“KEEPING YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT”

Standard

TEXT: MATTHEW 6:19-24

INTRODUCTION:

A husband and wife were attending a county fair where, for twenty dollars a person, a man was giving rides in an old airplane. The couple wanted to go up but they thought twenty dollars a person was too expensive so they tried to negotiate a lower price. “We’ll pay you twenty dollars for both of us,” they said to the pilot. “After all, we’ll both have to squeeze into that tiny cockpit that was built for only one person.”

The pilot refused to lower his fare, but he made a counter offer. He suggested, “Pay me the full price of twenty dollars each, and I’ll take you up. If you don’t say one word during the flight, I’ll give you all your money back.” The couple agreed and got into the plane.

Up they went and the pilot proceeded to perform every trick he knew, looping and whirling and flying upside down and lots more. Finally, when the plane had landed, the pilot said to the husband, “Congratulations! Here’s your money back; you didn’t say a single word.” To which the man replied, “Nope, but you almost got me when my wife fell out.”

When we think of sin and temptation typically the first two areas that come to mind are the temptations of lust and pride.  While those are really deadly there is another that may have wrought more damage for both men and women in our culture (and even in this room)–It’s not as obvious and blatant, in some ways it is easier to hide and, in our affluent culture, it has become more acceptable.

I’m speaking of materialism –It’s very similar to greed or envy, both of which are areas we are commanded in both the Old and New Testament, to avoid!

This message is not about tithing, or about how much our church needs your money –This is a message about what Jesus said our material possessions can do to us if not handled properly.

I read an interesting statistic a few months ago that said that researchers have determined that an average person spends up to 80% of his or her waking hours making money, spending money, or worrying about money.

I started in the ministry 2003–In all that time in the ministry, I’ve had people sit across a desk or table with tears in their eyes and say that they’ve committed adultery, or they’re addicted to something, or they stole money from their company…but I have never had a person brokenheartedly confess “I’m greedy.”

We tend to look at materialism and greed on kind of a sliding scale

We have problems pinning this particular down in our lives…For that reason, it’s almost become an acceptable sin for Christians…Perhaps that’s why it’s so deadly. But if you are going to make a careful study, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses this issue and again, elevates the standard for His followers.

In the passage that we have read, Jesus gave us some tests and questions to consider regarding our possessions or wealth.

1. WHERE DO YOU STORE YOUR TREASURES? (A HEART TEST)

–Mt. 6:19-21 – “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.”

A. The World’s Temporary Perspective

1 Tim. 6:6-9 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires
that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

It is amazing the way greed and materialism can consume us.

Illustration:

James Patterson and Peter Kin, The Day America Told the Truth, reveal how far people in the United  States are willing to go for money. They started with what 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 $2million, people responded they would do
these things for money:

  • (25%) Would abandon their entire family
  • (23%) Would become prostitutes for a week or more
  • (16%) Would give up their American citizenship
  • (16%) Would leave their spouses
  • (10%) Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
  • (7%) Would kill a stranger g.
  • (3%) Would put their children up for adoption

But Jesus warns 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.”

Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle, says that we’re infected with a cultural disease he’s called “affluenza”. Few months ago a number of people died all around the world because of the Influenza. Today influenza is no longer a threat, but “affluenza” is. Here are the symptoms of affluenza:

  • Desire for more and more, despite what we already have
  • Insatiable drive to be successful without ever experiencing contentment
  • Practice of consistently choosing career over family
  • Unchecked yearning for more possessions and wealth
  • Unwillingness to settle for less than the best of everything

That famous poet, Anonymous:  Possessions weigh me down in life; I never feel quite free. I wonder if I own my things, Or if my things own me?

What we accumulate on earth is definitely temporary…Jesus said:

  • Moths can eat it–In Jesus’ day, wealthy people considered their clothing as part of their treasure. Fine clothing was made out of wool and sewn together with golden thread. We all know how much moths like wool.
  • Rust can destroy it — The word translated here as “rust” literally means “an eating away”
  • Another marker of wealth in Jesus’ day was storehouses full of grain–Mice, rats, worms, and insects can destroy stored up grain
  • A third marker of wealth in Jesus’ day was material possessions–Since most homes were made out of mud and clay, it was easy for a thief to dig or break through the walls and steal anything valuable. Most people kept their valuables in the center of the house and sometimes buried under the floor.

