“Emmanuel’s Priorities Part 1” – Matthew 6:19-24

March 1st, 2015

Matthew 6:19-24 (see also: Luke 16:1-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-19)

“Emmanuel’s Priorities Pt 1”

 

Service Orientation: You will always put your money where your heart is, not necessarily where your mouth is.   Why do we find it so hard to invest in the Kingdom of God?  What does that tell us about our hearts?

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matthew 6:21

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 19) 1st century garments have some cultural similarities as 21st century cars (status, wealth, class).
  • In the east, part of a man’s wealth often consisted in fine and elaborate clothes. When Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, wished to make some forbidden profit out of Naaman, after his master had cured him, he asked him for a talent of silver and two festal garments (2 Kgs 5:22).  One of the things which tempted Achan to sin was a beautiful mantle from Shinar (Josh 7:21).  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 239)
  • (v. 19) The word translated rust is brōsis. It literally means an eating away, but it is nowhere else used to mean rust.  Most likely the picture is this.  In the east many a man’s wealth consisted in the corn and the grain that he had stored away in his great barns.  But into that corn and grain there could come the worms and the rats and the mice, until the store was polluted and destroyed.  In all probability the reference is to the way in which rats, and mice, and worms, and other vermin, could get into a granary and eat away the grain.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 239)
  • (v. 19) The word which is used for to dig through–the RSV has break in–is diorussein. In Palestine the walls of many of the houses were made of nothing stronger than baked clay; and burglars did effect an entry by literally digging through the wall.  The reference here is to the man who has hoarded up in his house a little store of gold, only to find, when he comes home one day, that the burglars have dug through his flimsy walls and that his treasure is gone.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 239)
  • (v. 23) Ponēros (bad) usually means evil, as it is translated here in the KJV. In the Septuagint (Greek OT) it is often used in translating the Hebrew expression “evil eye,” a Jewish colloquialism that means grudging, or stingy (see Dt 15:9, “hostile;” Prv 23:6, “selfish”).  “A man with an evil eye,” for example, is one who “hastens after wealth” (Prv 28:22).

The eye that is bad is the heart that is selfishly indulgent.  The person who is materialistic and greedy is spiritually blind.  Because he has no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not.  What is thought to be light is therefore really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is the darkness!  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 414)

  • (v. 24)“Mammon” is a Chaldean word for the money-god. It is a word which speaks of the systems of materialism which are so very dominant in human experience.  The disciple is to give undivided loyalty to the Master; mammon is to take a very inferior place.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 92)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What is Jesus trying to teach us about investing?

 

Answer: Jesus tells us we can learn a whole lot about a person by how and in what one invests their treasures.  You can learn about one’s future perspective, where their faith lies, their heart priorities, their pre-suppositions, and you can learn about who or what controls their lives.

 

In his newspaper column called “Market report”, Bill Barnhart once explained the difference between investors and traders in the stock market.

“A trader in a stock, “ writes Barnhart, “is making decisions minute-by-minute in the hope of shaving off profits measured in fractions of dollars…. An investor, on the other hand, typically buys or sells a stock based on views about the company and the economy at large.”

In other words, traders are wheeler dealers.   They pursue short-term profits.  Traders may have no confidence whatsoever in the companies in which they buy stock but they buy, smelling an immediate payoff.

By contrast, investors are in it for the long haul.   They “chain themselves to the mast”.  Investors commit their money to a stock, believing that over a period of years and even decades the stock will pay strong dividends and steadily grow in value.  Investors aren’t flustered by the typical ups and downs of the market because they believe in the quality of the company, its leaders and its product.

 

Jesus is not against investment.  He is against bad investment—namely, setting your heart on the comforts and securities that money can afford in this world.  Money is to be invested for eternal yields in heaven—“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven!” (John Piper; Desiring God, 165)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Invest

 

It’s interesting that Jesus talked more about money than he did about heaven, hell, and prayer combined.  Was it because he was fixated on it?  No, but he knew we would be.  He knew there is a certain allure to wealth and possessions, a vicious grip that human beings find hard to shake.  I think Jesus also understood that the issue of money is especially problematic because the worship of money is tricky to identify.  (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 92-93)

 

What is Jesus trying to teach us about investing?

I-  You can learn about your future perspective.   (Mt 6:19-20; see also: Prov 19:17; 22:9; Mt 19:21; Mk 9:41; 1 Tim 6:6-19)

 

From the Lord’s point of view, the accumulation of wealth was a very precarious pursuit due to natural laws of deterioration and the fact that we live in a fallen world.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 206)

 

There is nothing more valuable than our obedience, and the value of it is eternal.  The market in heaven is never a bear market.  There are no recessions.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 179)

 

There is nothing in heaven that can rob you of your investment.

 

Our Lord’s injunction means avoiding anything that centers on this world only.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 354)

 

Our material possessions are “unrighteous” in the sense of not having any spiritual value in themselves.  But if we invest them in the welfare of human souls, the people who are saved or otherwise blessed because of them will someday greet us in heaven with thanksgiving.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 413)

 

The idea of reward is emphatically and often inculcated in Scripture, however much a mistaken jealousy for “the doctrines of Grace” may be chary of it.  We need only recall such words as “They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy”; or, “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation’; or, “Thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”  If people would only think of heaven less carnally, and would regard it as the perfection of holiness, there would be no difficulty in the notion of reward.  Men get there what they have made themselves fit for here.  “Their works do follow them.”  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 30)

 

How do we store up treasures in heaven?  Some commentators believe that Jesus was referring to good works, which may strike you as somewhat offensive–we know that justification is by faith alone and not by works.  Justification is indeed by faith alone, but our reward in heaven will be according to our works.  There are at least 25 places in the NT that show that the distribution of heavenly rewards will be based upon our good works.  Our good works are never good enough to get us to heaven or to merit reward; these rewards are of grace.  This is what Augustine called God’s crowning His own gifts.  At the same time, we are called repeatedly in Scripture to bring forth the fruits of righteousness and obedience.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 179)

