Tyler David teaches on true treasure using Matthew 6:19-21.
The subject of money is not discussed often in church. This is partly due to the fact churches and pastors have handled the subject so poorly. However, the main reason is because we all struggle with handling our finances in light of the Word of God.
You may handle your finances well according to some other standard; based on financial advice, or compared to other people. However, when it comes to how the Word of God dictates for us to handle our money, we all have a lot of room to grow.
We can’t let our struggle to obey God in this area keep us from talking about it. God takes how we use our money seriously and so must we.
Our money makes war for our hearts. It has a god-like ambition to master us and demand worship. It wants all of our allegiance and affection. When Jesus sees anything attempting to steal the hearts of His people, He goes to war with it. He bought our hearts with His blood and He’s not about to let anything, especially money, take our hearts from Him.
Pulling Away From The Conversation
Even though finances are this important and there’s so much at stake, you can already begin to feel yourself pull away, right?
Some of you are already thinking you don’t want to hear this. You’re thinking about your debt and how you’ve failed in your finances. You don’t want to hear what God has to say about it and feel the shame.
Others of you are making arguments as to why this sermon isn’t for you. You’re pretty competent with your money and possessions. You execute and manage your budget pretty well. You give to churches, charities, and missionaries. You’re already giving, so there’s nothing for you to really learn.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, I hope God would reveal to us the things we’re treasuring more than God. I hope we would experience the forgiveness of worshipping money through excess and hoarding. I hope God would begin to free us into levels of generosity that will bring levels of joy we never thought possible.
Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
If you want to see what your heart treasures, what you value, trust and put your delight in, then just follow your money.
Money has this unique ability to show how our hearts really are with God. Other scriptural commands are more general in nature, whether you obey them or not is more subjective. Colossians 3 commands us to have the Word of God dwell in us richly. You argue that you could read the Bible more, but nonetheless you read it. You’re obeying and not obeying. Luke 10 commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We could always love people better, but we do love people. There’s a grey area. With these more general commands our obedience is subjective. You can begin to cite intentions and circumstances, thinking you’re not doing too bad.
Money is altogether different. It’s more honest with us about our hearts than we want it to be. There’s not a lot of grey area. You have receipts staring you in the face. You have a number. No matter the circumstances or intentions, that number is what it is.
Those numbers aren’t just numbers. Your budget isn’t just a budget. It’s all points to what you actually value. The data of what you spend your money on is not just information for future earning trends. What we spend our money on tells us whether or not we actually treasure God.
You can read your Bible, pray and attend church consistently. Yet none of these reveal your heart toward God like money. There may be godly intentions behind some of your spending, but God ends up being a distant third, fourth or fifth in your life. You love Him, but He’s only one of the many things you love.
Hating One & Loving the Other
How can people who genuinely want to love God and experience His presence, love Him so little with our finances?
Money promises to be God. It promises us everything God does, except you can get it now and without faith. Money promises everything immediately and tangibly.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
You cannot serve God and money. Eventually you will drift towards one or the other.
Money is so appealing; it can get you any sin you want. We all have different sin struggles and idols we’re worshipping, but money can cater to any of them. Do you struggle with approval? Money can buy you whatever you need for people to think you’re cool. Do you struggle with control? Money can buy you the security and control you want. Do you struggle with comfort? Money can buy you the best of everything; vacations, restaurants, anything. How about power? Money can buy you the respect and influence you crave. It promises you all of this, you don’t need faith and you don’t have to wait.
We know from personal experience and the Word of God that these are lies.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19 (ESV)
Jesus called these lies treasures on earth. He knows they’re treasures. He’s not questioning that they’re alluring or enticing. He just calls them for what they are; they’re unreliable and unsatisfying. It’s only a matter of time before they let you down.
The things money can buy you will eventually leave you hopeless.
We know this. We’ve heard story after story of rich people saying how unhappy they still are. Happiness does not go hand-in-hand with money. Yet, it’s still so hard to give anything away.
Why are we so scared and hesitant to give things away?
We can’t stop treasuring things. We’re hard wired, by God, to treasure something, which is why after time you will either serve money or use money to serve God. But you can’t have one or the other.
True Treasure, Future Joy
Jesus was not rebuking us for wanting treasure or saying we shouldn’t spend money. He was challenging us to go after true treasure and to spend our money on the right things. He was challenging us to realize we think far too small with our money.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20 (ESV)
Jesus wants you to put your money toward something that has a higher return on investment.
