Two Kinds of Treasure
Passage: Matthew 6:19–6:24
Open your bibles with me to Matthew Chapter 6, verses 19-24.
If there is a topic we need gospel-clarity on it is our money and our possessions. I read an article in the LA Times this week that featured Dr. Regina Clark, a Board Certified Professional Organizer. Man, I need one of those! Dr. Clark estimates the average American household has 300,000 possessions. You're surveying all of your stuff: "Do I have 300,000 things?" From paper clips to old T-shirts, and that remote control that's hidden in the cushion of the couch that you'll never see again, you probably do. We have a ton of stuff.
And I would like to share some of the blame in the Boswell house with our kids. They inflate our number with their Pokemon collection, and Shopkins. My goodness, those things multiply. And stuffed animals - look, if you have stuffed animals in your house, that is a waste of space. That's what I try to tell my kids. But there they are, filling up an entire closet, by the way. Many of us have so much stuff we can’t park our cars in our garages because we need them now for things. And by the way, the average size garage today is the same size as the average house size in the mid-20th century. We've got a ton of stuff.
Sometimes we like to think about our possessions by asking fun questions like, “If your house is burning down and you only had time to grab one thing, what would you grab?” I hope your kids are in that equation. But it used to be the family photos, before we stored those in the cloud, or Grandma’s china.
Or do you remember this one? We asked this in our church youth group. “If you are stranded on a deserted island, and you could only take one thing, what would it be?” Okay, this is a trick question, because you're in church youth group, so there's only one right answer for that: the Bible. You have to say the Bible, or everyone will know you're a sinner.
I wish I could've just said, "I want a big screen with satellite." So I could watch ESPN and also watch Christian television. No, yeah. "The Bible" is the appropriate answer there. These questions are supposed to diagnose what matters most to us. Or you might say these kind of questions reveal our greatest treasure. What is your greatest treasure?
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus addresses this very question. Let's read together.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys 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. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let's pray. Lord, we're grateful that you speak to us. I pray that your word today would walk through our lives, bringing us truth and light. Adjust our sight so we can again see the beauty of Christ as the treasure that's greater than any treasure of the earth. And we confess our need for your help. So help us, we pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Before we get too far, I want to address some tensions in this text that Joe Rigney points out in his book entitled The Treasures of Earth. He compares different biblical emphasis on money and possessions to two texts that are written by the apostle Paul. And then what he does is pair them with two hymns that we've sung throughout church history. So you can see he's got my attention already, right? The Bible and hymns - this is a recipe for wonderfulness.
So on one hand in his letter to the Colossians, Paul says this. "Set your mind on things above, not on the things of earth." Well, that's the same sentiment that Helen Lemmel writes when she says,
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."
So that perspective says, the more we focus on Christ the more these things diminish in our view. Maybe that's how we're supposed to think about worldly possessions and money, that we fix our gaze on Jesus and these things don't really matter.
On the other hand, Paul says to his disciple Timothy, "For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it's received with thanksgiving. For it's made by the word of God and prayer." Okay, that sounds different, doesn't it? That doesn't sound like we're supposed to neglect the things of earth. That sounds like we're supposed to receive them with thanksgiving and steward them to the glory of God. That sounds like a hymn by Maltbie Babcock (which is a wonderful name) that you may know that says this:
"This is my Father's world; He shines in all that's fair.
In the rustling grass I hear him pass; He speaks to me everywhere."
Do you hear the different tone in these two texts that Paul writes? The same pen, the different people, different needs, different perspectives on money. To think about God and money and possessions is going to take careful thinking. Because in this room, and in seasons of my own life, some of us need to sing "This is my Father's world," and learn to enjoy and receive with thanksgiving the blessings that God has given you - hear this - without feeling guilty. But others of you need to sing "Turn your eyes upon Jesus," and "Lord, let the things of earth grow strangely dim," because we've made idols of our things.
So what I want to do is walk us through this text, and we're going to walk a well-worn path of sermon outlines. This one's been used many times that preachers have taken congregations down. A Tension of Twos. So we'll look first at two kinds of treasure, two kinds of vision, and two kinds of masters.