 

II-  You can learn about where your faith lies.  (Mt 6:19-20; see also: Mt 5:12, 46; 6:1-2, 4-6, 16, 18; 19:29; Lk 6:23, 35; 16:1-9; 2 Cor 9:6-7; 1 Tim 6:6-19; Heb 11:6; 1 Pt 1:3-9)

 

When, at the time of a General or local Election, we are called on to make a choice of candidates, do we find ourselves believing that one political point of view is altogether right and the other altogether wrong?  If we do, I suggest we are somehow or another laying up for ourselves treasures on earth.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 359)

 

If everything a person values is on earth, then his values will also be earthly.  But when one’s goals are set on the eternal will of God, his values reflect the same.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 91)

 

It is folly to make that our treasure which we may so easily be robbed of.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 79)

 

Laying or storing up treasures in heaven includes, but is not limited to, tithing our money.  It is also accomplished through bringing others to Christ and all acts of obedience to God.  That “treasure” is the eternal value of whatever we accomplish on earth.  Acts of obedience to God, laid up in heaven, are not susceptible to decay, destruction, or theft.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 120)

 

In the Orient, wealth was preserved in garments, grain, gold and precious stones, and Jesus pointed up the impermanence and vulnerability of such treasure.  Moths eat garments, rats and mice eat grain, and thieves steal gold.  Treasure on earth is always precarious.  Wealth invested in souls and the work of the Kingdom is imperishable.  Let us beware of the subtle peril of covetousness which corrodes the soul.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 39)

 

In a word to “lay up treasure on earth” does not mean being provident (making sensible provision for the future) but being covetous (like misers who hoard and materialists who always want more).  (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 155)

 

Only what God protects is safe.  All else perishes with the using or the hoarding.  Paul knew this secret.  He said, “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

Blessed Treasure.  Blessed Keeper.  Blessed Day.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 118)

 

Covetous men cannot be prevented from breathing in their hearts a wish for heaven:  but Christ lays down an opposite principle, that, wherever men imagine the greatest happiness to be, there they are surrounded and confined.  Hence it follows, that they who desire to be happy in the world renounce heaven.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 333)

 

We have all a natural desire to pursue happiness; and the consequence is, that false imaginations carry us away in every direction.  But if we were honestly and firmly convinced that our happiness is in heaven, it would be easy for us to trample upon the world, to despise earthly blessings, (by the deceitful attractions of which the greater part of men are fascinated,) and to rise towards heaven.  For this reason Paul, with the view of exciting believers to look upwards, and of exhorting them to meditate on the heavenly life, (Col 3:1), presents to them Christ, in whom alone they ought to seek perfect happiness; thus declaring, that to allow their souls to grovel on the earth would be inconsistent and unworthy of those whose treasure is in heaven.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 334)

 

Garments were considered a part of one’s wealth in the Middle East.  That is why Achan found a beautiful Babylonian garment so tempting and sinned against the Lord, resulting in his destruction (Josh 7:21-26).  Jesus reminded his hearers that all garments will succumb to the moth, no matter how fine they are.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 206)

 

He said to His disciples after His encounter with the rich young ruler, “How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God.”  It is this trusting in riches, it is this fatal self-confidence, that makes it impossible for you to be poor in spirit.  Or again, as He put it to the people one afternoon when He said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.”  That is the kind of thing He meant by “laying up treasures in heaven.”  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 356)

 

Our Lord is dealing here with people who get their main, or even total, satisfaction in this life from things that belong to this world only.  What He is warning against here, in other words, is that a man should confine his ambition, his interests and his hopes to this life.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 353-4)

 

This is a large part of what the apostle Paul calls “sowing to the spirit.”  And, when we do such sowing, “of the spirit we reap what is everlasting.”  So “let us not lose heart in doing good,” he continues, “for when the time is right we shall reap, if we don’t quit.  Therefore as we have opportunities let us do good to all men, and most of all to the family of faith” (Gal 6:8-10).  This is, precisely, how we deposit treasures in heaven on a daily, hourly basis.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 206)

 

There is a clear continuity of thought between the idea of a secret, heavenly reward in vv. 1-6, 16-18 and the subject of treasure in heaven which opens this section of the discourse with its focus on the disciple’s attitude to material security.  The theme of a heavenly reward for those who are disadvantaged on earth also recalls 5:3-12.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 257)

 

The following questions may well be asked, however, “But if it is wrong to gather treasures on earth, does this mean, then, that making provision for future physical needs is always and absolutely wrong?”  “Must all trade, commerce, and industry, carried on for the purpose, at least in part, of making a profit, be condemned?”  “Are all rich people to be considered reprobates?”  To all three questions the answer is, “No.”  God did not condemn Joseph for advising Pharaoh to store up grain for future use (Gn 41:33-36).  Nor were Solomon and Agur wrong in pointing to the ant as an example of the common sense revealed in providing during the summer for the needs of the winter (Prv 6:6; 30:25).  Nor did Paul make a mistake when he wrote 2 Cor 12:14b and 1 Tm 5:8.  Business and banking are encouraged, by implication, in Christ’s parables (Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:11-23).  The rich man Abraham (Gn 13:2) was a friend of God (Isa 41:8; 2 Chr 20:7; Ja 2:23).  Rich Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2) was accounted worthy to be called “a son of Abraham” (Lk 19:9); and wealthy Joseph of Arimathea was a follower of the Lord (Mt 27:57).

