“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” (Matthew 6:19-24).
In Matthew 6, one of the main points, if not the main point, is our relationship as Christians to our heavenly Father. In this chapter alone, Jesus mentions the term “Father” 11 times, showing the significance and importance of that relationship (verses: 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 26, 32). Our relationship to the Father as His children is the most remarkable and incredible relationship. We have been bought with a price, so that we can be called “children of God.” Romans 8:15-17 states:
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
What a powerful thing it is to know that we are the Father’s children and that we can go before Him and cry to Him, “Abba, Father.” “The great secret of life according to our Lord is to see ourselves and to conceive of ourselves always as children of our heavenly Father.” So many things pull us away from the significance of that relationship and vie for our attention.
In Matthew 6, Jesus brings up two big temptations we all face as believers that distract us and pull us away from the importance and the satisfaction that we can have in our relationship with God the Father. The first temptation evident in chapter 6 is the religious man doing his works before man to receive the praise of man instead of doing them in secret, where only God the Father knows. Jesus says that if we seek the praise of men, we have our reward, but if we seek to glorify God, the Father will reward us openly. The examples given are charitable deeds, prayer, and fasting. The temptation is to seek to be noticed, to be put on a high pedestal as one who is religious, and to gain the praise of men. The second temptation we face as believers is the temptation of being like the world in seeking treasures on this earth. So often, we look at the things of this earth and say to ourselves, “If only I had that, then I would be all set.” We seek to find security and satisfaction in temporary things instead of what we already have in our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. Both of these temptations want our attention, and both distract us from what truly matters – our relationship with God the Father.
The big question from the Sermon on the Mount is the question of where my heart is. In reading through and studying the Sermon on the Mount over the past several months, my heart has been challenged to really think through this question and to evaluate if my heart is seeking after self or after a real, vibrant relationship with God. In a lot of ways, we can put on many masks and faces so people perceive us as spiritual or godly, when in reality, deep in our heart of hearts or in our private life, we struggle with fears, temptations, and desiring the things of the world for man’s praise instead of glorifying God. In this passage, Jesus directly addresses the heart by asking the question, “Where is your treasure?” He says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There are a lot of things vying for your heart, as this is the control center for life.
“The Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of his heart. Proverbs 4:23 states it like this: ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.’ The word picture here is graphic. The heart is a well from which all the issues of life gush forth.”
Therefore, we must guard our hearts and watch over them so that our heart follows hard after the things of God and is not distracted by the things of this world. In this message, I ask three questions. The first question we must ask ourselves as we begin this passage of Scripture is: “Where is our treasure?” In asking this, we will answer the question “Where is our heart?” because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The second question to ask ourselves is: “Where is our focus?” What are our eyes focused on? Are they focused on the seen or the unseen? The final question to be addressed is: “Who, or what, are you serving?” Here Jesus is surrounded by religious people, Sadducees and Pharisees, men who look very religious on the outside, but who in their hearts are serving money and themselves rather than God. Jesus is also surrounded by people who have never heard this kind of radical teaching. Jesus is asking us to repent, to change our minds about these things, to live a life of faith, and to serve the one true God.
Where Is Your Treasure?
“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 no break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
It is not too difficult to think of examples of men and women who have laid up for themselves treasures upon the earth, thus showing where their heart truly was. Several come to mind:
Example 1 – The story of Achan (Joshua 6:17-18, 7:1-26). In verse 18, God instructs the children of Israel to attack Jericho, to abstain from the accursed things, and to bring all the silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron to be consecrated to the Lord into the treasury of the Lord. Now as they attack Jericho, one of the men disobeys the command of the Lord and keeps for himself a beautiful Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 pounds. Because of this man’s sin, Israel is defeated at the battle of Ai, and this man is put to death because his heart coveted after these riches instead of honoring the Lord and doing as He had asked.
Example 2 – The Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-22). In this story, a rich young ruler comes to ask Jesus a question. The question he asks is how he might have eternal life. Jesus answers the man by telling him that he needs to obey the commandments, and the rich young ruler responds, “Which ones?” Jesus responds, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young ruler responds that he has kept all these things and asks, “What do I still lack?” This is where Jesus drops the bomb on the rich young ruler. He says, “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor” and “follow Me.” Where was this young man’s heart? You can tell by his reaction. His heart is controlled by his wealth and riches. This young ruler is wealthy and supposedly has a lot going for him, but he is not willing to let those things go in order to follow Jesus. He is willing to love his neighbor and do the commands that pertain to his fellow man, but when it comes down to loving the Father and having no other gods before Him, he is not willing to let go of the wealth he obtained here on earth in order to gain eternal life.
