Where Is Your Treasure?
Scripture: Matthew 6:19-24
We have all met people who have been concerned with material things, but not spiritual things. For many, it is almost as if spiritual things are not as important as what they can physically see, touch, or smell. Unfortunately, even one person who thinks like this is one too many. Some of us have undoubtedly heard someone say that a particular person is "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good." While spiritual things are to be practical, this sets up a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the physical. The idea, at least in many cases, is that, if a person is not practical for the physical things, then this person must not be practical at all. Others may mean something along the lines of "such and such is not making his or her theology practical." This is, of course, a fair critique if someone's theology is not relating to their practical lives. That is, if they are not living what they read in Scripture. However, it is a bad critique if the person is living for eternity, but is not making someone with an earthly mindset happy. This is what Jesus critiques here. The idea of being heavenly minded applies in no stronger a way than to Jesus Christ. While heavenly mindedness is good, it always translates into the practical. The spiritual and the physical must work together, but the spiritual is ultimately more important.
In the passage we are looking at today, Jesus ties together the previous sections on giving, prayer, and fasting, as well as the next section on anxiety. Jesus is making a point that our focus should be on the spiritual rather than the physical. If we are always focusing on building bigger barns, but not on storing up treasures in heaven, then we have misplaced our priorities. What we strive after is where our hearts truly are. This was the problem with those who gave offerings, prayed, and even fasted in such a way as to get attention from others. They were not seeking God in their actions. Rather, they were seeking mankind's approval--and thus storing up treasure on earth rather than in heaven. This type of earthly storing up is prohibited for those of us who are disciples of Jesus. We cannot allow our focus to leave heaven in order to seek the things of the earth.
Jesus is also making a common sense appeal here. Jesus is making a clear point that what is stored up on earth will rust. If you want to receive praise from people, there will come a time when you offend someone and they will start to dislike you, or worse, start to hate you. You cannot please people forever. In the same way, the person who stores up physical goods is only storing up something that is perishable. He or she is not storing up anything eternal. As a result, the things that this person stores up will perish. It doesn't matter whether this happens before a person dies or after. It cannot last forever. On the other hand, what you store up in heaven is not subject to rust, ruin, or eradication. Those things that are stored up in heaven will last forever, and there is nothing anyone else can do about it. Where you store your treasure is an indication of where your heart truly is.
When Jesus speaks about the eye being the lamp of the body, he is speaking about more than simply what we look at, although this is important. Rather, Jesus is also talking about where our focus is. If we are focused on things that are contrary to God's will, it should not surprise us when we start to invest in things that do not honor God. We should be careful with what we physically see, but also with where we are looking spiritually.
Finally, Jesus makes the point that he has been building up to. He makes it clear that no one can serve two masters. Jesus uses the example of God and money, but it is possible for this to be extended to other things. If we are serving God, then we will not serve anyone or anything contrary to God's will. If we choose to serve those things, we cease to serve God. We must make a choice: either we will serve God, or we will serve ourselves by accumulating the praise of people or physical commodities. We cannot have both. This is not to say that rich people cannot be disciples of Christ. It appears that some were during his earthly ministry. The issue at stake is not wealth itself, but putting ourselves into the service of wealth by making it a goal to amass a large amount of it. When riches become our goal, God is no longer the One we are looking to.
The big lesson we can learn from all of this is that we need to be extraordinarily careful about where we are orienting our lives. Are you and I, like the foolish person of Matthew 7:26-27, building our foundations on someone or something other than Christ? Or are we, like the wise builder, building on Christ so as to endure the storm? This is the question I think we have to ask ourselves both today and every other day.
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