Nevertheless, the accumulation of wealth is fraught with spiritual danger (Mt 19:24; Lk 12:16-21; 1 Tm 6:10).  To be sure, money can be a great blessing, if it is not an end in itself but a means to an end, namely, a. to prevent one’s own family from becoming a burden to others (1 Tm 5:8), b. to help those who are in need (Prv 14:21; 19:17; Acts 4:36, 37; 11:27-30; 24:17; Rom 15:25; 2 Cor 8:4, 9; Gal 2:10; 6:10; Eph 4:28), and c. to encourage the work of the gospel both at home and abroad (Mk 15:41; Lk 8:2, 3; Acts 16:15, 40; 1 Cor 9:9; Phil 4:15-17; 1 Tm 5:17, 18), all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).  However, money can also be a snare (Mk 14:11; Lk 22:5; Acts 8:18, 20).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 345-6)

 

III-  You can learn about your heart priorities.  (Mt 6:21; see also: Prv 4:23; 23:3-9; Mt 10:41-42; Mk 9:41; Lk 16:14-15; 21:34-36; 1 Tm 6:6-19; Ja 1:8)

 

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.  —Augustine.

 

Treasures are things we try to keep because of a value we place upon them.  They may be of no value whatsoever in themselves; nevertheless, we take great pains to protect such things.  Thus we are said to treasure them.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 203)

 

We reveal what our treasures are by what we try to protect, secure, keep.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 204)

 

The reason physical sacrifice often results in spiritual renewal goes back to a principle Jesus taught in the gospel of Matthew. As your treasure goes, so goes your heart. Jesus said it this way: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Your heart and your treasure are linked. If you want to know what you are really committed to, look at your checkbook and credit card statements. There is your heart, plain and simple. There is no clearer reflection of your priorities and values. The way you handle your money is an indicator of where your heart is. (Andy Stanley; Visioneering, 138)

 

Heavenly minded people are so because they have assets there.  If our treasure remains in our wallets or bank accounts, houses, cars or stocks and bonds, then that is exactly where our hearts will be also.  (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 74)

 

It is the central reservoir, the central personality, the indivisible unit of the thinking, willing, feeling, loving person which I call “myself.”  So what Christ says is that where a man’s treasure lies, not merely his affections will twine round it, but his whole self will be, as it were, implicated and intertwisted with it, so as that what befalls it will befall him.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 303)

 

Our treasure focuses our heart.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 206)

 

Both Jesus and the Jewish Rabbis were sure that what is selfishly hoarded is lost, but that what is generously given away brings treasure in heaven.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 241)

 

Where your treasure is, there will your thoughts be also.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 305)

 

Remember that our heart is our will, or our spirit: the center of our being from which our life flows.  It is what gives orientation to everything we do.  A heart rightly directed therefore brings health and wholeness to the entire personality.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 206)

 

When I have any money, I get rid of it as quickly as possible, lest it find a way into my heart.  — John Wesley

 

Blessed are those, then, who hold their earthly possessions in open palms.  Blessed are those who, if everything they own were taken from them, would be, at most, inconvenienced, because their true wealth is elsewhere.  Blessed are those who are totally dependent upon Jesus for their joy.  (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 94)

 

In fact, our checkbooks tell us more about our priorities than does anything else.

That’s why Jesus talked so much about money.  Sixteen of the 38 parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions.  Indeed, Jesus Christ said more about money than about almost any other subject.  The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,350 verses on money and possessions.  (Howard Dayton, Your Money Counts, 8)

 

The key to Jesus’ warning here is yourselves.  When we accumulate possessions simply for our own sakes–whether to hoard or to spend selfishly and extravagantly–those possessions become idols.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 411)

 

When money becomes difficult, the first thing we economize on is our contribution to God’s work.  It is always the first thing to go.  Perhaps we must not say “always,” for that would be unfair; but with so many it is the first thing, and the things we really like are the last to go.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 367)

 

So then there is no exhortation here against accumulating property and wealth.  The world must have property, and the more that property is in good hands the better; and, concerning every man who makes a good use of money, I pray the Lord to send him tenfold more.  The more he has, the more the poor have; the more money the good man has, the more the whole Church has.  It is better that this money should be in the hands of a good treasurer than in the hands of an untrustworthy custodian.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 168)

 

He tells you in so many words that you are no richer than your heart is; though your books be many enough to make a library of, you are only as rich as you are in your thought, feeling, aspiration, desire after God and all things godly.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 169)

 

The Bible contains examples of people who were wealthy but who handled their wealth rightly.  Abraham was a rich man.  So were Job and David.  The problem lies with how we think about money and whether it or the love of God and his glory is our priority.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 104)

 

Everyone has treasures. This is an essential part of what it is to be human.  To have nothing that one treasures is to be in a nonhuman condition, and nothing degrades people more than to scorn or destroy or deprive them of their treasures.  Indeed, merely to pry into what one’s treasures are is a severe intrusion.  Apart from very special considerations, no one has a right even to know what our treasures are.  A main part of intimacy between two persons is precisely mutual knowledge of their treasures.  Treasures are directly connected to our spirit, or will, and thus to our dignity as persons.  It is, for example, very important for parents to respect the “treasure space” of children.  It lies right at the center of the child’s soul, and great harm can be done if it is not respected and even fostered.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 203)

 

When God’s people start to decline spiritually, one of the first places it shows up is in their giving. “For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).      (Warren Wiersbe; Be Determined, 146)

 

Your vision has not truly captured your heart until it captures your wallet.  For this reason, at some point along the way, God is going to call upon you to make a financial sacrifice for the thing he has put in your heart to do.  He knows that when you commit your treasure to the vision, your heart will follow.  When you take those first sacrificial steps to act on your vision, your heart moves with you and attaches itself to the vision.

