"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 eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.- Matthew 6: 19-24 (ESV)
Whenever people used to ask me if I thought God wanted to materially prosper us I would reflexively answer yes. I am not even sure why. Perhaps because there is so much prosperity being preached. Perhaps because we live in such a money-focused society. Perhaps because my flesh wants to hit the lottery just as much as the next person. The more I read Scripture however, the more I am convinced that I was wrong. The actual answer to that question is "no"; if that is the question on your heart. If you are constantly concerned about money. If you are obsessed with money. If you have essentially turned money or wealth into an idol, then the answer is "no." Just as much as if you were pursuing fame over God. Lust over God. Pride over God. Whatever it is that we are bowing down to there is no way God would want to bring more of that into our lives. Remember the very first commandment.
"You shall have no other gods before me. - Exodus 20: 3 (ESV)
None. That includes money and wealth. Throughout the Bible we see God constantly warning us about the evils of pursuing money. Of loving wealth. Jesus expressed how difficult it would be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Apostle Paul rebuked those who would preach for shameful gain. Referring to them as hucksters peddling the Word of God. Do not let anyone fool you beloved. It is not that God is infinitely concerned about money. It is that He is infinitely concerned about what we treasure. What do we value above everything else? So we come to these teachings in our continued look at the Sermon on the Mount. There are three main questions Jesus is trying to ask us here. The first is what do we value? The second is what do we believe? The third is who do we serve? Let's take a look at these three a little more in depth.
"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. - Matthew 6: 19-21 (ESV)
We know the verses. We have heard them preached. Perhaps too often and now we do not stop to truly consider the value of what God is teaching us here. What do we value and more importantly, where does God rank on the list of what we value? Let's face it beloved we live in a greedy, prosperity focused world. Within that world we live in the capital city, America. Wealth is not only pursued it is worshiped. It is little surprise then that this has infected the modern church as well. Churchgoers line up every week to hear the most unbiblical drivel about God wanting them all rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Here is a sampling:
"The more occupied you are with Jesus, the more money follows after you! Now why is that? It is simply because when you seek first the kingdom of God, and put Jesus, His righteousness (not your righteousness), His joy and His peace as your first priority, God's Word promises you that ALL the material things that you need will be added to you." - Joseph Prince
"Jesus went to the cross so you could get out of the garbage dump. He didn't want you to have to go around with your hat in your hand looking to humans for a bailout or a handout. No, sir! You are a joint heir with Christ Jesus. You are a child of the living God. You're supposed to be prosperous." - Kenneth Copeland
"God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us," - Joel Osteen
The verse Prince refers to is about God providing what we need to eat and clothe ourselves; not mansions and sports cars. Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay our debt of sin, not to "get us out of the garbage dump." God does not necessarily want us to have plenty of money. The disciples died poor. Many famous preachers died poor. In fact, once you leave the borders of this country the vast majority of Christians live and die poor. If your theology only works in this country then it is not God you are preaching. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ transcends all culture throughout all generations. Yet this tripe is still served from pulpits across this land every Sunday and the masses are eating it up at the trough of narcissistic self-indulgence. But like Don Henley once wrote however, you don't see no hearses with luggage racks.
And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully,and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." - Luke 12: 16-21 (ESV)
This is the Parable of the Rich Fool. It is meant to reinforce the importance of keeping God central in the plans we make with our lives. Secondarily however, it reinforces the truth that we will leave this earth with the same nothing we entered it with. The things we have prepared and struggled so hard for - whose will they be now? Tomorrow is promised to no one and we simply do not know when our lives will be required of us. Just this month I had to attend a wake for a friend from my old church. Dead at 52 and in the arms of Jesus now but no one knew it was coming. Then we all know people thriving into their 90's. This is why the key verses here implore us to examine where our heart is. What is it that we truly value? The sad truth is most of the things we value have no eternal worth at all. This life is but a glimmer. There are far too many carnal Christians driving through this life in luxury yet crawling into heaven, if they are saved at all. Consider these verses:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. - 1Corinthians 3: 10-15 (ESV)
We are all building a monument with our lives. The only question is what the monument honors. For many, like King Saul, we are building monuments of ourselves. We make everything about us, including the Bible. For others we make the things of this world our monument. We all know the Christians who are so in love with the Sodom they live in called America, that their primary citizenship is here and not in heaven. Instead of coming out from among Sodom, they try and jam their Christianity into a pagan, fallen society. They have convinced themselves that Sodom was once good, wholesome, and Christian and if we could just get back to that then God will somehow not judge this country when He comes to judge all. Lastly, our monument can be to Jesus. It can be about His Gospel and the bringing of the lost to the foot of the cross. Not with tricks and gimmicks but with the uncompromised Word of God. Know this beloved, whatever we are building will be tested. The truth will be revealed by fire and many of our works, which have no eternal value, will be consumed. The second main question Jesus is asking us here is what do we believe?
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!- Matthew 6: 22-23 (ESV)