The Sermon on the ‘Amount’
We can divide life into 2 broad categories: the spiritual, and the material.
But the Lord Jesus never made that distinction. Matter of fact, He often taught that our attitude toward the material is a mark of your true spirituality.
v. 21 ‘Where your treasure is…’ Talk is cheap…put your money where your mouth is! This is the next point in Jesus’ sermon on the mount.
Ill.—Some guys attach their wallet to a belt loop with a chain. God connects our wallets to our heart.
In other words, Jesus can look at our checkbook for the last 30 days and tell where we are spiritually…not only by what we return to Him, but also by our stewardship of the rest of HIS money…the ‘things’ we place such importance upon. Material possessions are like a neon sign above our life!
Now, nowhere did our Lord magnify poverty. There’s nothing spiritual about being poor. And there’s nothing wrong w/ things in and of themselves.
1 Tim. 6:17
…the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
The important question is, do I own my possessions, or do they own me?
v. 32 Needs or greeds?
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Some things can be good or bad, depending upon how they are used. Examples:
Music—a gift of God, and can be used for positive, but Satan can take that same tool and use it for evil.
Sex—a gift of God, but out of bounds a major tool of sin.
Internet—can be used for good, or evil.
Understanding that money / things can be used for good or evil, let’s be aware of how the devil wants to use things to harm us…
Things can take a toll on:
1. Our heart—affections
v. 19 ‘lay not up’ = hording or stockpiling. Nothing wrong w/ having a savings or laying up an inheritance, those are actually good. It is talking about over indulgence, luxuriousness…things becoming the object of our life’s affection.
In Jesus’ day, wealth was found in 3 areas:
Christ is clearing up the common thinking that if you have a lot, it’s because God is blessing you, and if you don’t, you must not be right with Him. The same thing is taught in today’s prosperity gospel [name it and claim it / blab it and grab it / slot machine religion].
Truth is, more people have been ruined by prosperity than ruined by poverty. The church has always had more success w/ the ‘poor’ than the rich who feel they don’t need God.
Ill.—Dr. John Maxwell is one of the world’s top Christian experts on money. Back when he pastored in CA he had a man in his church who came to him w/ a financial problem. He said, “I used to make $200/wk. and I tithed my $20 faithfully. But now I’m making 10 times that…I’m having trouble turning loose of $200 tithe. It doesn’t seem fair, when most don’t have to give near that. What can I do?” Maxwell pulled him to his knees and said, “Let’s pray about it.” Then he prayed, “Lord, my brother here is having trouble obeying you. His problem started when you began blessing Him so much financially…Lord, I pray you’ll bring providentially circumstances into his life that will reduce his salary back to where it used to be, so he can once again obey you!” He jumped up and said, oh no, I can tithe, I can tithe!”
Things can easily have an impact on our heart…our affections.
v. 19 Things don’t last, they are very temporary. And if you were living for things, they can be gone in a moment.
Ill.—when the stock market crashed, beginning the great depression, people jumped out office windows to their deaths…it was all they were living for, and suddenly it was gone!
Things don’t last…and things don’t satisfy. Think about it…if money satisfies, how much does it take? “Just a little more!” No one preoccupied w/ money ever feels they have enough…it’s a treadmill, an endless cycle.
Ill.—wealthy farmer had thousands of acres in his county. Someone said, you must’ve set a goal long ago to own all the land in the county. He said, no, I never had that goal…all I’ve ever wanted to have is the land that was next to mine!
Notice now that Jesus doesn’t totally reject the desire to accumulate…He only “redirects” that desire.
v. 20 From an earthly realm to a heavenly realm! Just switch banks…move your accounts from the bank down the street to the bank up in heaven! That’s a real investment and it’s burglar proof, rust proof, decay proof, corrupt proof…that bank is invulnerable and impregnable…no need for FDIC, and the interest is out of this world!
Ill.—every time you drop your offering in the plate you can whisper to it silently, ‘see you in heaven.’ Every hour you invest in serving God will reap an eternity of reward. You cannot outgive God, and that applies here on earth, as well as in eternity!
Many of you will gave many hours for the banquet. But every minute of it is a treasure you’re putting away in the bank of heaven.
Just look at this nice building we have to worship in. Think about the many folks who gave and worked sacrificially to make it all happen…most of them gone now…but we are still reaping the rewards, and now they’ve joined their treasure in heaven, and as they look down and see souls still being saved and lives still being changed, they realize something about their investment from long ago--it’s STILL drawing interest!
v. 21 Jesus said our treasure affects our heart.
Matt. 19:21-22 This young man’s problem was not that he had great possessions, but that his possessions had him.
Our heart – affections…
Things also take their toll on:
2. Our mind—perceptions
v. 22-23 The eye is the window that lets the light in. The amount of light that comes in is dependent upon the condition or health of the eye.
Single = healthy. Evil = blurred.
It all depends on our vision / perception. Question is: are you spiritually minded or materially minded?
Clear vision means you are spiritually minded…seeing things in perspective, w/ eternal values in full view. But materially minded people have a blurred vision of what life is truly all about.
Things also take their toll on…
3. Our will—directions [decisions]
v. 24 Mammon = money or things.
“Serve” means to be a slave. And we all are ‘owned’ by someone or something. You may technically be your own boss…but you belong to someone, somewhere!
Ill.—man walked down street in Chicago wearing a sandwich board which read on the front, “I am a fool for Christ”. People walked by him and laughed, then looked back and saw the other side which read, “Whose fool are you?”
We all serve someone or something…and it’s a matter of our will.
Ill.—farmer’s cow had 2 calves, one solid and one spotted. He told his wife he felt led to raise them, and give the profit from 1 of them to the work of the Lord. She thought that was a great idea. She asked, which one? He said, “Doesn’t matter.” A few days later he came in and said, honey, I have bad news. What? The Lord’s calf died!
When times get tough, the Lord is the first one tossed out of the mix. It’s a conscious decision of the will, and it has a major impact upon the direction our lives take.
Remember Lot? He and his uncle Abraham began to accumulate wealth. One day their herdmen got into a scuffle w/ each other. Abraham suggested they split up, and Lot chose the well watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah.
His mistake was he said, ‘that’s a good place to raise cattle’…but he never thought about whether it was a good place to raise kids.
How many people get a job offer or promotion opportunity which requires a move, and they jump on it w/out ever looking into whether there’s a good church for their family there.
Lot moved to Sodom wealthy…a prince. But he left Sodom with nothing…a pauper. Everything he lived for was destroyed and gone in an instant.
We can fall in love w/ things and give them our heart. They will take their toll on our mind’s perceptions, and they will steer the direction of our will…and we may even leave this world as a prince, but we will enter the next world as a pauper.
You can’t store treasure in heaven if heaven is not your final destination. If you need to be saved, here’s how…
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