When we loosen our hands from around our treasure, he loosens the world’s death grip from our hearts.  When you apply your hands to a divinely ordered vision, God begins a reordering of your heart as well.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 138)

 

IV-  You can learn about your pre-suppositions.  (Mt 6:22-23; see also: Prv 3:9-10; 14:23; Mt 16:26-27; 1 Cor 3:8)

 

Let your heart be right, and I care not in what thicket you be tangled, you will see a clear, broad road out of it, and you shall yet rejoin the main path that lies right up towards the light and the heaven that is at the end of it.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 170)

 

So Jesus is saying, “There is nothing like generosity for giving you a clear and undistorted view of life and of people; and there is nothing like the grudging and ungenerous spirit for distorting your view of life and of people.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 246)

 

There is no one so generous as God, and, in the last analysis, there can be no fellowship between two people who guide their lives by diametrically opposite principles.  There can be no fellowship between the God whose heart is afire with love, and the man whose heart is frozen with meanness.

The grudging eye distorts our vision; the generous eye alone sees clearly, for it alone sees as God sees.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 247)

 

The meaning is, we ought not to wonder, if men wallow so disgracefully, like beasts, in the filth of vices, for they have no reason which might restrain the blind and dark lusts of the flesh.  The light is said to be turned into darkness, not only when men permit the wicked lusts of the flesh to overwhelm the judgment of their reason, but also when they give up their minds to wicked thoughts, and thus degenerate into beasts.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 336)

 

You notice how perfectly logical this is.  What we do is the result of what we think; so what is going to determine our lives and the exercise of our wills is what we think, and that in turn is determined by where our treasure is–our heart.  So we can sum it up like this.  These earthly treasures are so powerful that they grip the entire personality.  They grip a man’s heart, his mind and his will; they tend to affect his spirit, his soul and his whole being.  Whatever realm of life we may be looking at, or thinking about, we shall find these things are there.  Everyone is affected by them; they are a terrible danger.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 365)

 

The implication in the present verse is that if our heart, represented by the eye, is generous (clear), our whole spiritual life will be flooded with spiritual understanding, or light.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 414)

 

If you are absorbed with money, you will miss everything else in life that really matters.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 105)

 

In this case Jesus is saying that a generous spirit brings moral health and wholeness, whereas a mean spirit prevents a person from seeing what is really important.  This interpretation follows naturally after the words on laying up treasure in heaven and leads on to the mention of money as a master that cannot be served at the same time as God (v. 24).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 60)

 

In the OT the “eye” denoted the direction of a person’s life.  “Good” eyes focus on God.  They are generous to others and convey the single focus of a true disciple.  They receive and fill the body with God’s light so that it can serve him wholeheartedly.  “Bad” eyes represent materialism, greed, and covetousness.  Those with “bad” eyes may see the light, but they have allowed self-serving desires, interests, and goals to block their vision.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 122)

 

If we have a right view of ourselves in this world as pilgrims, as children of God going to our Father, everything falls into its true perspective.  We shall immediately take a right view of our gifts and our possessions.  We begin to think of ourselves only as stewards who must give an account of them.  We are not the permanent holders of these things.  It matters not whether it is money, or intellect, or ourselves, or our personalities, or whatever gift we may have.  The worldly man thinks he himself owns them all.  But the Christian starts by saying, “I am not the possessor of these things; I merely have them on lease, and they do not really belong to me.  I cannot take my wealth with me, I cannot take my gifts with me.  I am but a custodian of these things.”  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 356-7)

 

It is not only evil doing that dulls the mind and makes us incapable of thinking clearly.  The cares of this world, settling down in life, enjoying our life and our family, any one of these things, our worldly position or our comforts–these are equally as dangerous as surfeiting and drunkenness.  There is no doubt but that much of the so-called wisdom which men claim in this world is nothing, in the last analysis, but this concern about earthly treasures.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 365)

 

This is something which is so subtle that many of us miss it completely at the present time.  Some of us are violent opponents of what we speak of as “atheistic materialism.”  But lest we may feel too happy about ourselves because we are opponents of that, let us realize that the Bible tells us that all materialism is atheistic.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon; it is impossible.  So if a materialistic outlook is really controlling us, we are godless, whatever we may say.  There are many atheists who speak religious language; but our Lord tells us here that even worse than atheistic materialism is a materialism that thinks it is godly–“if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”  The man who thinks he is godly because he talks about God, and says he believes in God, and goes to a place of worship occasionally, but is really living for certain earthly things–how great is that man’s darkness.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 365-6)

 

I believe that “clear” here means “generous,” and “bad” means “ungenerous.”  The Greek word translated “clear” was often used to mean generous in the Greek translation of the OT (for example, Prv 11:25: “A generous man will prosper”).  The word carries the same meaning in the NT.  For example, in Ja 1:5 God is described as one “who gives generously to all.”  The same idea is seen in Rom 12:8, 2 Cor 8:2, 9:11, 13.  Here in our text the specific meaning is “the generous eye.”

Likewise, the phrase “bad” eye or “evil” eye (KJV) regularly refers to an ungenerous spirit.  The rabbis said that an evil eye indicated a grudging, cheap, ungenerous heart.  Prv 28:22 says, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth” (NASB).  Prv 23:6 says, “Do not eat the food of a stingy man” (literally, “a man who has an evil eye”).  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 212-3)

 

The believer who has a generous spirit, who is not tightly grasping the things of this world, maximizes the reception of light (divine truth) in his life.  The Scriptures are open before such a heart, for he is seeking the things above.  Then not only does the eye of such a person receive light, but it radiates light to those around.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 216)

 

Money is non-moral.  There is no inherent evil in it and no inherent good.  The questions of right and wrong have to do with what we do with money.  You put it to low uses or you can put it to good use, bringing eternal reward and riches.  Furthermore, the amount you have is not the determining factor.  A ditch digger may be miserly and covetous, while a wealthy stockbroker may be generous.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 217)

 

