching the fire burn away my dad’s business.
All of a sudden, my dad realized he had left his money in the metal cash register inside the building, and I watched in disbelief as he ran back into the inferno before anyone could stop him. He tried to open the metal register, but the intense heat had already sealed the drawer shut.
Knowing that every penny he had was locked in front of him about to go up into flames, he picked up the scalding metal box and carried it outside. When he threw the register on the ground, the skin on his arms and chest came with it. He had escaped the fire safely once, untouched. Then he voluntarily risked his life and was severely injured. The money was that important.
That was when I learned that money is obviously more important than life itself. From that point on, earning money—lots of money—not only became what drove me professionally, but also became my emotional priority."
That's pretty sad, isn't it? But many people live that way; their priority in life is material prosperity. There's a phrase used to describe someone who was wealthy, "well off". "He's well off". Another is, "well to do". "They come from a well-to-do family". You might hear these terms describe someone who was materially wealthy but what about those who are spiritually wealthy? As we'll see, Jesus wants us to focus on building up a storehouse of heavenly treasures. When we get to heaven, some are going to be more well off than others. Those who have stored up treasures in heaven will truly be 'well-to-do'.
1) Worldly treasures vs. heavenly ones (19-21).
Matt. 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
To qualify, Jesus isn't saying it's wrong to have material things. Some could take this as Jesus saying we should all be taking a vow of poverty and forsake any accumulation of worldly possessions. He's not saying that. The key word here is treasures. The idea of storing up earthly treasures isn't talking against having a savings; that's wisdom. It's talking about unnecessary hoarding. It's talking about being a selfish miser. We can have a savings, but are we also seeking to be generous with some of what we have?
A treasure can be money or gold or anything valuable. Treasure is also a verb meaning cherish or adore. Therein lies the issue: what do we cherish; what do we idolize? I'm not talking about just being fond of something or taking good care of it or spending time on it. I'm talking about taking it to an extreme and being obsessed about it.
Talk about antiques and collectibles. I'm not saying it's wrong to collect things but at what cost are we doing so? How much time do we spend on our worldly things? If one of our collectibles got broken, lost or stolen would we consider it the end of the world? I'm not saying it shouldn't affect us but we can put way too much emphasis on things; perhaps to the point of neglecting more precious treasures like people or God.
"Where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal". Jesus highlights one of the reasons not to put so much emphasis on accumulating material treasures. Material things break down; they get old and worn out. Eventually you have to put more money into it to keep it looking new.
And then you have the thievery aspect. Thieves target the places where they expect to get a better pay out for the risk they're taking. The more you have the bigger the target you are. And the more worries you have too. You're either worried about keeping what you have or you're worried about someone else getting it or you're consumed with getting more. It's not worth it.
Prov. 23:45, "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. 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." We can wear ourselves out physically or mentally trying to get more; it's a vicious cycle. Here today-gone tomorrow; easy come-easy go.