Opening Comments

A lot of what we’ve been discussing in this community series is about our distinctiveness; the practice of what being a disciple is, being salt and light in the world, in our homes, workplaces, schools and places of recreation, where there is consistency between what we profess and how we conduct ourselves, living in a manner that honours the Lord,

If we are Luke 9:23-27, Romans 12: 1 and 2 people we know the Christian life is a constant giving away of myself…it is self decreasing, that God may increase in me and through me…to be transformed into people through whom God’s mission is outworked

 

And part of that work is a re-setting of our values; what’s important to us, because it’s in the heart of man that our values are determined.

Now even though Jesus, and the word of God, are our reference for values, there is still the engagement of our will required, and to submit, that shapes and aligns our value system

 

If we consider the breadth of Jesus’ teaching we realise it is about kingdom transformation

…think about his interactions with the Pharisees and teachers of the law…the outside of the cup looks amazing but the inside…needs a little work…”clean the inside”, Jesus says and the “outside will be clean”

Jesus knew that kingdom transformation meant dealing with matters of the heart, how often do we see him in scripture doing that? Our Conduct, our attitudes, our ability to relate to others, the authenticity of our walk with Christ, are all determined by what’s going in our heart, ‘the inside of the “cup”

 

David’s words are pertinent here: “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Ps. 86). A heart without division, a heart that doesn’t want or crave for anyone or anything more than you. A heart Lord that is fully and exclusively yours and yours alone!

A  heart where my values, and what I value is centered on and around you.

 

 

In Matthew 6:19-24…read shortly…it’s the heart attitude, the epicenter of our value system Jesus is addressing. In this passage, Jesus’ teaching reinforces our attitude toward and our conduct with money and the material, it is a measure of our true spirituality, and discipleship

 

 

We live in a different day and culture, but, time and history have done nothing to diminish our…appetite for materialism. Can I suggest to you that materialism is most certainly a god (small g) of today, it is not necessarily an ostentatious thing, but is nonetheless something that pervades and influences our culture…and is a real and present challenge for Christians as we seek to live out the values of Christ

 

One author I read recently in his commentary on this matter: “the structures of this world which were intended to be our servants have instead become our masters and oppressors…all of this is a consequence of the fall…these ‘things’ have made themselves into gods and now demand our worship and absolute allegiance as objects of ultimate worth and value”[1]

 

…what or where, or who ultimately, is our true worth and value in?

 

In our passage today we see *that when our ultimate loyalty is toward something or someone other than God, its undivided loyalty. Jesus teaching is intended to set that order right, re-setting where our value lies, so he gives 3 sets of alternatives…2 treasures, 2 visions, 2 masters

 

(READ) Matt. 6:19-24 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  23 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!

24 “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.

 

2 Treasures

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

The word treasure literally means a storehouse for precious things, it is about an accumulation of stuff that is valuable…and it also allows for thoughts stored (or treasured up) in our minds

So Jesus presents 2 alternatives…firstly…

Treasure of the earth, which is temporal, has no lasting eternal value…moth, rust and thieves are all synonymous with the temporal…the moth ravages; it’s a devourer (like they tend to do to my cabbages at home!)…

 

Treasure in heaven is eternal

…means our storehouse of precious things has eternal value, value for God, for his mission, now and in the not-yet…all of which are unaffected by moths and rust and thieves

 

Whatever we have placed our highest value on, is evidence of the state of our hearts

 

Jesus goes on to give…2nd set of alternatives…

2 Visions

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  23 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!

 

 

Jesus speaks of 2 contrasting sets of eyes, 2 visions…metaphors for our perspective, how we view life, and what our influence is…

 

…in the first example a “body full of light” represents a life that finds its value in the things of God and God alone and is content with what God has provided and doesn’t ‘want’ for more

 

…David’s attitude is helpful here…

(READ Ps 16:2) “I said to the Lord you are my Lord: apart from you I have no good thing”

 

(READ 23:1) ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”

 

…by contrast, in the 2nd example, a body full of darkness finds security and personal significance not in God but in earthly treasure, worldly things…stuff!

 

In the spiritual, when our eyes are ‘good’, my heart is on course with God, I’m focused on things of kingdom value, focused on the matters that God is concerned with, our perspective is centered around Him…that is a body is full of light

Conversely when our perspective is clouded, and misguided, when our eyes are ‘bad’, my heart is not on course with God, we’ve lost, or are losing that God-perspective in life, and when we don’t have that, we are more vulnerable to sin, our value system has been compromised, we have rotten, stinking veges at the bottom of the bucket…we are spiritually blind…body is full of darkness

 

Having a body “full of light” and therefore “good eyes” is about having healthy spiritual vision, healthy spiritual ambition, having a heart focused on things that concern God… and values that align with God and his word

 

…Treasure on earth, treasure in heaven…Good eyes, bad eyes…

…the 3rd set of alternatives…main point

 

2 Masters

…God? OR Money?

24 “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.

 

Who or what – ultimately is the thing or the person – that is our Master? Notice that Jesus is speaking of extremes here, there is no grey area…this is a stark, option-less choice…there is no compromise

 

Supporting passages… (READ 1 Tim. 6:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17)

 

… Jesus said “hate the one….and love the other…be devoted to the one …and despise the other”

Whichever one is loved or there is devotion to, means the other one is hated and despised…You cannot serve both God and Money.