Do you see spiritual things clearly?  Or is your vision of God and his will for your life clouded by spiritual cataracts or nearsightedness brought on by an unhealthy preoccupation with things?  I am convinced that this is true for many Christians, particularly those living in the midst of Western affluence.  Now and then people like this complain to me that they cannot understand the Bible, or that God seems far away.  Sometimes they are confused about the Christian life or about God’s will for them.  Well, it is not surprising.  And, what is more, it always will be this way for one who know his way around a supermarket or a brokerage house more than he knows his way around the NT.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 216-7)

 

Don’t try to make permanent that which is transient.  —Steve Brown

 

Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.    —Thomas Sowell

 

So this rather obscure little saying seems to be using a wordplay which the English translator cannot reproduce without extensive paraphrase in order to commend either single-mindedness (in pursuing the values of the kingdom of heaven) or generosity, or more likely both, as a key to the effective life of a disciple.  The final comment then underlines how spiritually disoriented is a life which is not governed by those principles, but rather aims to amass and hold on to “treasure on earth.”  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 262)

 

Dutch frugality:

We suffer from impaired judgment.  Investors are fond of talking about one of the strangest speculative booms in history, a 17th century Dutch frenzy called Tulpenwoerde, or tulipmania.  The whole country hoarded tulips in the belief that their price would rise indefinitely.  At its height, whole family fortunes were squandered on a single bulb; one rare bulb was given as full payment for a successful brewery.

A shoemaker in The Hague was able to grow the rarest of beauties: a black tulip.  He was visited by some growers from Haarlem who bought his treasure for 1,500 florins.  They immediately dropped the flower to the ground and stomped it to pieces; they too possessed a black tulip and were determined to have the only one.  They told him they would have paid any price–up to 10,000 florins for his.  The heartbroken cobbler is said to have died of chagrin.

When the price levels cracked, the entire economic life of Holland crumbled.  Lawsuits were so numerous the courts couldn’t handle them.  The Dutch have never been quite so free with their money ever since.  (John Ortberg, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, 195-6)

 

“What you know about the future completely determines how you process the present”.  — Tim Keller

 

V-  You can learn about who or what controls your lives.  (Mt 6:24; see also: Isa 42:8; 48:1; Lk 16:13; Rom 6:16-22)

 

Our money and possessions are either working for God or against God.

 

No one can serve two masters.  But that is not nearly strong enough.  The word which the RSV translates “serve” is douleuein; doulos is a slave; and douleuein means to be a slave to.  The word that the RSV translates master is kurios, and kurios is the word which denotes absolute ownership.  We get the meaning far better, if we translate it: No man can be a slave to two owners.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 248)

 

Whom do you serve?  That is the question, and it is either God or mammon.  There is nothing in the last analysis that is so insulting to God as to take His name upon us and yet to show clearly that we are serving mammon in some shape or form.  That is the most terrible thing of all.  It is the greatest insult to God; and how easily and unconsciously we can all become guilty of this.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 366)

 

You cannot serve God and money, but you can serve God with money.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 177)

 

The problem of money is summed up by Jesus:  “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money” (Mt 6:24).  The word serve translates “to be a slave to, literally or figuratively, voluntarily or involuntarily.”

It is not a question of advisability, “You should not serve both God and money.”  That would be a priority choice.

It is not a question of accountability, “You must not serve both God and money.”  That would be a moral choice.

Rather, it is a matter of impossibility, “You cannot serve both God and money.”  There is no choice; we each serve one and only one, master.  We are either a slave to God or a slave to money.  Why did Jesus say we cannot serve both? ( Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 164)

 

We cannot but serve our treasures.  We labor all day for them and think about them all night.  They fill our dreams.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 207)

 

Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God.  The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures.  He will be all in all or He will be nothing.  God will not be used.  His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid men in their selfish striving after personal gain.  He will not help men to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in their interest and affection.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 57)

 

If you put any conditions on your service to Christ (“I will serve you if”) then you are not really serving Christ at all but it is yourself you are serving.  —Tim Keller

 

If you obey only when you understand or agree with what is being asked, you are not obeying, you are only agreeing or affirming what is being commanded.  When you really obey, you do what you are told whether you agree or understand.  —Tim Keller

 

Love to God will expel love to the world; love to the world will deaden the soul’s love to God.  “No man can serve two masters”:  it is impossible to love God and the world, to serve him and mammon.  Here is a most fertile cause of declension in Divine love; guard against it as you would fortify yourself against your greatest foe.  It is a vortex that has engulfed millions of souls; multitudes of professing Christians have been drawn into its eddy, and have gone down into its gulf.  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 56)

 

True, it is not impossible that those who are rich shall serve God; but whoever gives himself up as a slave to riches must abandon the service of God:  for covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 337)

 

If we do value “mammon” as normal people seem to think we should, our fate is fixed.  Our fate is anxiety.  It is worry.  It is frustration.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 209)

 

Don’t grasp or base your identity on things you can’t hang on to.

 

The psychological tension that is built up in the soul of a person who imagines for a while that he will be able to love and serve both masters becomes so severe and unendurable that in attitude, word, and deed he will sooner or later begin to show where his real allegiance lies.  Either the one master or the other will win out, actually has been “on top” all the while, though, perhaps, the individual in question was not fully aware of this.  In the crisis the agitated soul, out of love for the one master, will begin to show that he hates the other, perhaps even to the point of being willing to betray him.  Think of Judah Iscariot.  Was it not Mammon that led him to deliver Christ into the hands of the enemy?  See Mt 26:14-16; Jn 12:6.  And on the other hand, think of Paul.  There came a time in the life of this former persecutor when he began to look down on whatever of personal merit, earthly possessions, and prestige he at one time had prized so highly.  Whatever used to be gain had now become loss (Phil 3:7ff.).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 348)

 

For a slave there is no such thing as partial or part-time obligation to his master.  He owes full-time service to a full-time master.  He is owned and totally controlled by and obligated to his master.  He has nothing left for anyone else.  To give anything to anyone else would make his master less than master.  It is not simply difficult, but absolutely impossible, to serve two masters and fully or faithfully be the obedient slave of each.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 414-5)

 

You are a slave to that which you serve, and if your life is consumed by the acquisition of mammon, then you are a slave, and if you are a slave of mammon, you cannot be a servant of God.  The two are absolutely incompatible.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 180)

 

The slave had literally no moment of time which belonged to himself.  Every moment belonged to his owner and was at his owner’s disposal.

