For Where Your Heart Is
Evangel Tabernacle | On 25, Jul 2014
by: Pas. Carlos Barcelona Jr.
Matthew 6: 19- 24
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”
In the ordinary everyday management of life, it is simple wisdom to choose only those things which will last. Whether we are buying a suit of clothes, or a car or furniture, it is common sense to avoid substandard goods and to buy the things which have solidity, permanence and craftsmanship found in them. (E.g. a woman who buys cheap shoes)
Jesus wants to teach us to concentrate on the things which will last. Today, I would like to entitle my sharing, “For Where Your Heart Is”
In the east, part of a man’s wealth often consisted in fine and elaborate clothes. Eg. When Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was forbidden to take some profit for the healing of Naaman, asked for a talent of silver and two festal garments. (2 Kings 5: 22) And one of the things which tempted Achan to sin was a beautiful mantle from Shinar. (Joshua 7: 21)Garments were considered treasures. And many a man’s wealth consisted in the corn and the grain that he had stored away in his great barns. Wealthy people built barns or storehouses.
But such things were foolish things to set the heart upon, for the moths might get at the garments, when they were stored away, and all their beauty and their value be destroyed. The word translated rust is brosis. It literally means an eating away. Into that corn and grain, the worms and the rats and the mice will come, until the store was polluted and destroyed. And in Palestine the walls of many of the houses were made of nothing stronger than baked clay; and burglars could enter by digging through a wall.
There is no permanence about treasure which is at the mercy of moth, rust and thieves. So in this passage Jesus teaches us about:
I. THE FLEETING TREASURES AND PLEASURES OF LIFE. v19- 21
1. They will wear out.
The finest garment in the world, will disintegrate with moths or no moths. All purely physical pleasures have a way of wearing out. At each successive enjoyment of them the thrill becomes less thrilling. And it requires more of them to produce the same effect. They are like a drug which loses its initial potency and will become increasingly less effective. A man is a foolish man who finds his pleasures in things which are bound to offer diminishing returns.
2. They can be eroded away.
There are certain pleasures which inevitably lose their attraction as a man grows older. It may be that he is physically less able to enjoy them; it may be that as his mind matures they cease to satisfy them. In life, the man should never give his heart to the joys that years can take away. He should find his delight in the things whose thrill time is powerless to erode.
3. They can be stolen away.
Not one of material things is secure; and if a man builds his happiness on them, he is building on a most insecure basis. If any man is wise, he will build his happiness on things which he cannot lose, things which are independent of the chances and the changes of this life.
Bones, wrote this, “But pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white- then melts forever.”
Anyone whose happiness depends on things like that is doomed to disappointment. Any man whose treasure is in things is bound to lose his treasure, for in things there is no permanence and nothing lasts forever.
Jesus did not magnify poverty nor did He criticize legitimate getting of wealth. God made all things, including food, clothing and precious metals.
God declared that all things He has made are good (Genesis 1: 31). God knows that we need certain things in order to live. In fact, He has given us “richly all things to enjoy” 1 Timothy 6: 17.
It is not wrong to possess things, but it is wrong for things to possess us.Jesus warned against the danger and deceit of living for the things of this life. And He pointed out sad consequences:
1. Enslavement of the Heart.
v19- 21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Materialism will enslave the heart. We can become shackled by the material things of life, but we ought to be liberated and controlled by the Spirit of God. If the heart loves earthly things and puts earthly gain above heavenly investments, the result can be a tragic loss. The treasures of earth may be used for God but if we gather material things for ourselves, we will lose them; and we will lose our hearts with them. Instead of spiritual enrichment, we will experience impoverishment.
2. Enslavement of the Mind.
v22- 23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Wealth not only enslaves the heart but it also enslaves the mind. God’s word often uses the eye to represent the attitudes of the mind. If the eye is properly focused on the light, the body can function properly in its movements. But if the eye is out of focus and seeing double, it results in unsteady movements.
It is most difficult to make progress while trying to look in two directions at the same time. If our aim in life is to get material gain, it will mean darkness within. But if our outlook is to serve and glorify God, there will be light within. If what should be light is really darkness, then we are being controlled by darkness, and outlook determines outcome.
