In Prov. 23:5 Solomon wrote “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings, and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
We may not be all consumed with acorns, but we have other things which we like to accumulate, and even hoard. There is even a TV show called ‘Hoarders.’ And people have so much stuff, they can’t fit it in their homes and have to go out and rent a storage unit to store their material posessions.
It is amazing the way greed and materialism can consume us.
–James Patterson and Peter Kin, in their book The Day America Told the Truth, reveal how far people in the United States would actually go for money. At first they asked people what they would you do for $10 million and then asked people if they would do the same for $5 million and then $2 million. After $2 million the percentages came down drastically. However for at least $2 million, people responded they would do the following things for money:
a. (25%) Would abandon their entire family for $2 million..
b. (23%) Would become prostitutes for a week or more
c. (16%) Would give up their American citizenship
d. (16%) Would leave their spouses
e. (10%) Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
f. (7%) Would kill a stranger
g. (3%) Would put their children up for adoption
Can you imagine that? Jesus warns us in Luke 12:15 – “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
And here in our text, in Mt. 6:19-21 Jesus said, “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.”
In our text today Jesus again raises the bar by telling His disciple that they should not be all consumed with treasures of this earth, but rather they should focus more on laying up treasure in heaven.
But how does one store up treasures in heaven?
–Bill Hybel’s lists three important we should deposits in our heavenly bank account:
#1 Worship (that is genuine heart-felt worship)
–“ Worship is never wasteful in the eyes of God. Every act of private and corporate worship is a deposit in your heavenly bank account.” He also adds, “Not only does worship move and delight the heart of God, it helps restore our perspective on what is truly valuable in this life.”
#2 Become Christ-like Character
–“The Bible clearly teaches us that if we want to lay up treasure in heaven, one of the best investment strategies is personal character development. We should make every attempt to strengthen our character in a way that honors God. Each time we do this, it is a deposit in our heavenly bank account.
In 1 Peter 3:8-9 he writes, ‘Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Every time we choose love over hate, kindness over harshness, empathy over insensitivity, truth-telling over lying, forgiveness over grudge-bearing, a polite spirit over rudeness, silence over slander, wisdom over foolishness, purity over immorality, faith, or generosity over stinginess, we delight the heart of God and add to our heavenly portfolio.”
#3: Expressions of Generosity
Illustration: Mr. Baker, a wealthy Christian man gave away millions of dollars to kingdom ministries. During the depression he lost all of his wealth. When one critical reporter asked him if he regretted giving money to one Christian college he said, “Whatever I gave away to God I still possess for eternity.” That is the way giving to the Lord works, we give but we never lose – we only gain.
–“Every time we show an act of compassion, we build up our treasure in heaven. It might seem like a small act of kindness, but it counts! Others might look on and chuckle at our efforts. They might even say that we can’t make a difference. But Jesus calls us to express His love, kindness, and compassion to those in need. When we do, we are storing up treasures in heaven where rust can’t corrupt, moths can’t eat, and thieves can’t steal. It’s a great investment plan!”
Do you remember what Jesus told His disciples who will enter the Kingdom of heaven? In Matthew 25 when He said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’And when those disciples asked when they did that for Him He told that that when they did those things for their fellow man it was like they were doing it for Him.”
I want to add one more deposit to that list – # 4: Leading others to Jesus Christ
When you get to heaven, what a joy it will be to see all of those with whom you shared the gospel. It might be your children, your friends, your neighbors, other relatives, even the lady who waited on your table at your favorite restaurant or the fellow behind the counter at the convenience store.
Won’t it be a grand time to hear: “I’m here because you shared your love of Christ with me.”
1 Pet. 1:4 calls our deposits “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…”
SO WHERE DO YOU FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION
In Mt. 6:22-23 Jesus said, “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!”
I think Jesus chose an interesting analogy—connecting materialism with the function of the eye. – A “good” eye is a metaphor for how we look at life. –A “good” eye views life as an investment opportunity for heaven.
B. We need to focus on the light rather than the darkness, to set our vision toward Christ instead of material things.
–Heb. 12:2a tells us to, “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”1. In 2 Corinthians Paul says to focus on what will last. In 2 Cor. 4:18 he tell us to, ‘fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.’For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’Isn’t that what Jesus was saying when He said that moths and rust destroy and thieves steal?
2. Whatever captures the attention of our eyes in time will magnetically draw us to it. 1 Jn. 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “ He goes on to say, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
In Mt. 6:24 Jesus goes on to teach “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.”
Whatever owns or consumes your life is what you will serve. Are you like that about anything? Money? things? your business? Do you own it or does it own you? Look at poor Scrat.
Someone once said: “Money is a wonderful servant, but a lousy master.” I think we can say the same thing about a lot of things. Scrat could have said the same thing about acorns.
If you are serious about laying up treasures in heaven then it starts here on earth. –Heavenly living begins here and is completed in heaven
CONCLUSION: A. Don’t misunderstand Christ’s words in our passage today.
1. His admonition is not about wealth; it is about greed and materialism.
— You can be on food stamps and be more sinful through your envy, jealousy,
covetousness and desire for material possessions than a millionaire who is generous and finds hope in God.
2. What is your priority? –Where is your heart?
Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Dr. Raymond Ortlund, Jr. once wrote “Picture yourself standing with Jesus on the sidewalk of a commercial park somewhere here in town. He points to a building on one side of the street: ‘Don’t invest in that company — Earth, Inc. Their security system is inadequate. People are hacking into their computers. Their physical plant is aging. In fact, their site is condemned. But look over here on this side of the street — Heaven, Inc. Their assets are secure, backed up by the Lord of the universe. Their security is infallible and their performance impeccable. They have never lost one single dime. Every dollar invested with them has repaid big-time.”
Many procrastinate about putting money aside for their future, investing in their retirement. At least I have. My encouragement today is not to procrastinate about investing in the true riches we talked about today in this sermon. Invest in His eternal Kingdom each day and you will never be sorry!