Matthew 6:19-24, Getting our Hearts Centered On What Is Important:
General Idea: We all need various kinds of possessions in order to live, such as food, housing, transportation, clothing, and such. Jesus is not condemning personal possessions; rather, He is challenging the focus of our hearts. If we gave up everything, we would not be able to function in society, nor be a blessing to others. At the same time, we cannot have our hearts set on possessions; we need to trust in our God as Provider. God provides us with all we need; it is our responsibility to work, using our gifts and abilities, and not be lazy. Thus, when we live for possessions, and we set our minds on the accumulation of wealth and things, we miss opportunities and marks He has for us. Our hearts become divided. Our attention and devotion go to things that have no real meaning, that will rot away, while things of real, eternal value are ignored. The fleeting, controlling issues in our lives capture our Will and time, while the real work of the Church and our call sit unanswered and unaccomplished.
1.Do not store up treasures on earth: Possessions take a powerful toll on the human mind. They cause our focus to be distracted from our primary purpose and call, to glorify our Lord. Possessions cause corruption as they often lead people to do what is unscrupulous and depraved.
a. People in Jesus time would either bury their treasure in caves and under their houses so robbers could not find it. Yet, thieves could still look, find it, dig it out, and steal it. Some wealthy people put their valuables and money in the temple where no thief would dare to go. But, the invading, occupying armies would take it.
Some invested in the money changes, and various businesses and trade, which, like today, would close, go bankrupt, or be embezzled. Each of these became temporary. Clothing, which was a very expensive and valuable possession, would get moldy, rot, or be eaten by moths. The iron strongbox, where money was kept, would rust. The money would be lost as it rusted in the sand. And anything else of value would eventually rot.
i. Rust is a general term that refers to anything that can, and will corrode and decay, by rust, mildew, bugs, weather, wood rot, and anything destroyed by fire.
ii. The Jewish book, Tobit 4:7-10, speaks the same theme; perhaps Jesus is again challenging the Jewish leaders with their own teachings. Sometimes, just because we may know something, it does not mean we do something! Other Jewish teachers taught that if you were generous to others, God would help you. When we lay up treasures with God, they last for eternity, which is our home and world to come.
b.The love of money, temptations of gathering wealth, and the desire to be rich has led astray, and destroyed countless people over the centuries (1 Tim. 6:9-10)!
i. Later on, in Matthew, Jesus describes the difficulty of lovers of money entering the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19: 16-26). It is difficult, but not impossible. They have to overcome the desires that can easily enslave us! Be careful, for while wealth and riches are not evil in and of themselves, they usually will become our "god"!
ii. Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)!
iii. If your treasure is on earth, your heart will undergo many disappointments, and the storms of life will overwhelm you (Matt. 7:24-27; Heb. 10:32-39)! All of the things in life in which you find your primary joy are suddenly gone (Luke 12:33-34; 1 Tim. 6:17-19)! Then what will you do and feel?
2. How can we lay up treasures in heaven?
a.By becoming joint-heirs with Christ and put to use His spiritual blessings (Rom. 8:16-17; Eph. 1:13).
b. By being rich toward God, free from materialism and greed (Luke 12:13-21)
c. By seeing our money, our possessions, as tools that we have to bless others around us, as Jesus instructed the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21, and by listening to Paul's charge to Timothy.
d.If your treasure is in heaven, it is incorruptible, undefiled, and will not fade away; thus, your heart will not suffer such tremendous, devastating disappointments. God, through our faith, His grace, and His power, will take care of us.
e.The good eye looks to God, as our Master and Lord, seeking what is His Will (Matt. 6:33; Eph. 5:8-10), while the bad eye looks to the fleeting treasures of the world (Prov. 23:6-9; Matt. 20:15; Mark 7:22; Eph. 5:11-14).
f.Darkness refers to the loss of perspective of God as Sovereign, and Lord. This makes greed and self-interest become our 'lord'. Is our purpose in life governed with godly goals and direction, or darkness? This question will determine how we respond to this passage and to life! What kind of light do you let in and let out?
g.Paul called an envious person an idolater. He said to put to death covetousness, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).
