This past Sunday we celebrated our church’s 69th anniversary. Can churches get Social Security and Medicare? As we (I) get older, we are encouraged to get regular physical examinations. So on Sunday I challenged our “older” congregation to take a spiritual health examination. In Matthew 6:19-24 the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, examines us all using three probing questions.
First, where is your true treasure (vv. 19-21)? Most of us spend the majority of our time and energy laying up (hoarding, collecting, stockpiling) money and possessions, ie, earthly treasures. Unfortunately, they can be consumed, destroyed, stolen or lost, plus they stay here when we die (Job 1:21; 1 Timothy 6:7). As one has aptly commented: no hearing has ever been seen pulling a U-haul. Furthermore they cannot get us to heaven (Matthew 16:26). Only Jesus can do that.
Our Savior is not saying that we cannot have things, but we should never, ever become obsessed or totally focused and reliant on things. We rather need to be gathering treasures in heaven or investing in eternity (Luke 16:1-9). 1 Peter 1:3 states that a believer’s heavenly inheritance is “incorruptible, undefiled and does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”
How do we lay up treasures in heaven?
1 — We realize that all we have really belongs to God, and we are just managers (1 Corinthians 4:1-7), and
2 — We use our time, talents and treasures to glorify him and spread his gospel while we make our living (Matthew 25:14-30). We witness to others, help those in need, teach God’s Word, encourage other believers, pray, etc.
How do we really know where our true treasures are? Check out where your heart (your affections, values, thoughts, priorities) is. Corrie Ten Boom, who survived the Holocaust, said that she kept a light grip on things so that God would not have to break her fingers to get to them.
Secondly, where is your true focus (vv. 22-23)? Jesus points to our eyes being the light and guide of our physical bodies. “Good” (single, sound, healthy, undistorted) eyesight is a real blessing while “bad” (defective, distorted, diseased, double-visioned) eyes cause great hindrance in our lives.
Now take that eye illustration and apply it to our spiritual eyesight and focus. Are you focused on serving God and eternal values or fixed totally on this life’s material concerns (Mark 4:7, 18-19)? Possessions and money are a support for our lives but should never be our lives. Like the tightrope to a walker, we cannot focus on them lest we get dizzy and fall. 1 Timothy 6:10 warns us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Lastly, where is your true loyalty (vs. 24)? As born-again believers, we have been bought out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) and now God totally owns us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He is our undisputed Master, and we have no rights of our own. We should wake up not saying, “What do I want to do today?” but “Lord, what do you want me to do?” We should serve and love him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength (Mark 12:30).
It is absolutely impossible to give two distinct masters your 100% devotion, love and loyalty. One will be hated (neglected, slighted) and despised (looked down upon). Try working two full-time jobs at the same time. “You cannot serve God and mammon” simultaneously and fully.!
Who or what is “mammon”? It originally was the Hebrew word “to entrust,” like money to a banker for safe-keeping. Then it came to mean “that in which one puts his trust in him” as Paul warned the rich “not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God” (1 Timothy 6:17). Finally it was given a capital “M” and personified like a false god or idol. Number one of God’s Top Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before me.” Period. (Exodus 20:3) Money and possessions are great servants but terrible masters (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
I believe that materialism is a big reason for the lack of spiritual vitality and influence in America’s churches as it enslaves our hearts (vv. 19-21), our focus (vv. 22-23) and our loyalty (vs. 24). The lukewarm Laodicean church thought it was rich, wealthy and lacked nothing whatsoever, but Jesus saw them as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” needing to repent of their materialism and get refocused on him and true riches (Revelation 3:15 -twenty). We need to do the same as our world is so very needy spiritually and materially, yet we wallow in our abundance unconcerned.
A legend is told of three men crossing a desert on horseback at night. As they approached a dry creek bed, a strong voice commanded them to stop, dismount, pick up some pebbles and put them in their pockets not looking at them until the morning. If they obeyed, they would be both glad and sad. As dawn appeared, they pulled out their pebbles utterly amazed that they had transformed into diamonds, rubies and precious gems. They then realized the truth. They were glad they had obeyed and had some treasures but sad that they did not pick up more.
I believe it will be the same in heaven. We’ll be glad for the treasures and awards we receive for serving Jesus but will regret spending too much of our lives collecting the pebbles of this world. Let’s commit our all to Jesus today and oust mammon from the throne of our hearts vowing to make a real difference in this world for Jesus while we have time.