Here, then, is our relationship to God.  In regard to God we have no rights of our own; God must be undisputed master of our lives.  We can never ask, “What do I wish to do?”  We must always ask, “What does God wish me to do?”  We have no time which is our own.  We cannot sometimes say, “I will do what God wishes me to do,” and, at other times, say, “I will do what I like.”  The Christian has no time off from being a Christian; there is no time when he can relax his Christian standards, as if he was off duty.  A partial or a spasmodic service of God is not enough.  Being a Christian is a whole-time job.  Nowhere in the Bible is the exclusive service which God demands more clearly set forth.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 248-9)

 

Ask yourself, What is it that I treasure so highly that I am irritated when other people don’t?  Or to put it another way, What are the things I respect so deeply that I tend to be resentful of those who treat them with disrespect? (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 13)

 

In Paradise Lost, Milton personifies Mammon as a fallen spirit who even in heaven admired the golden streets more than the divine and holy.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 60)

 

If we attempt to work for two different masters, we are sure to give satisfaction to neither.  It is just the same with respect to our souls.  We cannot serve Christ and the world at the same time: it is vain to attempt it.  The thing cannot be done:  the ark and Dagon will never stand together (see 1 Sm 5).  God must be king over our hearts: his law, his will, his precepts must receive our first attention; then, and not till then, everything in our inner being will fall into its right place.  Unless our hearts are set in order like this, everything will be in confusion.  “Your whole body will be full of darkness” (v. 23).  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 43)

 

Mammon was a word for material possessions, but it had come into Hebrew from a root word meaning “to entrust,” or “to place in someone’s keeping.”  Mammon therefore meant the wealth that one entrusted to another for safekeeping.  At this time the word did not have any bad connotations at all, and a rabbi could say, “Let the mammon of thy neighbor be as dear to thee as thine own.”  When a bad sense was meant an adjective or some other qualifying word was added.  So we have the phrase “the mammon of unrighteousness” or “unrighteous mammon.”

As time passed, however, the sense of the word mammon shifted away from the passive sense of “that which is entrusted” to the active sense of “that in which a man trusts.”  In this case, of course, the meaning was entirely bad, and the word mammon which was originally spelled with a small “m” came to be spelled with a capital “M” as designating a god.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 216)

 

Can anything be more insulting to God, who has redeemed us from the slavery of sin, put us in Christ, and given us all things richly to enjoy than to take the name of our God upon us, to be called by his name, and then to demonstrate by every action and every decision of life that we actually serve money?  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 217-8)

 

There are only 2 reasons to get into religion:  You can either get into religion to serve God or you can get into religion to get God to serve you and there is really no middle ground.  It is one or the other.  (Tim Keller sermon, “King is Abandoned”)

 

If you have any conditions to your obedience to Jesus then Jesus is not your King and you are not in the Kingdom.  Because the thing that is the basis of your “if” or “when” of your salvation is your salvation and King.  You cannot say “I’ll follow you Jesus if . . . or “I’ll follow you Jesus when . . .” because the thing that is the “if” or “when” is your king and Lord . . . not Jesus. — Tim Keller

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: How can we become wise investors?

A-  Trust God.  Think long-term.  (Ps 49:16-19; Prv 3:5-6; 27:24; Eccl 5:13-17; Isa 51:8; Mat 25:14-46; Lk 16:19-31; Rom 8:38-39; 1 Cor 3:4-15; 2 Cor 4:18; 1 Tm 6:6-19; 1 Pt 1:3-9; 2 Jn 1:8)

 

It is vain to store up treasures which have such time-limited value.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 82)

 

Whatever you are into right now, if it won’t matter 100 years from now, stop it.  It is not worthy of your time or investment or resources. — Steve Brown

 

In the ordinary, everyday management of life it is simple wisdom to get to oneself only those things which will last.  Whether we are buying a suit of clothes, or a motor car, or a carpet for the floor, or a suite of furniture, it is common sense to avoid shoddy goods, and to buy the things which have solidity and permanence and craftsmanship wrought into them.  That is exactly what Jesus is saying here; he is telling us to concentrate on the things which will last.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 238-9)

 

As to what this “reward” is, the Scriptures are basically silent, and that is probably best.  Needless to say, the treasure in Heaven will be substantial and beyond our wildest dreams.  The thing Jesus emphasizes for us is that treasure in Heaven will be eternal.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 208)

 

The secularists of Jesus’ day summed up their philosophy like this:  “Eat, drink, and be merry.  For tomorrow you die.” Contrast that with Jesus’ words:  “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”  Think in terms of eternity.  Think of the long-range implications.  This touches us most directly, not simply in how we handle our bank accounts, but at the level of how we invest our lives.  Life is an investment and the question that modern man has to answer is, “Am I going to invest my life for short-term benefits or for long-term gains?  (R.C. Sproul, Lifeviews, 37)

 

For what worldly-mindedness is greater than that which prostitutes even religious acts to worldly advantage, and is laying up treasure of men’s good opinion on earth even while it shams to be praying to God?  And there is a close connection which the history of every age has illustrated between formal religious profession and the love of money, which is the vice of the Church.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 299)

 

The Christian Way — The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.   A baby feels hunger:  well, there is such a thing as food.   A duckling wants to swim:  well, there is such a thing as water.   Men feel sexual desire:  well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120)

 