The first, let's look at two kinds of treasure. When we seek to store up treasure on earth, we lose a sense of the eternal. We have in us this wanting that can never be filled. You ever feel that? It's "I want, I want." It's when you go to the fridge and open it just after dinner and your wife says to you, "What are you doing?" "Oh, I don't know. I'm just wanting something and I don't know what it is."
Well, a few weeks ago we were at my parents' house in Wichita, Kansas and my parents, their grandparents, of course want to take them bowling and to an arcade. Never go to an arcade - the place is always humid, and it smells like feet. It's a terrible experience.
So there we are, the kids are spending all their grandparents' money on these little tickets so you can buy little trash - little pieces of plastic that are, within a week, in the bottom of the trash barrel. So we're trying to leave the place, and one of our twins is still pressed up against the glass there. They have all their treasures on display there that you can spend all of grandparents' money. And we need to leave. I'm not using her name because I told her I wouldn't, but her initials are Addison Boswell. And I go, "Hey, we gotta go." She's like, "Dad, I've got more tickets, and I want something, I just don't know what I want."
And I just feel the Holy Spirit go, "Hey Bub, that's you." You ever feel that? Oh my goodness, this little eight-year-old girl has taught me so much. We want something, we just don't know what we want. This comes from wanting in the wrong direction. It comes from focusing on the treasures of earth.
In verses 19-21 Jesus shows us the treasures of heaven and the treasures of earth. And he shows us there are two kinds of treasure: the earthly treasure which will fade away, and the heavenly treasure that will last forever.
And he illustrates his point by using relevant examples of how His hearers would measure their wealth in the day: clothes and precious metals. And He reminds them of how temporal these signs of wealth actually are, showing how quickly they can be gone. Rust and moth can destroy one's clothes. And thieves can steal your money, leaving you with nothing.
Now, in ancient Palestine, homes were built with mud brick. And so, literally, a thief with a pickaxe or shovel could come and dig his way into your home. And that's bad news, because a lot of people hid their treasures in the walls of their house, to disguise and hide them from thieves.
Of course, moths can easily eat through the finest of clothes, if not cared for. Jesus is speaking in a day before the mothballs your grandma has in her house. And Jesus shows them that the most precious possessions of earth will not last forever.
Now we might not collect precious gems, or store up ornate clothing in our closets. Specifically, you probably don't trade metals, unless you trade in the futures market for a living. But we're still prone to put our trust in our money. Many of us feverishly watch the markets, and at any sign of a course correction, we're freaking out, right? The end must be near.
And so we insure our money. Our bank accounts are protected by the FDIC. Our brokerage accounts are protected by CIPC. We insure our homes and our cars and our health and our teeth (dental insurance is a terrible deal, by the way). We do all of these things, which are good things, to try to protect what God has given us. But we must not HOPE in these things.
Jesus states the command in the negative and then in the positive. He says, instead of hoping in those things, store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven. So He lifts our eyes from the temporal to the eternal -- to the kingdom of God. The reason that Jesus doesn't want us to run after earthly treasure, is because it will not last. Ten out of ten people still die, and we do not take with us our 401k account; our real estate; none of it. It all stays behind.
So, rather then, the shiniest possession will fade with time. What was yesterday's treasure is tomorrow's trash. That's what Jesus is showing us -- that the treasures of earth will fade; but the treasures of Heaven will endure forever.
So what is eternal treasure then? Okay, if we're not supposed to invest solely in the things of the world, but also to invest in eternal treasure, then what is that?
Well, Jesus isn't really clear here what that is. But surely there are things that endure for eternity; things that we can't take with us here, but that do carry with us into the life to come. Your Holiness; your communion with God; souls won for Christ. Helping disciple other people; tithing; supporting missionaries; investing in the work of gospel advancement. These things go on with us forever.
And let me just remind us: The greatest treasures of Heaven, these investments we make into the eternal realm -- the greatest of them are not crowns we receive. The greatest are not streets filled with gold. The greatest treasure of Heaven is Christ Himself. And if He's not there, then the rest of it is just worthless. Jesus is our greatest treasure.