We have seen a couple of examples of people who laid up their treasures on the earth, and the end result for both of these situations was death. Their hearts were set upon the things of this earth, and they were willing to disobey God for the sake of temporal riches that do not last. The things we gather here on earth are only temporal; they do not last for eternity.
Where is your treasure? So many things come to mind when I think of what Jesus is saying in these three verses that begin our passage. Are you earthly-minded or heavenly-minded? Are you investing in the future eternity to come, or are you investing in the here and now? Are you enthralled with the temporary versus the permanent? Now obviously all of these are asking the same thing, but it is very important that we fully grasp this thought. Jesus uses the three examples below to show how the things we deem most important are only temporary. He uses the moth, rust, and the thief. We can all think of examples of these things in our lives. For instance, someone drives a new car off the lot so proudly. They love this vehicle. They have the windows rolled down and the music cranked as they want the world to know they have just bought this new car! The next thing you know, a little humility comes as they are sideswiped, and their new shiny car is destroyed and no longer of value.
The Moth: We all know that when moths get into our clothes, they eat holes right through them. The moth is a tiny little butterfly-looking animal that doesn’t appear harmful at all. But it will destroy the most expensive, elaborate fabric you could ever own.
Rust: I grew up in Illinois where roads are salted in the winter, and the effect of that salt on cars is brutal. We had an old, brown Ford F150 truck that had holes in the bed because of rust; it even had holes in the floorboards due to rust. You could have the nicest car in the world, but eventually, because of the snow and slush and all the salt that gets on the outside of your car, it eventually rusts. Rust destroys, as moths do, the property and riches we work so hard to obtain.
The Thief: With money and riches comes great fear of someone taking them, so mankind does all in his power to protect what he has. He puts walls around his house so no one can get in. He has security guards guarding them at all times and hidden safes for his rare jewels. What does the thief do? He breaks in and takes what the wealthy man has, and he will do anything to get it.
What do you deem as valuable, because what you deem as valuable shows you where your heart is? Maybe it is money and wealth; maybe it is power and the desire to be recognized as a leader; maybe it is looking spiritual on the outside so that people think you have it together. Maybe it is popularity and acceptance through nice clothes, a home, or an X-box gaming console. Maybe it is your family and how you have raised great kids. Here, Jesus is calling us to change our minds from the temporary to the eternal, from the things that are passing by to the things that are permanent. You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer! If you did, we would all be shocked because we know the earthly treasures we store up cannot be taken with us. They are only temporary. All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks us to repent, to change our minds and our attitudes, and to be like those in Hebrews 11 who had eternity in their hearts and the promises God gave them.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desired a better that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).
In contrast, Jesus says in Matthew 6:20, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Here Jesus is talking about laying up eternal treasures that do not fade away. What are these treasures Jesus is talking about? First Peter 1:3-6 states:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.
What an awesome thing to know that as believers our inheritance is waiting for us, that as children of God, we will inherit eternity! Being with Christ, that is our reward! Those who strive to store up treasures here on earth will be disappointed because those treasures will only pass away.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
At the end of our life as believers, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for our lives here on the earth. Whatever we have laid upon that foundation, whether gold or hay, will go through the fire and either last or not last. Those believers who seek to build up wealth and riches on earth will suffer loss and will be saved as through fire, whereas those who strive to lay up treasures in heaven will receive a reward. The greatest of these treasures is that we can enter eternity fully pardoned and set free from the bondage of sin because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
So the question arises, “How do we lay up treasures in heaven?” The answer is by living the way God has asked us to live and following after Him in all that we do. For example, loving your neighbor as yourself – if a man has a need for a shirt and you have extra, give him one – being a cheerful giver, honoring God in your marriage, guarding your mind against adulterous thoughts, sharing the good news of the gospel with those around you. There are so many things which all narrow down to loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself.
In the final statement in verse 21, Jesus goes back to the heart: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” One of the Ten Commandments states: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When we set our hearts on the things of this earth and fall to the temptation of being worldly in our ways, we are committing idolatry because we are no longer serving God. Rather, we have put our riches above God, and we are serving them. They have become our god and our life. Jesus challenges us, as He challenged those He was talking to that day in the crowd, to ask ourselves where our treasure is. If your treasure is on earth and the things of this world, your heart will be there as well. If your heart is focused on the Father and on laying up treasures in heaven, your heart will be there.