Completely different are “the treasures in heaven” (cf. 19:21), that is, those blessings that are reserved for us in heaven (1 Pt 1:4), that are heavenly in character, but of which we experience a foretaste even now.  Beginning, as is proper, with the enumeration of some of these as Jesus himself describes them, one thinks of our standing with God as being fully pardoned (Mt 6:14), answered prayer (7:7), the enrollment of our names in heaven (Lk 10:20), the Father’s love (Jn 16:27), a welcome not only to the “mansions” of heaven but to the Savior’s own heart (Jn 14:2, 3), a full share in Christ’s own peace (Jn 14:27), his own joy (Jn 15:11), and his own victory (Jn 16:33), and the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26).  See also all the spiritual blessings mentioned in the beatitudes (M6 5:1-12).  Paul is thinking of these same treasures, and describes them sometimes in the same, sometimes in his own terms; our “being justified by faith” (Rom 5:1), “answered prayer” (2 Cor 12:8, 9), “the love of God shed abroad in our hearts” (Rom 5:5), “the crown of righteousness” with which the Savior will welcome us (2 Tm 4:8), “the peace of God that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7), “rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:11), “the victory” (1 Cor 15:57), and “his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 2:15; cf. Rom 8:14, 16, 26, 27).  The enumerations are merely illustrative, not exhaustive.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 344-5)

 

Let’s examine two men who lived in Rome and were at different ends of the economic spectrum.  Before gladiator contests in the coliseum, everyone would stand, waiting silently for Caesar.  The contests could not begin until he arrived.  When Caesar arrived, he was greeted with thunderous shouts of “Hail Caesar!”  He had more power, prestige and wealth than anyone else living at that time.  He was worshiped as though he were a god.

Elsewhere in Rome was another man in vastly different circumstances.  He was in prison, chained to guards.  He invested his time praying and writing to his friends.  His name was Paul.

One man lived in an opulent palace.  The other lived in a dingy cell.  One had almost unlimited wealth.  The other had almost nothing.  One was the center of attention.  The other was virtually ignored.  Almost 2,000 years later, people around the world recognize which of these two men made the eternally important contribution.  They name their children after the prisoner and their salads after the emperor!  (Howard Dayton, Your Money Counts, 143)

 

The battle against despondency is a battle to believe the promises of God.  And that belief in God’s future grace come by hearing the Word.   And so preaching to ourselves is at the heart of the battle. (John Piper; Future Grace, 304)

 

Some have said that Christians who consciously sin have lost their focus on the future. These Christians have forgotten that God will reward in heaven only those who have lived faithfully for Him here on earth (1 Cor 9:24). Christians who fail to keep eternity in mind often sin in the here and now.  (J.Kirk Johnston, Why Christians Sin, 31)

 

After wealthy John D. Rockefeller died, his accountant was asked how much he left.  The accountant responded, “He left it all.”  Job said it this way, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job 1:21).  Paul wrote, “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tm 6:7).  (Crown Financial Ministries, Crown Biblical Financial Study, 146)

 

B-  Do not trust the world, your flesh or the Devil.  (Ja 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-16)

 

Seeking security in this world and its possessions is a recipe for producing anxieties, rather than relieving them!  The more we gather possessions in order to feel secure, the more we feel we need them in order to be secure and then the more we need to guard them to maintain our security.  Therefore, the less secure we are!  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 137)

 

If everything that a man values and sets his heart upon is on earth, then he will have no interest in any world beyond this world; if all through his life a man’s eyes are on eternity, then he will evaluate lightly the things of this world.  If everything which a man counts valuable is on this earth, then he will leave this earth reluctantly and grudgingly; if a man’s thoughts have been ever in the world beyond, he will leave this world with gladness, because he goes at last to God.  Once Dr. Johnson was shown through a noble castle and its grounds; when he had seen round it he turned to his companions and said, “These are the things which make it difficult to die.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 242)

 

In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he warned about another kind of treasuring:  “In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom 2:5).  The apostle was saying that every offense we have committed against God will be on the docket when we are brought before His tribunal.  Paul warns us against making new deposits into the wrath being built up against us.  Therefore, we are either storing up treasure or storing up wrath.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 178-9)

 

The only actions Satan really cares about are future actions.  The sins of the past are gone.  He cannot change them.  He can only deepen them, by influencing our future responses to them, or add to them, with more future sins.  All the sins that can be committed are future sins.  If Satan is going to bring us into sinful states of mind and into sinful actions, he will have to use promises.  This is what he did with Adam and Eve.  This is what he does with us.  He holds out alternative promises to the promises of God.  He subverts faith in future grace with promises of God-neglecting pleasure.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 327)

 

C-  Know what you are living for and investing in.  Know what really matters.  (Mt 6:19-34; Lk 12:15-34; Phil 3:7; Col 3:1-5; 1 Tm 6:6-19)

 

A man’s real god is the thing that he counts best, and for which he works most earnestly, and which, as I said, he most longs to have, and trembles to think he will lose.  That is his god, and his treasure, whatever his professions may be.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 304)

 

Another good way of testing ourselves is to ask ourselves quite simply and honestly why we hold our particular views.  What is our real interest?  What is our motive?  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 359)

 

Purpose in Life:  Investing the treasure of time into that which will bring the most lasting results.