So we've seen what the Bible is saying here. But what is it Not saying? It isn't saying we shouldn't HAVE money, but that we shouldn't LOVE money. The Bible says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) At your workplace, that might get butchered all the time, to "Money is The root of all evil." That's not what Jesus is saying. Listen very carefully. This is another text: "The LOVE of money is A root of all kinds of evil." Money is amoral. It can be used for good, or used for bad.
So Jesus isn't saying that we shouldn't have things, but that our things shouldn't have us. The Bible makes it very clear that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights. (James 1:17) God loves to give good gifts to His kids.
So Paul helps us understand. I want you to turn to 1 Timothy chapter 6. We're going to look at verses 17-19. And as you notice, the audience that Paul is addressing are the rich. I don't care what your income is. Generally, we think of the rich as "people who make more than us." So how money is okay to have? "Well, how much *I* have. That's fine. If you have twice my income, well, that's too much. And if you have less, well, you should do better."
But Paul is addressing here the wealthy. Let me just put this in perspective. The average household income in the city of Frisco is $123,055. One hundred twenty-three thousand and fifty-five dollars. Now you might think, My income's much greater than that, so you're dragging me down. Or you might be thinking, I couldn't count to a hundred twenty-three thousand with a calculator.
I want us to look around the room real quick and just acknowledge, I don't care what your W-2 says (which I hope you filed this week, or got an extension). We are a wealthy people. Paul is speaking to us. Listen to what he says, 1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 As for the rich (that is you) in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
The more time I've spent with this text, the more I realize that in 30 minutes I cannot preach this sermon to you. So really quickly, I'm going to preach a sermon within a sermon. Like a dream within a dream. And here it is. It has six points of application. So if you're taking notes, hear this other sermon from 1 Timothy 6. Let's just walk straight through it.
Verse 17, in this present age, to you the wealthy,
Number 1: Don't be haughty. Charge them not to be haughty. That's what I'm doing to you right now; I'm charging you -- don't be haughty with your riches. Don't be prideful. Don't boast in your riches.
Number 2: Don't set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches. You see that?
Point 3: Hope in God. Don't hope in these temporal things. Hope in the eternal.
Point 4: Enjoy the gifts God gives. Now if that surprises you that God would say that to us, you've not understood the giving nature of our Father. He's given us these things to enjoy. Not to have a latent guilt that is pent up within us on the things. Okay? It's not a sin to enjoy a gift given from the Lord. I got a new riding lawnmower a few weeks ago. And I enjoy the Lord as I'm out driving, having dominion over the world. I'm enjoying that. I'm not ashamed of that. It is green! It has a deer on the front of it. I LOVE it! But not too much. Don't hope in these things, but instead,
Point 5: Be rich in good works. Be rich in good works. You want to be wealthy? Do good things for people.
Point 6: Be generous, storing up Heavenly treasure. Be generous, you wealthy people. You should be tithing. It's very easy at your net worth, your income status, for you to tithe. It's much harder for the poor to tithe. Yet, they do it. You should be tithing. You should be giving to gospel advancement and to missions. All for the sake of storing up Heavenly treasure.
Okay, and now we're right back where we started, aren't we? Living for Heaven treasure; storing up Heavenly treasure. Don't be haughty, but be humble. Don't set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches. Hope in God. Enjoy the things He's given us. Be rich in good works, and be generous.
The missionary poet named C.T. Studd said it like this:
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ will last."
But to do this, we have to lead our hearts. That's what Jesus is saying in verse 21. Turn back to Matthew. We have to lead our hearts in this. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Where are you investing your life? Mumford and Sons say the same thing when they sing, where you invest your love, there you invest your life.
Jesus is not afraid to talk about money, and neither should we be. He talked about money more than Heaven and hell combined, Randy Alcorn teaches us. Because Jesus knows that our bank accounts reveal our loves. Your bank account tells your heart where to go. My bank account reveals that I love Chipotle, and that I should love it less. Your bank account tells your heart where to go.
Let me just tell you, when we were praying about moving to Collin County, I started asking God this question, kind of just dreaming through this lens: "What would it look like if we could wield the wealth of Collin County for the sake of unreached peoples?" That's the prayer. That's the dream; that's the question.
