Tuesday, September 8, 2015

God or Money?

Part 21 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 6:19-24

You can listen to this sermon here.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also […] You cannot serve God and money” (vv. 21, 24b).

What Do You Treasure?

In 6:19-34, Jesus talks about money and possessions. Materialism is one of the big problems of our culture. Craig Blomberg writes, “It is arguable that materialism is the single biggest competitor with authentic Christianity for the hearts and souls of millions in our world today, including many in the visible church.” [1] We who are followers of Jesus are to be different. Our lives are not to be all about making money and acquiring possessions.

What do you treasure? Jesus declared, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21). What you treasure, you will pursue. Do you pursue God (knowing and obeying him), or do you pursue wealth (or something else)? There are many reasons why people pursue wealth: security, personal worth, power, independence, and pleasure. [2]

Knowing and obeying God should be the treasure we pursue.

The Danger of Money

Money can be a danger to our relationship with God. The apostle Paul writes, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:10; cf. Matt. 13:22). [3] The person who craves for wealth has a “bad” eye (v. 23). [4]

Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and money” (v. 24). If we are pursuing wealth more than we are pursuing God, we have given our heart to an idol. Paul calls a person who is “covetous” (i.e., greedy) an “idolater” (Eph. 5:5; cf. Col. 3:5). Tim Keller defines an idol as “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” [5]

All of us would probably say, “I don’t worship wealth. I don’t love money.” But are we fooling ourselves? What are your goals? What do you spend your time thinking about? Do you think about how you can grow in your knowledge of God and obedience to God? Or do you think more about material things (e.g., getting an iPhone, going on a dream vacation, saving money for retirement, renovating the house)?

The Foolishness of Pursuing Wealth

It’s foolish to devote your life to pursuing material wealth. Why? Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (v. 19). Material possessions are temporary. They can be, as Jesus states, ruined or lost. Even if our possessions aren’t ruined or lost, we only have them during this life (like the rich farmer in Luke 12:15-21).

Wealth is most attractive when we view this life as all there is. 

Jesus declares, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (v. 20).

Our Hearts Should Belong to God

Knowing and obeying God should not be seen as a duty but as a delight. Why? Because of what God has done for us. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Our hearts should belong to God. We should treasure nothing more than knowing and obeying him. 

[1] Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Material Possessions, 132.
[2] Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, 303.
[3] Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
[4] Wilkins writes, “When we focus on something evil, the eye becomes the conduit by which evil fills the inner person” (Matthew, 295).
[5] Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, xvii.

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