Store up Treasures in Heaven During Financially Tough Times

Title: Store up Treasures in Heaven during Financially Tough Times

Text: Matthew 6:19-24

Date: March 8th, 2009

You can’t help but hear a lot of news about the economic recession our country and the rest of the world is in right now. The news is all about how bad the economy is or is getting. You would think that the most important thing in the whole world is how the stock market is doing, or how the housing market is, or the level of the unemployment rate, or gasoline prices or any other indicator of the condition of the economy. From the way people are talking today you’d think that the worst thing in the world has happened – the economy has gone down! Now to be sure, I don’t want to minimize an important thing such as the economy. Jobs are important, keeping the prices of goods and services affordable is very important, the stock market is important too for many reasons, probably the most important is that so many people’s retirement accounts are tied to it, and other aspects of the economy are important too. But my point is that people seem obsessed with economic data and news. My observation of Americans specifically and other people in the world generally is that the economy is too important. What I mean is, while economic issues are important, they are all-important, they aren’t most important, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of everything. But from the conversations I hear and the news I see every day you would think that the economy was the most important earthly thing of all. And what that says about us as a people is that we have our priorities wrong; we have our value system out of kilter. We see things improperly; we aren’t viewing reality correctly when we elevate economic matters above other more important things. And that’s just the problem that the recession is bringing out to everyone who will take the time to observe and reflect on what is happening. Our present recession is exposing a flaw in the mentality and thinking of Americans and other people of the world. What the recession is revealing is that we all love money and material goods too much. I wish I could say that Christians are the exception, but I can’t. We too who call upon the name of Christ are caught up in the same warped values as the rest, I’m sorry to say. We too, like most other people, elevate money and material possessions and material well being above almost everything. But the sad truth is that we’ve been warned before about this, but we ignored the warning and just followed the crowd into materialism. None other than the Lord Jesus has warned us in his teachings found in the New Testament not to place money and material things above more important spiritual and ethical truths, but we’ve conveniently forgotten these teachings as we’ve pursued the material good life available in the modern world. But we are off track because we’ve failed to listen closely enough to Christ’s teachings about money and possessions that he presents so clearly. Well, let’s not continue in our error. Let’s stop and take the time to truly listen and learn from the teachings of Jesus on money and material goods. Let’s stop and get it right finally before it’s really too late. If this current economic recession does anything, let it be to get us Christians back to the truth about money and possessions. Let’s listen to Jesus instead of the evening news. Let’s turn to Matthew 6:19-24, “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. . . . 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.” Let’s look at three important truths.

First, don’t store up earthly treasures. Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Now almost everyone who has ever attended church or who is a Christian has heard this verse quoted many times. But ironically, hardly anyone pays any attention to it or follows its teachings. Instead, most Americans do the very opposite of what Jesus teaches. Instead of not storing up for ourselves treasures on earth, we are working hard to store up for ourselves treasures on earth. Isn’t that the whole point of investing? More people today have bought stocks than ever before. It’s easy. You can buy shares of any company stock on the Internet from the comfort of your home on your computer. I heard the other day someone comment that during the time of the Great Depression hardly anybody owned stocks except the wealthy. For the average person, stocks were out of their league financially. But today, a majority of Americans own stocks, either directly or indirectly through a retirement account mutual fund. Others invest in gold and silver, others own investment real estate, others bonds, or some still simply save through their local bank’s savings account. But my point is that the vast majority of people today do in fact store up for themselves treasures on earth, and during this current depression, a vast majority of people have lost money because the value of their investments have gone down. The fact is, on earth there is no sure, safe, guaranteed investment. Isn’t that what Jesus taught? Isn’t that what he means when he warns that moth and rust can destroy or thieves break in and steal? Isn’t he trying to say that no matter what form your earthly material value is in, it’s still vulnerable, it’s still at risk? This present recession is teaching us this important truth again. I heard the recent figure of one or two trillion dollars has been lost in the stock market so far as stock prices have dropped. The truth is, there is no safe haven, there is no security on earth for material value. That’s why Jesus is saying not to spend so much time investing materially when material value is so unstable. Now is Jesus saying that we should never invest for the future? Is Jesus teaching against retirement accounts and pension plans? Is Jesus against social security? Is it wrong to have a saving account in a local bank? No, he’s not teaching against saving or investing per se. He’s try to teach us not to put too much hope or put too much time, energy and effort into such activities because ultimately they can’t provide us with the security and safety we seek in life. What is your security in life? Your bank accounts. Your investments. Your properties. Your possessions? If it so, you are doing what Jesus said not to do; you are trusting too much in your earthly material status, which can’t ultimately provide the things they promise. The current recession is making this truth more clear to people every day.