What would it look like if we left Fort Worth, the greatest city in the world, and moved to Collin County? What could God do? What could God do with all of the wealth that is here in this county? To wield it, to use it, to steward it, to stream it, for the sake of unreached peoples? That's why I came here. That's why we jumped in: to see that happen. I'm still praying this. We are the wealthy of the wealthy. What are we doing with it?
All right, so how do we think clearly about money? I think John Wesley is very helpful in this. He says this: Earn as much as you can, save as much as you can, invest as much as you can, give as much as you can. So listen to the old man today; he really helps us there.
There are two kinds of treasure. There are also two kinds of vision. You can see it in verse 22-23. So now that we've seen Jesus' main point, He now uses two metaphors to further explain. The first is the metaphor of the eye, and the second is the metaphor of the servant. And in both of these, he shows the importance of God being our ultimate treasure; of us being a single-focused people on the glory of God.
The two kinds of vision Jesus teaches of are Clear vision and Cloudy vision. So when Jesus says that "the eye is the lamp of the body," the eye is like a window that light passes through, into the body. Think of your own windows. If the windows are clean, lots of light comes in. But if they're dirty, the house appears darker. The cleaner the window, the brighter the room.
So, the cleaner the eye, the brighter the soul. Jesus is wanting us to see that the kind of vision He wants for His people is a vision that is focused on the kingdom of God. Our focus is critical, because where you look, you will go. Do you remember this from Driver's Ed? What do they tell you? They tell you not to focus on the street lines, or on the oncoming traffic, but to focus on where you're going. Why? Because if you focus on the street line, you're never gonna find it, and you're always wobbling around. And if you focus on oncoming traffic, you will die! That's what they told me.
Many of us are driving through life with our eyes set on the wrong thing. We're obsessed with the oncoming traffic of retirement, the oncoming traffic of quarterly bonuses, with the street lines of house remodeling. So quickly our affections get misaligned. And Jesus is trying to lift our gaze to see clearly. It's not that those things don't matter. But listen, what you're doing to your house right now? One, you're gonna sell that house in 3.2 years (that's what the statistics say); and so you won't care any more.
So Jesus is not saying that those things are not important. He's saying they're not ultimately important. He wants to set our focus on the King and the Kingdom.
Well, what is cloudy vision? It's the opposite of clear vision. It's the darkness described there in verse 23 -- He's describing a person who has no light in his eye, so that the soul is dark.
Have you ever tried to walk around with your eyes closed? My kids play this game called, "Dead man, dead man, come alive." They're on the trampoline. One person lays down and the other kids say this chant, and then they say, "Come alive." And you jump up, and your eyes are closed. And when you're ten, you can walk around a trampoline with your eyes closed, with ease. But when you're 37, it makes you nauseous. And I have no idea how a 4-year-old kid can escape me. It's only like 10 feet in diameter, but I can't get him. I think it's because I'm just trying not to throw up. And so, darkness. There's no light in my eye. It's totally dark.
Jesus is saying, that's how a lot of us walk through life. There's no light in our eyes, so the soul is darkened. There's no clarity of vision; we're just cloudy. Now if you're a Christian, that cloudiness comes by treasuring the things of earth more than we should. But if you're listening to the words of Jesus today, and you're not a Christian, the Bible says that you literally are walking in darkness. You say, Well, these things are interesting to me, but I have a hard time really understanding what Jesus is saying. That's because your eyes are still darkened toward the truth. If that's you, the Bible says that you're lost in sin. Literally, you cannot find the way.
So the next step is just to pray that God would be a light to you, that He would reveal Himself to you; that He would open the eyes of your heart so that you could see Him.
There's a whole lot of people in this room who would love to have that conversation with you. So if that's you today, and you feel this kind of tug in your heart, and you say, I'm blind. I can see, but it's like I'm on that trampoline; I can't see where I'm going. I invite you just to grab somebody before you leave today and tell them, Hey, I don't think I'm a Christian. Would you help me? I can't see truth, and I feel like I need to. Can you help me with that? We have clear or cloudy vision.