 

No matter what it is, or how small it is, if it is everything to you, that is your treasure, that is the thing for which you are living.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 354)

 

Our money, our intellects, our education, our homes, our position, our personalities are to be used in the service of God.  The worldly man thinks he owns them, but the Christian says, “I am not the owner of these things.  I have them on lease–they do not belong to me.  I am a custodian.  I cannot take them with me.  I can only use them for God’s glory.  I must be careful about my attitude toward what I have been given.  I must do what he tells me to do.”  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 210)

 

If you are hoping and trusting in the Lord, and suddenly your health, wealth or future are taken from you and your hope is gone; then, you need to confess that it was not the Lord you were hoping in.  It was what you have just lost.  Hope in the Lord NEVER disappoints.  —Pastor Keith

 

John Wesley wrote:  “Make as much as you can; save as much as you can; give as much as you can.”  (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 162)

 

So, to discuss our treasures is really to discuss our treasurings.  We are not to pass it off as dealing merely with “external goods,” which are “nonspiritual” or just physical stuff.  It is to deal with the fundamental structure of our soul.  It has to do precisely with whether the life we live now in the physical realm is to be an eternal one or not, and the extent to which it will be so.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 204)

 

So the wisdom of Jesus is that we should “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven” (6:20), where forces of nature and human evil cannot harm what we treasure.  That is to say, direct your actions toward making a difference in the realm of spiritual substance sustained and governed by God.  Invest your life in what God is doing, which cannot be lost.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 205)

 

The Scriptures nowhere contain a prohibition of private property.  Nor is saving for rainy days forbidden.  In fact, it is encouraged, as in the parable of the ant in Prv 6:6-8.  We are to provide for our own (1 Tm 5:8).  Moreover, Paul tells us in 1 Tm 4:3, 4 that we are not to despise the good things of life by becoming ascetics, but rather are to enjoy food and the comforts of life.  What Jesus is prohibiting in Matthew’s Gospel is the selfish accumulation of goods.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 206)

 

If anything in this world is everything to you, it is an earthly treasure.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 207)

 

  1. What occupies our thoughts when we have nothing else to do? What occupies our daydreams?  Is it our investments, our position?  If so, those are the things we treasure, and that is where our hearts really are.
  2. Similarly, what is it that we fret about most? Is it our home or perhaps our clothing?  If so, then we know where our treasure lies.
  3. Apart from our loved ones, what or whom do we most dread losing?
  4. What are the things that we measure others by? (This question is a very revealing mirror because we measure other people by that which we treasure.)  Do we measure others by their clothing?  By their education?  By their homes?  By their athletic prowess?  Do we measure others by their success in the business world?  If so, we know where our treasure lies.
  5. Lastly, what is it that we know we cannot be happy without? (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 209)

 

Christians might ask, “Why all the fuss over financial security, given Jesus’ warning here?”  But Jesus was not teaching people to be sloppy and careless about money.  We need solid financial plans to be good stewards of the earthly resources that God has entrusted to us.

Jesus was also saying that money is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  Money ought never to be any Christian’s goal.  Financial plans should not drive our lives.  Believers should focus on God’s purposes, God’s goals, and God’s plan.

Everyone needs money.  Every Christian ought to share money.  Financial planning is a sign of careful management.  But hopes and dreams that rise to heaven are the only ones worth living for.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 121)

 

We are not called upon to relinquish things but rather use them under God’s direction.  We are to use them for the health and well-being of our family, for material aid to others, and for the great task of proclaiming the gospel and promoting Christian verities.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 215)

 

Wealth is to be accumulated strictly for doing works of mercy and spreading the kingdom.  Wealth is not to be stored up “for yourselves (Mt 6:19-21).  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 72)

 

Walls asserts that the center of Christianity is always migrating away from power and wealth.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 125)

 

Each of us will eventually give away all our earthly possessions.  How we choose to do so, however, is a reflection on our commitment to the Kingdom of God.  — Charles F. Stanley

 

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God of the universe Who can take your insignificant contribution to your eternal retirement and turn it into a satisfying and secure nest egg.

 

One way to describe this problem is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable.  They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being wealthy), and as creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose).  But they don’t receive him as supremely and personally valuable for who he is.  They don’t receive him the way Paul did when he spoke of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  They don’t receive him as he really is–more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe.  They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him.  (John Piper, Think, 71-72)

 

. . . loving God is not a mere decision.  You cannot merely decide to love classical music–or country western music–much less God.  The music must become compelling.  Something must change inside of you.  That change makes possible the awakening of a compelling sense of its attractiveness.  So it is with God.  You do not merely decide to love him.  Something changes inside of you, and as a result he becomes compellingly attractive.  His glory–his beauty–compels your admiration and delight.  He becomes your supreme treasure.  You love him.  (John Piper, Think, 87)

 

Gospel Application:  Praise Jesus; who lived life as we were supposed to live and died the death we deserved to die and offered us His righteousness that we could possess by faith so we could inherit treasures in heaven that far outweigh anything we could ever secure or deposit on our own.  Why?  Because he considers us His treasured possession.  (Ex 19:5; Dt 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps 135:4; Mal 3:17; Rv 22:12).

 

God tells them, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” “Treasured possession” is the phrase a groom would call his bride.  More wedding language.  (Rob Bell; Sex God, 132)

 

Israel left Egypt weighted down with wealth, but they were not taken to the closest bazaar so they could spend it.  He took them into the wilderness where they could not spend even a single shekel!  There they were able to invest their riches for something more valuable than anything the world could sell them–the tabernacle, a habitation for God that He might dwell among them.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 191-2)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Don’t be a fool.  Store up treasures in heaven.  The only thing preventing you from this wonderful investment opportunity is your lack of faith in the promises of God.  And you think you have a better offer?  Really?

 

Quotes to Note:

Jesus is not here teaching anything that would contradict what is said elsewhere in God’s Word.  So he is not anti-private property.  He assumes, like the Ten Commandments do, that people do and will own things.  Nor is he anti-labor.  He is not saying there is no need to get a job, no need to work, no need to provide for your family (cf. 1 Tm 5:8).  He is not anti-banking, anti-savings, or anti-investment.  Moreover, he is not even anti-enjoyment.  He does not contradict Ecclesiastes, for example, which teaches we should enjoy the work of our hands and what it brings (e.g., 2:24, 25).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 177)

 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep

to gain what he cannot lose.  — Jim Elliott

 

Christ & the Kingdom:

Our Secure

Investment

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