I am reminded of the movie, The Mummy, and a character called Beni. Toward the end of the movie, when they find the great treasure room, Beni has lost all sense of control and is controlled by the riches and wealth present amongst them. I am sure Beni had visions of living the life of luxury and being the
wealthiest man in the world, but that is not the way the story ends. Something happens in the temple, and the money room begins to fill up with sand, and the door closes so they cannot escape. Beni has the opportunity to get out, but the power of the riches and wealth are his downfall. He attempts to fill his pockets and drag out bags filled with gold, which are too heavy. Eventually the door closes, and Beni is trapped amongst all those jewels and riches, never to see the light of day again and never able to use the riches he deemed so valuable. The power of those riches controlled him, and they were the cause of his death. Let us not get to the end of our lives having pursued the wealth and riches of this world only to realize that we pursued and were controlled by the wrong things.
How Is Your Vision?
“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!” (Matthew 6:22-23).
Below are examples that pertain to our passage. Gathering up riches here on the earth blurs our vision. It causes us not to see the truth, the will of God, correctly. It distorts our vision, causing us to not see God as clearly as maybe we once did.
Example 1 – The Story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In this story, a man and his wife sold a possession, brought the money to the apostles, and laid it at their feet. This occurred a lot in the early church:
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need (Acts 4:34-35).
This story is a little different though. When they brought their money to the apostles, Ananias and Sapphira lied, saying they had brought all the money they had made from selling this possession. But in fact, they had kept back some for themselves. Peter accuses Ananias of lying to God, and at that moment, Ananias falls to his death. The same thing happens to his wife, who also lies to God about how much they had received for the possession. Ananias and Sapphira had seen earlier the praise and acceptance others had received for selling their property; therefore, they sold this great possession for the sole purpose of being noticed, accepted, and looked upon as spiritual. Because of this, they lied to the Holy Spirit, and their lives ended as a result.
Example 2 – The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). In this parable, Jesus makes a profound statement we all should listen to very carefully. He states in verse 15 that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” The parable of the rich fool suggests this very thing. This parable tells of a rich man who has yielded a great crop. He decides to tear down his old barns and build newer, bigger barns. Then after he is done, he decides to retire, so to speak, thinking that he has enough stored up to last many years. Now he can sit back, relax, and take it easy. What happens? God calls him a fool and says that his life is required of him that day. Jesus completes this parable by saying, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” So many of us long for the day we can sit back and enjoy our fortune we have been saving up for retirement and take the path of easiness. This man was ruled by his wealth, thinking of all he had accumulated, only to die that night and see his wealth squandered and split up. He was unable to take it with him.
This next section, addressing the same issue but stating it differently, uses the illustration of the eye. When riches are the focus of our lives, our vision becomes distorted. When the things we can see outweigh the eternal things that are unseen, we have spiritual near-sightedness. The eye is the pathway through which light enters the body. It illuminates what is going on around us. It allows colors, scenery, and faces to come to light when we look at them. William Barclay states:
The idea behind this passage is one of childlike simplicity. The eye is regarded as the window by which the light gets into the whole body. The color and state of a window decide what light gets into a room. If the window is clear, clean, and undistorted, the light will come flooding into the room, and will illuminate every corner of it. If the glass of the window is colored or frosted, distorted, dirty, or obscure, the light will be hindered, and the room will not be lit up… So then, says Jesus, the light which gets into any man’s heart and soul and being depends on the spiritual state of the eye through which it has to pass, for the eye is the window of the whole body.
First Peter 1:6-9 states:
In this you greatly rejoice [talking about our inheritance] though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to the praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end or your faith – the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9, brackets and italics mine).
The eye that is full of light is a life lived by faith in the eternal promises of God. We may not be able to see the physical manifestation of those things, but we believe by faith in the truth that one day we will be with Christ – the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls. When our focus is on earthly, temporal things, our sight is all blurred and messed up. I can remember a time when for two days, I had something in my eye that hurt continually and made my eye water. I couldn’t open it; it was very sensitive to light, and it was a distraction from truly seeing what was going on. It is the same when our treasure is on earth; it is a distraction from what is really going on. We cannot see straight. Look at two examples in Hebrews 11:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, in whom it was said, IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward (Hebrews 11:17-18).
Here are two prime examples of men who had good eternal vision: they saw clearly, they saw eternity, and they saw the reward versus the temporary things that were passing on by. Because of this faith, God used them in mighty ways.