The final thing is that we two kinds of masters. Two kinds of masters in this text. This section here describes one master being God, and one master being money. And make no mistake, we cannot worship God and Money. We must love one and hate the other.
So what's happening here? Is it that we despise our riches and our things? No, Jesus is using an idiom -- it's a way to say things, a turn of phrase to express a much deeper meaning. And Jesus is using an old idiom here, comparing two kinds of loves. It's like he says, If you want to love me, you have to hate your mother and father. No, Jesus doesn't want you to hate mom and dad. But it's that our love for God is so intense, it looks like we hate these other things. So Jesus is saying, you have to love Me so much that it looks like you hate wealth. Or else, you will love money so much it looks like you hate God.
The order of these loves is critical, and you cannot serve both. So when you read the word "serve" in the Greek, it's this word that actually means to be a slave of. To be a servant, a slave. In the New Testament the word is often used as the word for "worship." Jesus is saying that You cannot worship God and money. There is no in-between.
There is a story in the Gospel of Mark about Jesus meeting this young rich guy. And He's on his way to Jerusalem when this guy runs up to Jesus and he kneels down and says, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Now, if you're a Christian, you've been praying that day would come -- like, this is the jackpot; someone's gonna come to Christ today! And you're gonna be a part of it.
But this is what Jesus says to him. He says, if you want to inherit eternal life, you have to keep the law. Jesus is trying to find a way into this guy's heart to see where he's at. He says, "Oh, keep the law. I've done that my whole life. I'm really great at keeping the law."
And Jesus says, Well, okay, then sell all you have and give it to the poor, and come and follow me. And one of the Gospels says that Jesus looked at this guy, and loved him. That His heart was moving toward this guy. And the rich young guy hears this command of Christ, and it says that he was dismayed; he was distraught, because his possessions were so great. You cannot serve two masters. And the young rich man decided he would worship his things rather than worship the King.
As we've spent time in this text, I wish we could've spent more time. Everything's not been covered; everything's not been said. I hope you've been thinking carefully, and that you have questions you want to wrestle through with somebody. That's the reason we have community groups. If you're married, that's the reason God gave you a spouse -- not to just have these sermons stay in these four walls, but for them to move out and into our lives. So we haven't covered it all.
But as we've sat with those disciples, drawn up on the mountainside, I hope we've heard from our Teacher. I hope the word of God has worked through your heart, bringing you to life and to a sense of clarity on what we're to do with earthly treasures, and how we're to pursue Heavenly treasures, and the sense of stewardship and generosity that the Bible's calling us to in this text. I know that the words of Jesus can rub against our culture. And I know that the words of Jesus can rub against our hearts. That's where the life is found. When we feel that, that's the light penetrating the darkness. That's Jesus taking the dirt and the debris of our eyes and washing it, so that the light makes its way into our souls.
So if you need to sing,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Then I pray that God would give you a fresh vision of His kingdom, and the courage to live for eternity.
But if you need to sing,
This is my Father's world,
And He speaks to me everywhere,
Then I want to invite you to count your blessings; name them one by one. And allow these blessings that God has given you to be kindling for the fires of worship in your heart. To be good thinkers of what He's entrusted us with; to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us with.
More than anything, my prayer from this text is that we would leave this place having once again set our gaze upon the glory of Christ, and reminded one another that He is the greatest treasure. Let's pray.
How rich a treasure we possess in Jesus Christ our Lord;
His blood our ransom and defense; His glory our reward
The sum of all created things is worthless in compare
For our inheritance is Him whose praise angels declare.
Lord, our eyes are often cloudy and fixed on temporal things. We want in the wrong direction. And we're asking You, by Your mercy, that You would put within us a hunger for the things of the kingdom that's stronger than the things of the world. We're asking You to set our gaze upon the eternal things -- not that we would lose sight of the temporal, but that we'd see them in their rightful place. And in a culture that idolizes materialism, and everyone's on this quest to die with the most toys, let the people of Providence Church be markedly different: hoping in You; investing our life; leveraging all the gifts and skills that are represented in this room. All for Your glory. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.