3. You cannot serve two masters: When your attention is divided, you cannot be attentive to either one.
a.Slaves rarely had more than one owner. That would have been foolish, as their time, interests, and commitment would have been divided. When it did happen, it almost always meant disaster. Just as people try to work two jobs, although sometimes it is necessary for financial reasons, one's commitment will be divided. But, in our commitment to the Lord, He must be Lord, which means He is ruler over all. When we are seeking things outside of His parameters and precepts, especially with virtue and character, we will be dividing ourselves away from Christ.
b.When our focus is on possessions, they become our idol and we worship them (1 John 5:21). Our identity, and personification of who we are, becomes branded by what we have, and not who we are in Christ. When this happens, all of our Christian life will be affected. Those around us will get the wrong impression of Christ as He is reflected in a skewed way.
c.Master: By definition, master demands total loyalty. We cannot please two masters at the same time, especially with God (Ex. 34:14).
d.We have to choose whom we will serve, and be determined to keep our promise and commitment (Josh. 24:14-15; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5)!
i. Because money and things can easily become the priorities in our lives!
ii. The choice becomes whether we will worship the One True God, or be idolaters, following after false gods (Matt. 6:33)!
iii. Fear the LORD means to trust, serve, and worship Him.
iv. Mammon is the Aramaic word for possessions, acquired by wealth or riches (Luke 16: 9-11).
v. By gaining mastery over our Mammon, we will avoid lusts, temptations, and foolish decisions (1 Tim. 6:9-19). This will lay a good foundation now and in our eternity to come. You must make the decision. What do you really want?
When we do not obey the Light, all that we are and do will turn into darkness and strife! This will happen when we start to get so busy that we have no time for growth in Christ. Or, when pride and experiences take the place of our sanctification, our growth and maturity are placed on hold. This creates a spiritual vacuum that will collect all that is wrong and unworthy for our character and purpose to glorify Christ.
1.How do your appearance and your material goods affect the way others treat you? What about other Christians?
2.Have you had possessions that claimed your identity and devotion? How and why? What can you do to rid yourself of those false devotions?
3.Why is it important that Jesus challenge the focus of your heart? What is that focus?
4.What would happen spiritually, and with your relationships, if you did give up everything, all your material goods? Would you still be able to function in society, or be a blessing to others?
5.Possessions cause corruption by leading people to do what is unscrupulous and depraved. How is that so? Do you agree? Why, or why not?
6.Can you go though all of your possessions and tell which ones will rot, and will not apply to your Christian growth? How can that list motivate you to seek what is in verse 33?
7.How can possessions be used to point your life toward the positive, and help others? What is the balance between your possessions being bad, yet being used for good?
8.What are some of the things you can do to make sure that your heart is not set upon possessions; more exactly, how can you trust in our God as Provider?
9.God does provide for us with all that we need. So, what is our part in work, using our gifts and abilities and not being lazy? Or, can we just wait on the couch for our ship to come in?
10. Why does Jesus say it is difficult for lovers of money to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19: 16-26)?
11. What happens, or can happen, when you live for possessions and set your minds on the accumulation of wealth and things?
12. Have you seen others in your church or family whose minds and time have become divided because their attention and devotion are going to things that have no real meaning, and will rot away? What can be done for them, to set their hearts on the right path?
13. Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)! Make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. (Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character)
14. Why would someone be captured by what is fleeting and will rot, when they could have so much more in Christ?
15. If your treasure is on earth, your heart will undergo many disappointments, and the storms of life will overwhelm you. Why would this be true? What can you do to prevent such disappointments and hurt?
16. What kind of light do you let in? What kind of light do you let out? How does that light determine your direction in life?
17. When your attention is divided, you cannot be attentive to either one. How has this been true in your life?
18. How can your purpose in life be governed with godly goals and direction? How can you prevent darkness? These questions will determine how you respond to this passage and to life!
19. How can you lay up treasures in heaven? Can you create a mindset to be in tune to what is really important, versus what is fleeting and rotting?
20. How can you make this choice real, impacting, and lasting for you, your family, and your church? Whom will you serve, and will you be determined to keep your promise and commitment?