In the heart of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus dealt specifically with how we treat our financial resources. It’s fascinating to see that on the heels of discussing prayer and fasting, the Lord then dealt with money. In the end, these are issues with a similar theme: the priorities of our heart.
1. Choose your priorities carefully.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” It is the warning from Jesus not to heap up a mound or treasure trove of those things that do not last.
I find that humans value three things: great achievements, hoarding power and amassing possessions. But everything on Earth has an expiration date. Rust and rot are standard for all that we might own or possess. George Müller wrote in his autobiography, “Money is really worth no more than as it can be used to accomplish the Lord’s work.” So we must choose the heavenly treasure that will not fade away.
As you invest in what has an eternal impact, only one thing really fits that description: gospel-centered ministry that wins souls to Christ.
2. Your treasure chest and your heart’s affections are inseparable.
Jesus continued and stated in verses 21-23, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!”
He is teaching that what we strive to achieve and how we use our possessions reveals the affections of our hearts. The idea of your eye being the lamp of your heart is a metaphor that connects today. We often say of something in a store or in an ad, “It caught my eye.” We saw it and longed for it. Jesus is teaching us to carefully guard our lives from the dark traps of greed, envy and jealousy.
Generosity is a greenhouse of joy. Greed is a graveyard of joy. By focusing our hearts on Christ, we can experience a freedom to use money and relate to people, rather than vice-versa.
3. Choose the best master and serve with everything you have.
In verse 24, Jesus said, “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.”
The service we render to any master includes our affections, skills and possessions. Dividing our loyalties never works. At a wedding ceremony, it would be ludicrous for a groom to promise his life to the woman he loves with a caveat that allows him to date others on Saturdays. The commitment must be total.
Compartmentalizing anything from Christ, including our money, shows that we do not truly want Him as our master. It is plain that even our money should be controlled by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let’s do these three things as we think about what we treasure:
• Test the loyalties of your heart. What do you long for? If it is not Jesus, then return to Him.
• Make it a priority to give to your church family. Tithes and offerings should be natural and not an afterthought.
• Give and trust Jesus with the outcome. Financial stewardship is a leap of faith. Come into the risk-rich environment of faith and watch how God shapes your life to mirror the life of Christ.
If you enjoyed this post, check out Philip Nation’s previous contribution, Sowing and Reaping.