The question then is, “How is your vision?” James Boice states:
Do you see spiritual things clearly? Or is your vision of God and his will for your life clouded by spiritual cataracts or near-sightedness brought on by an unhealthy preoccupation with things? I am convinced that this is true for many Christians, particularly those living in the midst of Western affluence.
Have you ever tried on someone else’s glasses and noticed how it affects your vision? I remember times in high school when we were driving on back roads in Illinois at night, and we would turn out the car lights. It was so black we could not see because our eyes were used to the light. When that light was not present, it took a while to adjust to having no light. Of course, we would get scared immediately and turn the lights back on so as not to perish! We can all relate in some way to this parable of the eye that Jesus brings forth. If the eye of our heart and mind is focused on earthly treasures, our vision will be blurred and distorted, and we will not be able to rightly distinguish God’s will for our life, or we may not be able to see God as clearly as we once did. If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. What happens in the dark or if you wear rose colored glasses? You stumble around the room trying to find some source of light so that you can find your way and see things so you don’t trip and fall or stub your toe. When our eyes are focused on the things of this world, our eyes are bad, our bodies are full of darkness, and we have a very difficult time seeing the truth. If the eyes of our heart and mind are focused on the Father, then we will be in right standing with Him and see Him clearly to know what He is asking of us at that point in time. “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). So I ask again, “How is your vision? What are your eyes focused upon?”
Who Are You Serving?
Now we come to a very powerful and pivotal point in the passage at hand. This verse, in fact, is the climax of the Sermon on the Mount. This passage asks the all-important question, “Who are you serving?” People often think they can have the best of both worlds – both here on earth serving themselves with riches and living it up, and later down the road in the future, which would be heaven. In this passage, Jesus states: “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” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus tells us here that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve money and God; we cannot serve popularity and God; we cannot serve ourselves and God; we cannot serve our families and God. We can have only one master. Jesus is once again challenging us to look at the whole Sermon on the Mount, challenging us to repent, to change our minds about earthly treasures, about the things that we formerly served, and to serve Him only. You cannot do it no matter how hard you try. One or the other will lose out, and in most cases, it will be God. Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells this story:
A farmer … one day reported to his wife with great joy that his best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white. He said, “You know, I have been led of the Lord to dedicate one of the calves to him. We will raise them together. Then when the time comes to sell them, we will keep the proceeds that come from one calf and we will give the proceeds that come from the other to the Lord’s work.” His wife asked which calf he was going to dedicate to the Lord, but he answered that there was no need to decide that then. “We will treat them both in the same way,” he said, “and when that time comes we will sell them as I have said.” Several months later the man entered the kitchen looking very sad and miserable. When his wife asked what was troubling him he said, “I have bad news for you. The Lord’s calf is dead.” “But,” his wife remonstrated, “you had not yet decided which was to be the Lord’s calf.” “Oh, yes.” he said. “I had always determined that it was to be the white one, and it is the white calf that has died.”
James Boice comments: “It is always the Lords calf that dies – unless we are absolutely clear about our service to him and about the true nature or our possessions.”
I would like to point to an example of someone who had the right perspective on what this meant. Many of you may know this example. It is actually one of my favorite passages of Scripture, one that challenges me greatly every time I read it.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
The Apostle Paul was in the religious sense a man who had it all. He was circumcised the eighth day; he was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. Concerning the law, he was a Pharisee; concerning zeal, he persecuted the church. Concerning righteousness, which is in the law, he was blameless. Paul had it all, but he gave all that up because he saw all this as rubbish, as “dung,” so that he might know Christ and the power of His resurrection. He was serving one Master, and that Master was Jesus Christ, and Him alone. The things of this world and the things this world had to offer did not appeal to him anymore because the Father had changed his heart and made him a new man. In his life, Paul had a change of mind – he repented and until his death, Paul followed Christ. He saw the significance of laying up treasure in heaven, and he laid aside those things that might have appealed to his flesh so that he might live by faith in the unseen and lay hold of the reward at the end of his life – the salvation of his soul.
What about us? What is Christ asking of us? He is asking us to do the same – we are not to serve two masters, but to serve Christ and Christ alone. Below are a couple of passages that illustrate this point. We are to count the cost, because it is either Him or self in our personal pursuits, whatever those might be.
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:25-33).