 

I want to suggest Jesus is saying the moment you give allegiance to something or someone other than me, when you place dependence on that thing more than me, when you love that thing more than me, your allegiance is divided and it’s no longer the exclusive devotion that God wants

…even a little money and a few material things can become a god

 

The Psalmist gives a sobering perspective on someone who has given their life over to material matters

(READ Ps. 49:16-20) Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendour of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendour will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper—they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

 

 

What should the relationship be between Christian faith and my financial ambitions?

The simplest answer is: our money, and financial ambitions are to be worked out in the context of our relationship with Christ and, the direction he’s heading us in. His mission for us determines our financial goals and ambitions. My money and my walk with Christ are mutually inclusive they are not separate compartments of my life.

Well, unless we’re of the mindset that, “God you can have all I have but don’t go near my money, that’s mine”…I surrender all…but there’s no way you’re getting any of my money!

 

For some it can be the toughest most difficult thing in life to part with.  Why is that? Security?

 

Trusting God with all we have and trusting him to provide gives him access to all we have, at the same time, otherwise our faith claim is inconsistent with our practice…You cannot serve both God and Money.

 

For many of us, we face the challenge of our happiness, personal significance, perhaps even our identity, being connected to our wealth, our possessions, and how well we’re doing financially…we worry about money, we worry about paying the next bill, making our mortgage payments…it becomes a compartment without us realising.

 

Here’s what I also know, worth noting here: The Prosperity message is…you do this for God he’ll give you this back…REALLY. What does God need us to do for him? All he wants is our obedience; he wants us to trust him.

 

Here’s what I think is implicit in this passage: you take care of the things that matter to me and I’ll take care of you. God says, I can provide, I do provide, I meet your needs, but, as I see them.

 

In none of what I’m saying am I suggesting we blatantly ignore financial matters and be reckless, be ignorant of needs and bury our heads in the sand of facing financial reality…we have a practical obligation to manage and steward our finances, but in a manner that honours God…

In fact let me quickly note some extremes…

…making provision for the future lacks faith

…that making a profit in business is sinful

…all wealthy people have made money their God

 

These 3 extremes can head down a path of sin and idolatry, but at the same time can also be invaluable resources for God, when the person of Jesus is the primary focus …

 

Take for example the guy Jesus addressed in Luke 12

…Jesus is not teaching that wealth is a bad thing, he said “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” he goes on to use a parable to explain what he means (read yourself) but his message was that the possessions and comfort pursued by the rich fool lead him to not only neglecting the pursuit of God, but poor use of the resources he’d been given[2]

 

It raises the question in our attitude to giving and our generosity toward others: If everything I have belongs to God anyway, how much would he have me keep for myself? The way we’re used to asking the question: how much of what I have does God want me to give?

 

(P)…what we have or will have is not ours; it has been entrusted to us by God…to be stewarded in a way that honours him, and that puts him first

 

In Luke 18 Jesus responds to the Rich Young Ruler with a test of his allegiance. He thinks he’s got the God-life sorted. He doesn’t commit adultery, doesn’t murder, steel, etc…and then Jesus hits him with a bombshell. You lack one thing! Go sell your possessions, give it away…THEN come follow me

Scripture says he reacts with sadness.  See Jesus had exposed the real him, the true self, where his values were

 

Jesus’ call on those who profess him as Lord, is to be unconditionally committed to him….to the point where we must reject anything that gets in the way of loving him and serving him…because that’s what the mission of God requires of us (See Matt. 10:34-39)

 

A healthy response to money/treasure

I  want to give you, what I believe are 3 primary purposes in the community of faith for money, wealth and possessions:[3]

  • Care for own whanau, family (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:8)
  • Care for those in need in the community of faith (Acts 4:32-36; Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-27; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; 6:7-10; Eph. 4:28)
  • The GC – supporting the spread of the good news of Jesus in the community, the nation, ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Phil. 4:14-19; 1 Tim. 5:17-18)

 

That’s the mission of Jesus for the church, the stuff we’re to be engaged in… I believe these 3 areas capture a biblically-healthy putting-God-first approach to our “treasure and money”

 

What’s in our hearts determines the sort of people, church we become, what’s in our heart’s determines our values, our priorities…we serve what we find our identity in

 

And ultimately the choice to be completely surrendered to God in these matters and in fact in life has a profound effect on our impact in the community…God wants our whole heart, mind, soul and strength…

 

Money and material things DO NOT define us…they have zero eternal significance. What defines us is our heart attitude to money and material things

 

Let’s discover again our personal significance in Jesus, let’s learn to trust him, more, let’s cast aside those things we know have taken the place of God to give him that rightful place as Lord of our lives…

Let’s develop an attitude of thanksgiving for what we have and for what God provides in deference for wanting more

 

TAKEAWAYS

  1. Assess our values
  2. Develop a God perspective
  3. Invest in the eternal
  4. Christ is our master not our money

[1] 44, Mustard Seed

[2] NIV App Com Luke, Pg 343

[3] NIV App Comm Matt, Pg 304