Too often we view being generous as losing something, having to give something up. Yet, according to Jesus we’re going to lose those things eventually anyway. They’re not a gain, they can’t give you what you want, and they will fail you. When you die, you can’t take those things with you.
He wants to give us better treasure; what our hearts are made for.
He put a longing for eternity in our hearts that no treasure here on earth can ever fully satisfy.
In the New Testament, God motivates His people to give by reminding us of the future, of all His promises Jesus purchased for us on the cross. Jesus died for our sin and gave us God’s favor forever. All of God’s promises are in Christ. Now we know for sure that the future He purchased for us will happen. God’s future promises are the motivation for our generosity.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Luke 12:32-33 (ESV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
God motivates us by saying our generosity will make sense when we see the treasures we get in the next life. Generosity reinforces to us that this is not our home. Letting go of things is a reminder for us that we can’t keep any of it; this life is just a warm up for the real thing.
Real life is coming for the people of God. The hope is not that this life will eventually live up to all the hype. The hope is the resurrection that Jesus is coming with a new body, new heavens and a new earth for us where we will be with and enjoy God forever. On that day, when you see Jesus, everything that was lost here in this life will be gained there in that life.
When generosity causes you to decrease your eating out, to downsize your home, to decrease your hobbies, you are preaching to your heart that God is greater than all of these things. You’re banking on the fact God is better.
Knowing God and having Him through Jesus Christ is better than anything.
Fear of Assessing Your Finances
As we begin to consider all of this, it’s going to be a terrifying process. What would have to change in our lives? What would we have to give up?
What about that debt we haven’t dealt with or those spending habits you can’t imagine giving up? Are you thinking about things that are off limits that God can’t touch?
Everything we have belongs to Him.
When my wife and I were first married, we were terrible with money. We had a budget, but never really looked at it. We didn’t spend money on big things; instead it was a lot of little things, going out to eat a lot, enjoying vacations that were just a little more than we could afford. Doing this over time will rack up some debt.
Through out that season I knew we were being wrong. I knew we needed to change, but I couldn’t bring myself to deal with it. I didn’t want to look at how irresponsible we had been. What I wanted was a quick fix; confess to God and other people, then have the debt just disappear. I wanted to confess the sin, but not change my lifestyle at all. I didn’t want to lose anything. I knew it would take ongoing discipline and grace from God to do it.
God has been gracious over the past couple of years. We’re able to be more generous. It’s no longer a deep source of shame for us, but I still get nervous about having to look at our finances and wonder what God will want us to do. As usual, my finances are indicative of my heart.
Preparing for this sermon wasn’t easy. It became clear I’ve gotten to a place where I’m giving just enough so God will leave me alone. God began to press on my heart that we give in light of the gospel, not in light of some imaginary quota you’ve set in your mind.
It is definitely challenging as you begin to assess your finances.
The Good News
Jesus died for all sin, even our financial ones.
If you’re feeling guilt or shame and your first thought is to give God a lot of money so He’ll love you, that’s not how it works. The only generosity that can save you is God’s generosity through giving us Jesus. You don’t give to be loved. God’s already loved you first, because He’s given you Jesus. When it comes to our finances and generosity, all of God’s people start with grace. You don’t start in debt with Him. Jesus paid for that. So now, we give and are generous, not to earn something from Him, but to enjoy all that He has already purchased for us.
God doesn’t need your money. He owns everything. But He wants your heart. The way to your heart is through your money. The scripture is very clear about this.
It would be too easy for me to end this sermon by telling you to go out and be generous.
Jesus doesn’t want you to be convicted today only to leave here and go about your business and do nothing. Sin in us is so deep and insidious; we will make every excuse why we don’t need to deal with it. But Jesus wants our hearts and by following Jesus you experience grace. Grace is not lifeless; it produces change.
When Jesus talked to people in the gospels about money, He was very specific. So let’s get specific about what you need to do with your money.
This week I want you to:
This will be challenging to do, but we have to be honest with where our hearts are.
No matter what you find, how rebellious your heart may be, remember what Jesus promised us; He is promising you true treasure. Your generosity will not go unnoticed. He sees everything and He’s promised that generosity will give you joy.
Consider the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet. Consider the pierce in His side. Consider the grace, truth and forgiveness on His lips. Remember that you can trust Him. He’s right and true. All He has in mind is joy for you.