Summary: How are we as Christians to view money. What do we love more, God or money. Jesus has some direction about where our treasures should be.
Who Do You Love
We have been walking through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount together over the past several weeks. We took a break for Palm Sunday and Easter. We last talked about prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. I want to say a quick word about fasting before we get into today’s text.
Jesus is echoing some of the same things he said about prayer. Jesus is not an opponent of fasting. It was a sacrifice of oneself to God. Jesus was saying again that this practice is good but if you are doing it so that everyone else sees what you are doing; you are doing it for the wrong reasons. This is between you and God. If you are fasting so others see you as holy then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. When you do this with the right heart, God sees and he will reward your worship of him.
That brings us to the text for this week. Does anybody know what the most mentioned topic in the Bible is? Money. Does anybody know how many times it is mentioned? Different sources gave me different answers but anywhere from 800 to over 2300 times. So how important is money to God? Evidently quite important since the second most talked about topic is love and it is mentioned around 300 times.
Money or possessions are a major part of our daily lives. Think about it. Most of us wake up in a bed that we own in a house that we pay for in one way or another. We put on clothes that we have purchase and eat food that we have bought and dishes again that we own. We get in our cars and pay for gas to get to school or work. The focus is to earn money to pay to get through life. God knew that much or our existence would focus around money. This is not necessarily a bad thing but we must recognize that money is a huge part of our lives.
So let’s read what Jesus has to say about it in Matthew 6:19-24.
I want you to know right away that this is not a message asking for money. I know that for many that topic is a big turn-off in churches. This is not intended to be that. I want to cover what God has to say about money. Is it evil? Should we have money? Is wealth okay or should we give away everything we have? I have also realized that I am not going to answer all your questions in one message; in fact you may have more questions than answers when I’m done. Good. Wrestle with them and ask God to clarify them. This is a topic that I need to come back and preach on again in a small series of its own.
I also want to let you know that this is such a hard topic to talk about. There are competing views of wealth on money in our Western society. There are competing views in the church worldwide. You have one side that says we should sell all we have and live in poverty and then way over on the other side you have those who say if you want something nice then all you have to do is give to God (or their church/cause) and he will then give you the desire of your heart. Can capitalism coexist with the church? This is definitely a struggle in our society today.
So what is Jesus getting at as we hear him speaking in the scriptures today? As we begin Jesus is say to not store up treasures on earth. While I think the main focus of this passage today can be put on money I think that we can widen this topic with the word treasures. What are our treasures? Money is definitely one of those. What are our other treasures? Our stuff, our possessions are also very much our treasures.
First you need to understand how wealth was measured in bible times. One of the measures of wealth was clothing. In the Old Testament, 2 Kings 5 Naaman is healed of leprosy. He tries give Elisha a gift for healing him but Elisha refuses. His servant Gehazi however runs after Naaman to collect on it. Naaman give him two talents of silver and two sets of clothing. So clothing would have been lumped into the “treasures” on earth. Being made of cotton they could literally be eaten by moths. So if you had all kinds of clothing that you were not wearing but you were storing, moths could get in there and eat holes into all of them and then what are you left with, nothing.
Rust too was a common problem with many of the possessions of many in bible times. We would also read many times that people would bury their treasures in the ground or hide them in a wall so thieves would come and dig up yards or break down walls in search of hidden possessions. Again, if these things were taken what would you be left with, nothing.