Summary: What do you treasure? Who owns your heart?
Sermon on the Mount - # 9
We are studying the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5,6, and 7 about the values and choices of those who are His followers. Let me remind you that putting these words into practice is an impossibility apart from the life of the Holy Spirit, changing us from the inside out! These words do not just describe a system of ethics. They are about a way of life that results from becoming a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
My message today from Jesus’ sermon to His disciples will probably stir up more questions than it answers! And, that is as I intend. The subject is very personal and each serious follower of Christ needs to make decisions that reflect his own convictions and an obedient response to the Word and the Spirit.
Make no mistake about this, though Jesus addresses the subject of wealth and treasure, He is not just speaking to those we class as being ‘rich!’ The vast majority of those in his original audience were desperately poor, scratching out a living day by day, living in a small one or two room home! If He thought it was important to remind them about treasure, I would reason it is even more important for us to hear His words!
We enjoy a level of wealth envied by most of the world. Owning a late-model automobile, a large screen TV, a computer, a cell phone, and a closet full of clothing are not considered luxuries by most Americans. Very few of us are guided in our spending solely by what we need. This availability of goods and the ability to shape our existence with the wealth available to us has an impact on our spiritual perceptions.
Text: Matthew 6: 19-24
I read this bumper sticker on the back of a big, impressive pick up truck a few years ago...
He who dies with the most toys wins.
It doesn’t take much insight to figure out that person’s philosophy about his possessions, do you? He enjoyed the prestige that his money enabled him to purchase from this world. He was more honest than most of us about his aims and desires. We probably wouldn’t admit to that kind of materialism so openly but it is woven into the fabric of our society.
Believer, let me be direct.
∙ Where is your treasure stored?
∙ What do you value most?
∙ On what are you focusing your best efforts in life?
Those who consider themselves spiritual might now be thinking,
"Pastor, I am a simple person. I just don’t treasure much of anything but the Lord Himself."
If that is true, then you have a pass from listening in to rest of this sermon!
For most of us, collecting treasure is about as common among human beings as breathing.
Little boys collect rocks and bugs.
Little girls collect flowers.
My friend, Anthony, collects very old Bibles and has a beautiful display case to house his collection.
Jake accumulates guitars (which he uses to bless us)! He has an interesting explanation of the difference between collecting and accumulating. Just ask him!
I have seen vast and varied collections; model trains, classic cars, antique furniture, recorded music of various kinds, Elvis memorabilia, etc. Is this wrong? Is this what Jesus is addressing here?
To think so, is to over-simplify his words and, most likely, to miss the point!
As I read Jesus’ words this week, I took note that he did not condemn storing treasure!
A person without a sense of values, without any treasure is a sad person indeed. Jesus said in verse 20, "Store up for yourselves treasures!"
Jesus often commended careful investing and good management.
In Matthew 25, there is a parable about 3 men whose boss gave them various amounts of money to invest on his behalf. He left them to use what he entrusted to them. They knew that a day of accounting would come, sooner or later. And, it did! Two of the employees practiced good management and were commended with these words..... 25:21 `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
The third man in Jesus’ story went to his backyard, dug a hole, and hid the money away unused, uninvested, producing nothing for the boss. He was soundly condemned as a ‘lazy, worthless servant!’
What does this say to me?
God wants us fully engaged with the world of which we a part, using the resources that we have - of all kinds, not just money - to produce a worthy return for Him!
So, I don’t believe we should reject owning things and using resources such as money. Jesus is teaching us we must learn to value different things than the world and that we learn to invest for eternity, not just for tomorrow. The old saying goes, "you can’t take it with you." Jesus rewrites it to read, "You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead!"