So if everything that a man values and sets his eyes 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.
3. Enslavement of the Will.
v24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
We cannot serve two masters simultaneously. Either Jesus Christ is our Lord, or money is our lord. It is a matter of the will. “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare.” 1Timothy 6: 9. If God grants riches, and we use them for His glory, then riches are a blessing. But if we will to get rich, and live with that outlook, we will pay a great price for those riches.
II. THE NECESSITY OF LAYING UP REAL TREASURES.
The only thing which a man can take out of this world into the world beyond is himself; and the finer the self he brings, the greater his treasure in heaven will be. How do we lay up real treasures?
1. Through A Generous Eye
In verse 22- 23 the Authorized Version speaks about the eye being single and the eye being evil. The word evil is poneros and it means niggardly or grudging and ungenerous. The word for single is haplous, and it means generous and generosity.
James speaks of God who gives generously (James 1: 5), and Paul urges his friends to give in liberality (Romans 12: 8). It is the generous eye which Jesus is commending. “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy.”(Proverbs 23: 6)
Both Jesus and the Jewish Rabbis were sure that what is selfishly hoarded is lost, but what is generously given away brings treasure in heaven.
There is nothing like generosity for giving a clear and undistorted view of life and of people; and there is nothing like the grudging and ungenerous spirit for distorting a view of life and of people. When we have an ungenerous spirit or a grudging eye, it makes it impossible to live with ourselves, makes it impossible to live with other people and makes it impossible to live with God.
2. Through A Righteous Character and Attitude
The Jews were very familiar with the phrase treasure in heaven. They always connected the phrase treasure in heaven with character.
The Pharisees were covetous and used religion to make money. The dictionary refers to a Pharisee as, “A member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century B.C. and 1st century A.D. and they differed from the Sadducees chiefly in their strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.” However, the word has caught on and continues to be a word that describes people today who are, “Superior, self righteous, or hypocritical.” Plus, the thesaurus says being a Pharisee is synonymous with being a backslider, crook, fake, fraud, quack, sham, swindler, and even a wolf. These people were supposed to be the most religious people of their time. They went to church. They gave in the offering plate. They sang songs during worship time. So, what is their problem? Character and attitude!
We are accustomed to dividing life into the “spiritual” and the “material”; but Jesus made no such division. In many of His parables, He made it clear that a righteous attitude toward wealth is a mark of true spirituality. When we have the true righteousness of Christ in our lives, we will have a proper attitude toward material wealth.
3. Through Deeds of Kindness
The Jews believed that the deeds of kindness which a man did upon earth became his treasure in heaven.
They had a famous story about a certain King Monobaz of Adiabene who became a convert to Judaism. “Monobaz distributed all his treasures to the poor in the year of famine. His brothers sent to him and said, ‘Thy fathers gathered treasures, and add to those of their fathers, but thou hast dispersed yours and theirs.’ He said to them, ‘My fathers gathered treasures for below, I have gathered treasures for above; they stored treasures in a place over which the hand of man can rule, but I have stored treasures in a place over which the hand of man cannot rule; my fathers collected treasures which bear no interest, I have gathered treasures which bear interest; my fathers gathered treasures of money, I have gathered treasures in souls; my father gathered treasures for others, I have gathered treasures for myself; my fathers gathered treasures in this world, I have gathered treasures for the world to come.’”
The Early Church always lovingly cared for the poor, and the sick, and the distressed, and the helpless, and those for whom no one else cared.
In the days of the terrible Decian persecution in Rome, the Roman authorities broke into a Christian Church. They were out to loot the treasures which they believed the Church possess. The Roman captain demanded from Laurentius, the deacon: “Show me your treasures at once.” Laurentius pointed at the widows and orphans who were being fed, the sick who were being nursed, the poor whose needs were being supplied, “These,” he said, “are the treasures of the Church.”
The Church has always believed that “what we keep, we lose, and what we spend, we have.”
There are two great questions about possessions:
1. How did a man gain his possessions?
2. How does a man use his possessions?
The possession of wealth, money, material things is not a sin, but it is a grave responsibility. If a man owns many material things, it is not so much a matter for congratulation as it is a matter for prayer that he may use them as God would have him to do.