SOTM – True Treasure

“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 neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

We have completed our discussion on how we practice our piety or righteousness before others. We have talked of how God is our Heavenly Father and is present and wanting to reward those who come to Him. We have also discussed that our purpose is not the recognition of others, that we do not gain our value from others, that our identity is not found in others, but comes from our relationship with God. If God is not the first and foremost person in our lives, then we are not putting ourselves in a place where we can receive anything from our Heavenly Father. We cannot both seek the affirmation that we long for from those around us and from God. Our first and foremost commandment is, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Another place that we seek affirmation, our value and identity from is our possessions. This is the topic that Jesus addresses next in His Sermon on the Mount. Previously Jesus taught us that we cannot seek our identity and value from others and God at the same time, as this is impossible. He carries that same lesson forward as He teaches about wealth. A person who seeks and serves the treasures of the world is a person who is deeply divided at their core. There are three points that Jesus brings into the passage that we are to explore. The treasures of the earth, the treasures of heaven, and which treasure attracts our heart.

The first thing Jesus tells us in this passage is not store up treasures here on the earth. Were people tend to find and security in a reservoir of wealth whatever that may be. There are two ways to look at having a reserve of wealth. One is stacking and the other is stashing.

The Greek word for treasure means to treasure. This word has the idea of deposit or accumulation of wealth. That which we treasure we have stopped the flow of, we have stacked it. There is an old adage that Says, “The miser says coins are flat that they may rest in stacks; the spendthrift says they are round that they may roll.” We are looking at the miser here who stacks his treasure rather that lets it roll or flow in the economy. When the treasure is stacked it is not being used. If we stack our wealth then it is not in use and has no purpose other than our own admiration. Jesus had some words for one who would stack their wealth in the parable of the talents. “And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.” (Matthew 25:25-27)

Stashing is just what it sounds like. Another word would be hording our wealth. It is wealth that we just pile up. It is what we have beyond our necessities. It is not being used for our livelihood, our family, the poor, the Lord, wealth set aside for the future, or wealth we have invested in order to be good stewards. It serves no purpose other than to be admired by our self and is beyond that which we need or could possibly use.

Is Jesus telling us to do what He told the rich young ruler? “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21) The Lord never condemned us for having possessions. The rich young ruler had let his possessions come between Him and his service to the Lord. God gives us things, possessions, so we do not have to live a life in complete poverty. Our God is a God of provision and wants to provide for us if we would have the little faith to believe His promises. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

The wise King Solomon wrote many proverbs to instruct us how to gain and maintain our wealth. (Proverbs 6:6a, 8; Proverbs 14:23; Proverbs 2l:20; Proverbs 22:7b; Proverbs 24:3-4; Proverbs 28:19) Storing up treasure on earth is not a prohibition against possessing and enjoying our possessions. It is by our acceptance in thanksgiving that we receive these abundant gifts from God our provider.

Jesus is not telling us that we cannot have wealth or possession. Jesus is concerned about what is going on in our heart. It is not what we have but our attitude towards what we have. It is our good stewardship to provide for our family, it is prudent to plan for the future, we should make wise investments, it is our duty to care for the poor, and we should have enough wealth to support His Church. But if we are greedy or covetous then we have fallen into sinful behavior. It is the motives of our heart that the Lord is judging. All that we do and all that we have are to be used for the glory of God and His Kingdom.

There are proper investments that we should be making. And we should because we will be held accountable for our time, talent, and treasure. I was amazed to learn that John Wesley was a rather wealthy man. He was a great man of the faith and devoted his time to the Word of God. At one time in his life he gave away 59,000.00 dollars to a person in need. Yet when he died his estate was worth 28.00 dollars. John Wesley did store up his treasure on earth but invested it in the Kingdom of God.

The question is not what we have but how we use what we have. Do we use our wealth for our self or do we return it to the gracious God who gave it to us. I head a cool saying once that said “there is no smaller package than one wrapped up in himself.” If we covet our wealth then we have also committed idolatry. “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

Greed and covetousness is a very unprincipled life style. If we are providing for our families, for the needy, for our parents and for the Kingdom of God, then the rewards that the grace of God grants us here are His blessing. But if we are stacking and stashing for on own lust of wealth then we have forsaken our principles. “Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

I admit that parting with wealth can and too often is a hard thing for me to face. It should not be that way as the Lord loves a cheerful giver and that is what we all should be. But it is not really the parting of what I have but the motivation behind it. It is God’s wisdom that drives it. Do I love God? Do I believe in His Kingdom? It supports me and how foolish I am to not cheerfully support it. We are told to self-examine our self, and I do. I remember the old American Cancer Society catch line, “Checkup and a Check.” I checkup and them I joyfully pass along the gifts that God has given me by His grace. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 16, 2016

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