If you were robbed and everything was taken, would it be much? How would you feel? I reckon you might feel invaded, perhaps violated and indignant and such like, and some of us know the feeling, but I reckon; how sad you feel depends on how much stuff they stole. The more you have, the more they take, and the more sad you would be, but is it just dependant on how much you have or on something else? We'll find out more as we listen to God's word tonight so let's pray and ask for our Father's help.
Please do turn with me to p685 Matt 6v19. We'll briefly look at some background to see where this passage fits in in Matthew's Gospel so that we understand it correctly. We'll then have a look at each of the three parts to this passage, v19-21, v22-34 and v24. And we'll spend most of our time in our first section.
Matthew who was Jewish wrote this to Jews but also to non-Jews and he wants to say that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the promised chosen King and he wants you and I to be in Jesus's divine Kingdom and as the king of the kingdom, in chapters 5-7, Jesus tells us how to live in his Kingdom whilst living on this earth. He describes what it's like to be a kingdom person and says you can't be a kingdom person privately. It's going to make a noticeable difference. If we have been saved by Jesus and brought into his amazing kingdom this then is how we should live and we'll see, like in we read earlier in Psalm 1, there are only two ways to live. And throughout Jesus gives a number of contrasts and we are given a choice - are we going to go live his way or our own? It's one or the other. It's black and white.
At the beginning of our chapter, chapter 6, he starts explaining how we should please God not man: The kingdom person should be more concerned with God's approval than with anyone else's and with that in mind we get to our passage in 6v19-24 where Jesus gives us three metaphors which raise three choices.
Our first is Choose what to treasure v19-21
Choose what to treasure. Let's read v19-21 again.
"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.
Firstly, its worth saying that it's not wrong to store things. It was wrong for the Israelites in the wilderness collecting manna on Sunday to Thursday but right for them to collect double on Friday and store some for Saturday. Proverbs 30 describes the ant as wise precisely because it stores up food 30v25. 2 Corinthians 12 takes for granted that we have an obligation to save up for our children. And it's our duty to provide for our wives and children when we are dead. Do store up something for them. So storing and saving certain things in itself is not bad.
Jesus is not condemning wealth or possessions or material things. He's condemning the love of these things. Here Jesus is showing us the danger of being materialistic. Of hoarding up material possessions for ourselves; materialistic things we are so tempted to love. And here's the funny thing they are made of matter. They are made from materials from this earth and every single one of them is returning to this earth. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Every single thing on this planet is returning to this earth. It's all decaying. Romans 8v21. These things that we are so tempted to treasure are rotting or being eaten; where moth and rust destroy. They're temporary they're not going to last. They'll perish or they may even be taken from you; thieves may break in and steal. - in other words you can't hold on to them. And besides you'll leave them behind when you vacate this earth. What's the point in holding on to them when you can't? Not only does Jesus say its wrong to treasure them but he also says it's stupid! It's stupid precisely because you can't hold on to them.
So there's the negative. Here's the positive; there are treasures we should try store up and hold on to. What are they and how do we get them? Verse 20
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
This is not a case of give away £10 and God will put £10 in your Barclays bank account in heaven. these are a different kind of treasure. These are not material. They are non-perishable and non-stealable. No one, not one person in the whole world, can take them from you. What are the sort of things we can expect in heaven? Basically things that are beyond our imaginations. Firstly heaven itself will be amazing beyond our imagination but imagine work without fatigue, imagine never finding something difficult to do, imagine having personal face to face access to the God who created you and loves you.
However being saved and going to heaven instead of hell is not something we can store up or work towards so what does he mean? Well if you read the rest of the bible you'll find that we are saved on the basis of Jesus' good works but we will also be rewarded for our own good works. Now here's a funny thing; I don't believe I can do one jot of good works in my own strength but must rely 100% on God to please him. See how we rely on his grace for everything.
The treasures in heaven are a result of God's approval. It is in the same vain as the rest of the chapter. See the verse just proceeding tonight's passage; v18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
You see that part of the theme here is God's kingdom people living God's kingdom way on earth receiving God's rewards in heaven.