B. The Christian’s Eternal Perspective

The question is:  How do you store up treasures in heaven? –Bill Hybel’s lists three important deposits in our heavenly bank account:

a. Deposit 1: Worship –“One joy-filled investment plan is the commitment to be a regular and passionate worshiper. 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.”

b. Deposit 2: Christ-like CharacterThe 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. This is expressed with crystal clarity in 1 Peter 3:8-9 with the words, ‘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.

c. Deposit 3: Expressions of GenerosityEvery 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!

I want to add one more deposit to that list – Deposit 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…”
When Jesus exhorts us not to lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth, He uses an interesting play upon words in the Greek.  “Lay up” translates the Greek word thesaurizo. Treasures translates the Greek word thesauros. These two words come from a common term from which we get our English word thesaurus–A thesaurus is a treasury of words.  So we might translate this phrase as, “do not treasure up treasures for yourselves on earth.”

2.  WHERE DO YOU FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION? (AN EYE TEST)

Mt. 6:22-23 – “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!”

Jesus chooses 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.  NA ANG LAHAT NG IYONG MGA TINATANGGAP SA PANGINOON AY NAKIKITA MONG OPORTUNIDAD UPANG MATANYAG ANG PANGINOON SA BUHAY MO.

How deceived we are if we think that we can know the truth of God apart from submitting to the will of God. What we need is a clear focus, a clear vision of Jesus Christ as our Lord.

It’s not just lust that starts with the eyes–It’s also when we see something that someone else has that we want—greed.

We need to put spiritual blinders on –Prov. 4:25 – Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  We need to focus on the light rather than the darkness, to set our vision toward Christ instead of things

  • Heb. 12:2a – Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…
  • Paul says to focus on what will last (2 Corinthians 4:18)–2 Cor. 4:18 – So we 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.

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. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. IT IS THE MAN WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT HE HAS BEEN BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING…

3.  WHOM DO YOU CHOOSE TO SERVE (A GRIP TEST)

–Mt. 6:24 – “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.”

Illustration:

Once upon a time a little boy was walking to Sunday School. His mother had given him two quarters – one for candy and the other for the offering. And wouldn’t you know, as he dawdled on his way, he tripped and fell.

One of the quarters in his chubby little hand slipped out, rolled down the sidewalk, fell over the
curb and went kerplunk into the sewer. The boy got up, looked up into heaven, and said, “Well, God, there goes your quarter!”

If it’s always God’s quarter that gets lost, then the fact is we’re serving money, which is idolatry.

In other words, we have no choice; we each serve one, and only one, master. We are either a slave to God, or a slave to our possessions.”

What are you holding onto with your hands?–How’s your grip?

  • Maybe on a personal level you’ve been in acquisition mode rather than a relinquishing mode your entire life.
  • Whatever owns you is what you will serve.
  • Someone: “Money is a wonderful servant, but a lousy master.”

Hold tightly to the things of God and loosely to the things of the world. YUNG MGA BAGAY NG PANGINOON YUN ANG MAS MAHALAGA…LAHAT NG BAGAY DITO LUMILIPAS, NAWAWALA, NGUNIT ANG SALITA NG DIYOS, ANG MGA BAGAY NG PANGINOON AY HINDI LUMILIPAS.

Martha S. Nicholson:

Let me hold lightly the things of this earth.
Transient treasures, what are they worth?
Moths can corrupt them, rust can decay,
All their bright beauty fades in a day.
Let me hold lightly temporal things,
I who am deathless, I who wear wings.
Let me hold fast, Lord, things of the skies,
Quicken my vision, open my eyes.
Show me Thy riches, glory and grace,
Boundless as time is, endless as space.
Let me hold lightly things that are mine
Lord, Thou dost give me all that is Thine’.

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…The important thing to remember is the principle of stewardship–God owns; we manage. You are to be a steward of what He entrusts to your care.

CONCLUSION:

Don’t misunderstand Christ’s words in our passage today. 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.

What is your priority? –Where is your heart? Maybe you need to say, “I am greedy.” Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

Dr. Raymond Ortlund, Jr.: “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.

CLOSING PRAYER:

One thought on ““KEEPING YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s