Tonight I want to begin a series of messages concerning the Christian and his possessions. Traditionally this is a very sensitive subject. When the subject of a preacher's message is the matter of money or possessions, he is often accused of leaving spiritual matters and beginning to meddle in affairs that is not his concern.
Believe me, I have no desire to meddle tonight. However, it is my contention that there is nothing more spiritual in a Christian's life than their attitude toward material possessions! Why do I say such a thing? Because it is an issue of the believer's heart. If our heart's are not right concerning this issue, then our heart's are not right toward God! Let me re-phrase that for you tonight. If you are not obedient to God's Word in this matter, God is not pleased with your life! It is sin that must be confessed, repented of, and cleansed.
Note our text this evening. Mt. 6:19-24 Jesus begins, as usual, by presenting a great principle and then the explanation. The principle: Lay not up treasures upon earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
I. The Command Reveals a Difference.
A. Is it wrong to have treasures?
1. Immediately when we hear the word treasure our mind goes to thinking in terms of dollars and cents.
2. Now treasure includes money, but it is more than money.
3. Our "treasure" may be a home, it may be a person, it may be a position that we hold or seek after.
4. Whatever means everything to you, that is your treasure...whatever you find of great importance to you, that is your treasure.
B. It isn't wrong to have treasures.
1. The desire to possess is within each one of us.
2. It isn't even wrong to lay up treasures for yourself.
3. Jesus commands us to "lay up treasures" for ourselves.
C. The key to understanding this commandment.
1. The "laying up" is something that we do now!
2. Right now we are laying up treasures "upon earth" or "in heaven".
3. Treasures upon earth:
a. These are tangible, material values which we expect to enjoy now.
b. Note: v32 "For after all these things...."
c. We could include in this list of things...
1) our car, house, clothing
2) all our possessions whatever they might be
3) all that we have or hope have lies in the realm of earthly treasures
4) things that we can have and enjoy now!
4. Treasures in heaven:
a. These are the intangible, the immaterial.
b. Note: 1 Timothy 6:17-19
c. These treasures involve, not things, but actions and deeds.
d. They are something that we do now, but will enjoy later.
e. Note: Mt. 25:35-40
f. The treasures of heaven lie within the realm of attitudes and deeds. Seen in how we respond to the needs of others.
II. The Command Reveals a Difficulty.
A. Earthly Treasures Won't Last.
1. Jesus said there were three specific problems with earthly treasures.
2. Moths, rust, and thieves.
3. If our treasures are upon this earth we can be sure of one thing: We will lose them!
4. There is no way that we can preserve them for ourselves.
a. what the moths and the rust do not destroy, thieves will steal!
b. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." cf. 1 Ti. 6:7
c. Someone said that they envied a certain man because he died a millionaire...but when he died, his millions didn't die with him, someone else got to enjoy them.
B. Earthly Treasures Won't Satisfy.
1. We crave for something, and the moment we get it there is a sense of dissappointment.
2. You want verification of that?
a. Look in your closet...
b. Look in your children's toy box...
c. Look in your attic...
d. Look at the number of garage sales...
3. A man sat across from a woman who was a chain smoker.
a. She lit one cigarette after another until the entire pack was gone.
b. She crumpled the package and tossed it on the ground.
c. Across the front of the package read the words: The Taste That Satisfies!
4. In the window of a unique gift shop hung an opium pipe with this sign beneath: For the man who wants to forget that he has everything!
5. The problem with earthly treasures is that they don't last and that they don't satisfy!
III. The Command Reveals a Danger. v21
A. First, the heart is involved.
1. These treasures grip us whether they are of earth or of heaven.
2. So we see the great danger of earthly treasures...
a. if our affections are centered on things
b. we begin to love things and use people, rather than love people and use things.
c. we discover that we are ready to fight for those things that we love...they have claimed our affections.
d. we become bitter and angry when someone attempts to take away what we have set up as our treasures.
B. Next, the mind is involved.
1. Note: v22-23
2. Jesus is saying that there are only two ways to look at things.
a. Single-eyed: with a spiritual mind which properly evaluates treasure and therefore can see everything clearly and truly.
b. Evil-eyed: with a carnal, material mind which blurrs and distorts the vision and clouds our perception of what is truly valuable.
3. What the heart seizes upon, the mind begins to justify.
a. We are experts at explaining our extravagances.
b. The car needed a new muffler, the tires were just about shot, it would cost nearly $500 to fix it up...so I went out and bought a new one. Payments are only $300 a month for the next eight years!
c. Jesus said, "...if therefore the light that is in thee is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
d. Our sense of value is darkened.
C. Not only the heart and mind are involved, but also the will. v24
1. When we use the word "serve" we move into the realm of action, choice, of decision.
2. There is no middle ground here either we serve God or we serve mammon or money.
3. We decide whom we will serve!
a. we are back to the beginning where Christ commands us not to lay up treasures upon the earth,
b. but to lay up treasures in heaven.
c. the choice is ours...Christ- ianity is not so much what we say, as it is what we do!
Conclusion: Note: 2 Co. 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves..." Tonight I want to challenge each of us to do just that in this matter of possessions. Are we laying up treasures on this earth that will be of no eternal value? Or are we laying up treasures in heaven? An hour spent visiting someone who is in need of encouragement, witnessing to the lost, helping the needy. These are truly treasures. Money spent for missions, or investing in the spiritual growth of others is never lost! Jim Elliot, missionary who was killed as he endeavored to take the Gospel to the Auca Indians in South America, made this statement: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Everytime we have a missionary we have an opportunity to make eternal investments. Everytime we hear from them on the field we have an opportunity to make an eternal investment. What good is our money, if we do not invest it in the Lord's work?