So what are these good works? Look after the poor and needy, care for the widows and fatherless, visit those in prison, teach the gospel to others, provide for, give to, love and so on, be loving just as our heavenly father is loving. And that is the motivation for all our good deeds; love as he has loved you.
Are you going to treasure earthly material temporary stuff
or are you going to treasure heavenly treasure which lasts forever?
But here's the part that helps drive our Lord's point home, right to our hearts; v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What follows what? Is that you love something and so you treasure it? Is it that you've got your heart set on something and therefore you treasure it? No. It's quite the opposite. Your heart follows what you decide to treasure. You don't value the things you love. You love the things you value. And so; you won't invest in the things you love, you'll love the things you invest in. Let me say that again. You won't invest in the things you love, you'll love the things you invest in. You will end up loving the things you choose to value; the things you choose to hold in high regard. So what is worth valuing? What is worth leading your heart to? What is worth choosing to love? The answer as Jesus has just told us is not material things but heavenly things. Do you treasure heavenly things?
You see ski trips are not bad, Money is not bad. Nice things are not bad. But how much do you value them? How much could you live without them? Maybe you could try it for a while. How easily could you give them up in order to pay for a new church organ or pay for Christian concern or the Christian institute to contend for kingdom values in the public political arena? What do you treasure most - earthly things or heavenly things?
You see; what we value guides us, directs us. It pulls us. John Wesley, who got plenty of royalties from publishing books, said "When money comes into my hands I give it away, because if I hold onto it, it will get too close to my heart." He knew the danger of wealth on the heart; the magnetism of it, how attractive it is, how it pulls your heart. The question is not, 'How much are your possessions worth?' but 'How much are they worth to you?' Do you value them highly? How much do you value them? How much do you treasure them? If they were all stolen yes you'd be sad and rightly so but just how sad would you be? Do you value worldly temporary goods or do you value kingdom things - the king's values? Where is your heart and where do you want your heart to be? You have a choice. Where do you want your heart to be? Your heart belongs to the Lord and it's with him it should stay. Do you want your heart set on money? Do you want your heart set on kingdom things? v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So choose what to treasure.
We now come to our second choice;
Choose what to focus on v22-23
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
Now a lamp lights up a room. A lamp provides light to the rest of a room. How much light there is in the room depends on how effective the light is. Do you remember those early energy saving light bulbs that took ages to warm up? At first they're pretty ineffective at lighting up the room. The lamp determines how much light is in the room. And Jesus is likening our eyes to lamps. The eye being the lamp of the body indicates that
our eyes determine how much light is in us. Our eyes determine how much goodness is in us. in other words what we look at and what we focus our attention on determines how much goodness is in us. Let me repeat that. What we focus our attention on determines how much goodness is in us. Now this is sandwiched amidst verses which talk about money. Could this be about money too? Absolutely. Let's see how this works.
v22 says "If your eyes are good". Good. Some versions translate the word 'good' as 'healthy', The King james translates it as 'single'. Other occurrences of this word or related words in the bible seem to indicate a generosity without reserve - a generosity without reserve. So 'good', or 'sincere' or 'generous' - a single minded generosity i.e. without reserve, an unswerving generosity is what Jesus is getting at.
This is linked to v33 as we'll see next week - where Jesus tells us to seek first his kingdom. It's this single mindedness. It's this sincere, this 'in the right direction and without reserve' kind of attitude. That is what Jesus tells us to be like. After all, that is what God is like. He is 'generous without reserve.' Have a look at James 1v5-6 on the screen, where James has been contrasting single mindedness and double minded wavering-ness.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
Generously; it's the same word. God gives with a single minded unwavering generosity without finding fault. Can you see how the way God does his giving is in a generous unswerving way. He is a singleminded generous giver. He doesn't get distracted in his giving, and we should be the same.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light."
So for you and me - if you're one of God's kingdom people you should be giving as the King is giving. In a singleminded generous way. And if we do that then our whole person, our whole being is going to be better for it. We're going to be more holy, more godly. But what's this got to do with 'eyes'? Why does Jesus use the example of eyes? Well he's telling us to be careful what we set our eyes on, to be careful what we focus on. (If you're taking notes have a look at 1 John 2v16 later.) Don't get distracted. Be unwavering. Be focussed. Be careful where you look. Choose what to focus on. We should be focussed on his kingdom, on his ways, on pleasing him.
