Of all the social issues that Jesus could have spent his ministry speaking about, Jesus spoke about wealth the most. He spoke more about wealth than about marriage, politics, work, sexual immorality, or power. This indicates to us that wealth is a problem that stands in the way of true righteousness. God created us to be treasure seekers but the problem is that we are often pursuing the wrong treasure. Jesus addresses this issue to correct us so that we can belong to his kingdom and be true disciples.
Two Treasures (6:19-21)
Jesus begins with a simple command: Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth. So does this mean that we cannot have any possessions? Does this mean that we cannot possess any excess at all? While some may be tempted to move this direction with the teaching, it does not fit the pictures that we see of righteous people in the scriptures who were blessed by God with wealth. We do not see the condemnation of simply owning possessions in this verse, though we are warned in the scriptures that these things can steal our hearts from God. Rather it is the pursuit of possessions that is an even greater danger. Do not accumulate possessions for yourself. It is the accumulation process that is the even greater warning. Notice that this is the contrast that is given to us in this command. Do not lay up, store up, and accumulate treasures on earth but lay up, store up, and accumulate treasures in heaven. Do not make treasures on earth your treasure. Make treasures in heaven your treasure. So Jesus is challenging our hearts by looking at our lives. Does it look like we are treasuring treasures in heaven or treasuring treasures on earth? Are we accumulating for ourselves treasures in heaven or treasures on earth?
Now Jesus gives us reasons why we must not accumulate for ourselves treasures on earth. The first reason is because everything that we accumulate for ourselves on earth does not last. You all still own your first car, right? You all still own and use your first smart phone, right? You still own and wear your clothes from college, right? Why not? We understand the problem. All of these things get old, wear down, break, and do not work like they used to. Do not treasure earthly treasures because these things are useless and do not possess lasting value. They are temporary. They wear out. They cannot satisfy because they are not lasting. By contrast, the treasures of heaven are permanent and lasting. They cannot wear out. It does not take much for us to understand this but it requires us to think about this truth. Consider, when you die, how important will your accumulated wealth matter? What value will all your wealth and possession have for you when you die? This is what Jesus is doing is trying to put these things in proper perspective. Treasure heavenly treasures because those are the only lasting treasures.
The problem is that greed is subtle. Everyone thinks that what they are doing with wealth is necessary. No one believes they are accumulating wealth. No one thinks they are laying up treasures for themselves on earth. No one thinks they are materialistic. We think others are materialistic but certainly not us! It is amazing how easily these things capture our hearts and minds. So this command requires some real honesty with ourselves. Notice that Jesus does not give an amount. Jesus does not say that if you have more than 6 days or 6 months of food or wealth that you are storing up treasures on earth. This really is a question of the heart. What do you love? What do you prize? What do you desire? Do you desire eternal riches or earthly riches?
This is the point of verse 21. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What happens to our treasure happens to us. What we treasure is where our total person and being will be. This is the mirror into our hearts. We can carry on the charade of faithfully going to church while having our heart on earthly treasures. The location of our treasure indicates where the heart is already at.
Notice again that Jesus does not say that the possessions are the problem. The problem is your heart is chasing after and trying to accumulate these things. So let us honestly examine our hearts by considering some questions to determine if we are treasuring the treasures of earth or of heaven. What do we worry about: spiritual things or wealth and possessions? What occupies our thoughts and desires? What do we dread losing? What do we measure others by? What can we not be happy without? Jesus tells us that the reason we must truly consider these things is because whatever controls our heart is what controls our behavior. The thing that you treasure will control you.
Two Eyes (6:22-23)
Now it is easy to read verse 22 and think that Jesus has changed the subject in his sermon. But if we carefully look at the context we will notice that he has not left the discussion of treasures in heaven because in verse 24 he will continue to warn about serving God or serving money. So what is the point Jesus is making when he tells us to consider our eyes? First, Jesus begins with a statement. “The eye is the lamp of the body.” Jesus continues that when your eye is healthy, then your whole body will receive light. But if your eye is bad, then your whole body will be full of darkness. It is truly a simple image. What are you looking at in life? What is your eye set on? What is your focus? The way we look at wealth is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition. Wealth is not to be hoarded and accumulated. It is a blessing from God. Do we see what we have as a blessing from God to enjoy and use? Do we see what we have as God’s blessing to enjoy with our family? Do we see what we have as God’s blessing to advance the work of God’s kingdom? The condition of the eye determines if our body is receiving light or darkness. What is the condition of the eyes of our heart? What is blocking our spiritual vision? You see that Jesus is telling us that if we are continuing to look at money and possessions then this problem cannot be fixed. What you are staring at is what is going to affect your heart. It is like thinking that we are going to stare at Halloween candy and not eat a few pieces. What we look at affects our hearts. This is why lust corrupts the heart. Wealth corrupts the heart. Envy and jealousy corrupt the heart. Rivalry corrupts the heart. To address our problem we must stop looking at these things and setting our hearts on these things.
Two Masters (6:24)
Therefore Jesus gives us this truth that we must accept and believe. “No one can serve two masters.” We think we can but we cannot. It is impossible for a divided heart to serve a master properly. Either I am putting my hope in and seek after the treasures of this earth for my joy and satisfaction or I am putting my hope in and seek after God for my joy and satisfaction. We cannot be a full and faithful slave to both. Either we are serving God over self or we are serving self over God. There is not another option. The things of this world are rivals to the love of God. Money is one of the greatest rivals of God’s love because we look to money to bring us security, peace, happiness, and hope rather than God. A Christian is a person who turns from idols to serve the living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
I want us to think about what Jesus is teaching. We cannot store up treasures in both places. Your devotion is either with God and his pursuits or it is with self and your own pursuits. We cannot serve God and also serve something else or someone else. Only one person can be on the throne of our hearts. It is either God on the throne of our heart or it is myself that is on the throne. They cannot coexist. This is why Jesus said that we had to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him. I cannot rule my life and think that I am letting God rule my life. I cannot store up the treasures of earth for myself and think that I have stores up the treasures of heaven for myself also. We must choose this day who we will serve. One of the verses from a song we often sing in worship reminds us of this truth. From the song Trust and Obey, a verse begins, “But we never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay.” How true this is! We have not begin to enjoy the delights of God’s love if we have not sacrificed our worldly pursuits.
Jesus calls for true disciples to truly be honest with themselves and consider where they have accumulated treasures. One way we can know is by looking at our hearts. “Where our treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So what do you look at? What do you desire? What do you trust in? What do you hope for? What is your goal in life? What are you striving for?
Jesus presents a choice between two ways of life. There are two treasures. Will we store treasures on earth or in heaven? There are two eyes. Will our eyes be light or be dark? There are two masters. Will we serve God or serve money?