God is calling us to a radical life of service to Him as our Master. As I said at the beginning of this message, there is such huge importance in realizing that God is our Father, and we are His children. God will take care of us and provide for all of our needs as He sees fit. But the temptation to hold onto earthly things weighs heavy on us and tempts us to trust our riches instead of our heavenly Father. In the passages of Scripture quoted above, we see an incredible call to serve our Father, as His children and as His disciples. There are some pretty strong statements in these passages; if you don’t hate your father and mother, etc., you cannot be My disciple. This call is radical in that we are called to give up ourselves completely and to place our complete trust in our Father and to follow Him. We are called to deny ourselves, which means that self no longer has any rights. We are called to take up our cross, which means that we are to take the same path Jesus took, being willing to lay down our lives for His sake and His gospel. And we are called to follow Him. We are called to imitate Jesus in all that He did and to follow His example. Jesus wants all of our heart. He desires that we have an intimate relationship with the Father as He does. We cannot serve God and the riches on this earth; it just does not work. One is either despised or hated, while the other one is loved and followed. Whichever one you serve is the one that is your master. If it is riches, those riches are your master, and they have control over you. If it is the Father, He is your Master, and He has control over you. Who are you serving?
Conclusion and Application
(1) In conclusion, I want you to realize that God is not condemning us for being wealthy or rich. The question is, “Are you serving those things and committing idolatry by having them be your god?” Money is not bad; it is the love of money that is the root of evil. “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Timothy 6:10).
Command those that are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on to eternal life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
The example of Demas comes to mind: “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica …” (2 Timothy 4:9-10).
(2) The temptation to lay up treasures is a real temptation that we all face from youth to adulthood. I was in Chicago recently, and many times throughout the weekend, I thought, “Man, if I only had a little more money, I could do this,” or “I could have a house on Lake Michigan,” or “I could own that sweet car.” We were down on Rush Street and looked into this Bentley store with all kinds of elaborate cars from red and yellow Ferraris to Aston Martins to Porsche 911’s to Bentleys. I thought to myself that it would be so awesome to drive one of those things home; what would people think of me then? The temptation is real, and it is not just in things like cars and big houses; it comes down to clothes, and X-box gaming consoles, and jewelry, family, power, popularity, hypocrisy etc. This temptation is real, and we need to put on the whole armor of God to combat it. Our enemy wants nothing more than to distract us with these temporal pleasures and things of this world so that we do not have an intimate relationship with our Father.
(3) Where is your treasure? I ask the youth students this each week. I don’t know where your heart is or what your heart is longing for or serving. Only two people know that, you and God. I know that if you are serving yourself by storing up wealth or popularity or whatever it may be, that will come to an end. It is only temporary. But if you are serving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will not be disappointed. There is an inheritance waiting for you when you go to be with the Lord. I am calling us to repent of those things and to change our minds and our behaviors. I am calling us to repent on a daily basis, as this is a continual battle we face day in and day out. We have seen the power of the gospel and repented; that must continue every day. We must see the grace of the gospel in our daily lives and its effects day in and day out. We must live by that grace, through faith, in what is to come.
I conclude with an excerpt from the story of a missionary woman who has been a huge encouragement to me, when I read it. Darlene Deibler Rose lost everything but gained so much more.
“Mrs. Joustra came to our barracks and asked if she could talk to me [Darlene Deibler Rose] for a few minutes… “I came to tell you that your husband in Pare Pare has been very ill… .When I saw her eyes fill with tears, I grabbed her shoulders and cried, ‘Oh, Mrs. Joustra! You don’t mean he’s gone!’ ‘Yes’, she said. ‘Some three months ago he died in the camp in Pare Pare.’ I was stunned – Russell is dead. He’d been dead three months already! It was one of those moments when I felt that the Lord had left me; He had forsaken me. My whole world fell apart. I walked away from Mrs. Joustra. In my anguish of soul, I looked up. My Lord was there, and I cried out, ‘But God…!’ Immediately He answered, ‘My child, did I not say that when thou passest through the waters I would be with thee, and through the floods, they would not overflow thee?’”
Here is a woman who lost everything, including her husband. She was in a prison camp during World War II, yet she found God faithful in all of this. She found that giving her life to Jesus Christ was of far greater value than anything she could obtain here on earth, and through these awful, dreadful years, God used this woman in a mighty way amongst the other prisoners of war, as well as with her so-called enemies that were holding her captive. As Jim Elliot wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Where is your treasure? How is your vision? And who are you serving? I pray that you are serving the Father and Him alone.