Let's see the contrast. v23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.
Darkness. When we focus on living our own way, when we are motivated by selfishness and greed, when we veer off God's way of living, from being focussed on his kingdom how quickly we get full of worries and anxieties. (We'll see more of that next week.) Again there is no middle way. It's one or the other. If our gaze is on things of this world rather than on pleasing our king then we'll be full of darkness. We'll be self centred and greedy. We wont be seasoned with salt and a light to the world. Can you see how what we focus on, what we choose to focus on, affects what we are like on the inside? Are we constantly fixed on his kingdom? Is our gaze unwavering? Have we got our sights fixed on the Lord Jesus and what he has in store for us in heaven? If we focus on bad things; selfish things it darkens us. It darkens our hearts and we won't have kingdom behaviour marking out our lives. Choose what to focus on.
Verse 23, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
I think this is a case of those who are misguided. If you think that you have light when really you have darkness, when you think your darkness inside you is light when it isn't, then you really are misguided. You're more dark than you think you are. Those who are in darkness and know they are in darkness are in a bad situation. But those who are in darkness but think they are in light are in an even worse situation!
What do you fix your gaze on? Are we focussed on amassing wealth for ourselves? Are we focused on the latest technology? Are we focussed on the best education we can buy? Are we focussed on bigger an better cars or houses? Are we reading and watching the world's and the devil's propaganda in those magazines, films and media which make us want more and more or are we reading God's word and spending time with other kingdom people and focusing on his kingdom values? Is our gaze singleminded? What are we focussing on? Choose what you focus on.
There's another choice we have too which brings us to our final point from verse 24:
Choose your master; God or Money - v24
Choose your master; God or Money.
"No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
You can't serve both. Again it's one or the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. The word for money was "Mammon" which was a Jewish term which originally meant, 'Something you could trust in or have confidence in' and later came to refer to mean money or possessions. Do you see the link? Something we put our trust or confidence in; God or money! It's very easy isn't to think we can put our trust in money - as long as I've got buying power then I'll have the ability to control my own future, I won't need to put my trust in someone else like a God that I can't control but I'll trust in this financial matter in my own hands and so I can be the master of my own destiny. But the funny thing is it's us that are being mastered and we have a choice as to who our master is and what kind of master we want. v24
"No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
This is talking about slaves. Think of slaves in Jesus' day - people owned slaves - people owned people. And just imagine it; trying to serve two masters. Imagine what it would be like. You are owned, and joint ownership is not an option, joint ownership wouldn't work. The slave is exclusively owned by someone. You can't be owned by two people it just doesn't work.
And do you want to serve money? Do you want money to be your master? Money is a cruel, nasty, unkind, deceitful, selfish greedy, and temporary master who can't fulfil or satisfy and lasts for only part of a fleeting lifetime. So next time we have some of that earthly financial matter in our hands or next time we have a choice over going for a better job, better car, better house, better education for us or our kids; think, "Are we going to serve this stuff or God?" For example, if you had a choice, would you choose a job promotion or leading in Sunday school? What would you choose? Now you might decide to go for the job promotion. It might be right to do so. You might choose to give the extra income to gospel causes, but would you give all the pay increase away or keep some for yourself? I'm saying you have to, but would you? How often do we say I'm going to do xyz "because it's better for the gospel" and really mean it?
Are we going to serve money? Are we going to choose money as our master or God? Look at God. Focus on him. Look at what he has given you. The eternal King of heaven as come down to earth and died in your place on the cross so that you can be forgiven for serving other masters and can be included in his heavenly Kingdom. What a kind and loving God, who when he comes to take us to be with him will grant us, on that day, everlasting life, a seat with him on his eternal throne (as we heard this morning) and we will be rewarded with grace and a crown of righteousness. Look at him, and love him. Be devoted to him. Are we going to serve him? Are we going to choose him as our master? Choose your master! Choose this day.
So in summary there are only 2 ways to live and Jesus gives us three metaphors to help us choose. Choose what to treasure. Choose what to focus on. Choose your master; God or Money