Second, store up heavenly treasures. Matthew 6:20-21, “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.” First Jesus teaches us not to put too much stock in material earthly values during our life, next he teaches us what to do – put lots of stock in eternal spiritual and moral truths. He’s not saying don’t invest for the future, he’s just saying invest for your eternal future, with eternal truths that can’t be taken away by anything or anyone. He’s basically talking about the entire content of the Bible — the priority life truths that we are called by God to build our lives around. These are the things we are to invest in with our heart, mind and soul, not the temporary earthly material goods of this world that can be and will taken from us, if not before we die, then after we die. Actually Jesus teaches a lot about the dangers of material wealth and possessions, but we prosperous Americans conveniently ignore most of these teachings because they simply don’t agree with the American Dream. But now, as we enter into what is perhaps the greatest recession or even depression since the 1930s, many of the teachings of Jesus on money, materialism, wealth, property and possessions are becoming clear once again. The truth is, generally speaking, Americans have been becoming more and more materialistic and less and less spiritual. Instead of praying we are planning – usually planning how to get ahead or better ourselves financially or materially. Instead of studying the Bible we are studying some book on financial success or taking classes on business or some other means of gaining for ourselves a bigger piece of the material pie here on earth. This preoccupation with all things material and financial has led us to neglect the more important things in life such as God, marriage, family, church, morality, love, etc. Why are there so many divorces these days? Because priorities are changing for the worse. Why are there more and more bankruptcies happening today? Because of greed and undisciplined spending. Everyone wants to “have it all” and now. Jesus teaches us to be content in life with what we have, but discontentment fuels most of the advertising and marketing campaigns that attract people to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have. We need to return to the simple teachings of Jesus about seeking first the kingdom of God and righteousness. And what happens when we put God first? He provides all of our needs according to his riches in heaven. The recession is revealing where our hearts really are, and it’s not a pretty picture. For too long we have treasured earthly, material goods; that is where are heart has been. But Jesus, through the recession, is calling us to repent of our sin of greed and materialism and turn back to God. Put God first. Prioritize prayer. Trust and obey the Bible. Resist the temptation to pursue earthly wealth and treasures. Pursue trust and obedience to God before everything else.

Third, you can’t serve God and money. Matthew 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.” The old King James Version says, “You cannot serve both God and Mammon,” which is another word for money and the things it can buy, earthly and material wealth. The current recession is also bringing out the sad truth that most Americans do in fact serve money more than they serve God. Now at this point there may be those who are saying, “You’ve been pretty hard on us Americans. What would you have us do, simply live homeless without material possessions?” No. That’s not what Jesus is saying, nor is that what I’m teaching. I’m simply saying for far too long we Americans have gradually, little-by-little become more materialistic. Like the frog in the kettle, we don’t even notice how much we’ve changed. If you remember the story of the frog in the kettle, a frog was placed in a kettle of warm water, then the temperature was gradually increased until it eventually boiled with the frog in it. The frog didn’t jump out because he never even noticed that the temperature was increasing and so he didn’t jump out but just stayed there and boiled to death. We are like that frog in respect to materialism. As our nation has prospered little-by-little we allowed ourselves to become more and more materialistic in our values. Or in other words, material things and money have become too important to us. It’s ok for money and material goods to take a rightful place in each of our lives. After all, we must work, we must earn a living, we must eat, we must have housing, we must have transportation, we must use the resources of the earth for survival. But the problem of prosperity is that as we gain more things of the earth we want more. Instead of being content with what we have, what God has provided for us, we want bigger and better things. This leads to coveting and greed. Soon our whole existence revolves around securing more and better material goods. We neglect more important truths and commitments to pursue money and material possessions. Like a ship that has come unfastened from the dock, we are now a long way from shore. We need to learn the lessons the current recession is teaching us along with the teachings of Jesus. The lesson is this – stop serving created things and start serving the Creator. The created things that we are presently serving got us into the mess we are in as Americans. We are servants of debt, money, material possessions (in the form of homes, cars and other things for most people). We need to become servants of God and serve him first of all instead of serving materialistic things. We’ve gotten ourselves into a lot of bad habits, but now is the time to change during this economic downturn. Let’s let this recession be the turning point in our lives to obey Jesus and his teachings on priorities in life.

 

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2 Responses to “Store up Treasures in Heaven During Financially Tough Times”

  1. Ryan Says:

    Hi,

    Interesting post. I do agree with some of the ideas but I feel that there is only abundance. Poverty is a creation of the human mind.

    Shut off the news. The economy is fine. God doesn’t experience a bad economy; He is The Source of all wealth, The Source of all things seen and unseen, and there is no limit to God. He is Infinite. So poverty is an impossibility.

    The Universe abounds with abundance. Observe nature, the workings of God’s Word, and this is easily seen.

    God blessed us with the ultimate gift: the power to control our thoughts. If we think and feel poverty we will experience poverty. If we think and feel rich we will experience wealth.

    Wealth is freedom in green pants. It enables one to to more, have more, and be more. There is no limit to it. The mind of man has led us to believe in the fallacy of poverty. Wealthy people are able to help the poor through charity, they are able to tithe generously in appreciaton of all that God has given them, and they can multiply their presence as their money can be present where they can’t.

    Thanks for sharing your insight 🙂

    Ryan

  2. mrred Says:

    Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

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