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.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 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.
Jesus, James half-brother also talked about our struggle with money in the most famous sermon of all time, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7, Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. This is what I like to call the sermon on the amount, where Jesus challenges us with the question, “Where is your treasure?” and helps us find the answer by giving four tests.
- The Durability Test.
The first test is found in verses 19-20 and asks the question, “How long will it last?” Verse 19 is a negative command: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Where verse 20 is the positive: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Jesus talks about treasures because while not everyone may have a lot of money, we all have things that we treasure. Our treasure could be a possession like a car, clothes, or even a position that we hold or seek after. Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to have treasures, He is telling us that our focus should be on laying up treasures in heaven, not on earth. The first life-skill that Jesus wants us to develop is to stop living just for today. This command is in the present tense. It literally means to “stop storing up.” Jesus knows that our natural, inborn desire is to accumulate things. That doesn’t mean possessions, or property are a problem. The key lies in the little phrase, “for yourselves.” Jesus is forbidding the selfish, self-centered accumulating of goods as the major end of life. Satisfaction is not found in stuff but in serving the Savior. Two things happen to the things we own. First, they decay. In ancient times, wealth was often measured by what you wore, and moths could chew holes in people’s precious possessions. Also rust could corrode and consume. Not only would possessions decay but second, they could disappear. Stuff could be stolen. Jesus is teaching us that earthly wealth is not secure. It either decays or disappears, earthly treasures do not stand the test of time. Job 27:16, 20 provides a vivid description of this process: “Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay…he lays down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone.” While earthly treasures are short lived eternal treasures are secure. 1 Peter 1:4 says: “And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you.” Treasures that we send on ahead are mothproof, rustproof, and burglarproof. The issue is not whether we will store up wealth, that’s a given. The question is where we will do our banking. Are you making short term investments that are insecure or long-term ones that God guarantees? Which leads us to the question: How do we make deposits on earth that yield dividends in heaven? The only way is to invest our time, talents, and treasures in that which lasts for eternity. And only two things will stand the test of time. Scripture and souls, God’s Word and people. Stuff will decay and disappear, that’s the way God set it up. 1 John 2:17: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” When we give of our resources and riches to people in need, we are making a difference. Today many of us have a messed-up mentality when it comes to money. We see it as ours instead of God’s, and so we start looking at it through the lens of self instead of stewardship. Why do we need a proper mentality when it comes to money, because nothing muddies up ministry quicker than a messed up money mentality. When the church closes its doors to the hurting what message does it communicate, not the message of the cross which is a message of mercy. How open are the doors of your heart, many of us are living miserable lives because when it comes to money they are locked. The ultimate investment you can make is to give so that people hear the Word of God. As Jim Eliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim was killed sharing his faith on the mission field. James reminds us that not only are our treasures limited but so is our time here on earth. We are managers of God’s money for a brief moment in time. Are you investing in the temporary or the eternal? The second test is the:
- Heart Test.
The second test asks the question, “Where are you investing your time and money?” and is found in verse 21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus teaches us a powerful truth, that your heart follows your money. Most of us tend to think that our money follows our heart, but our heart always follows our treasure. Whatever you invest your time and money in will become very important to you. Too many of us spend all that we have on the things of this world and then we wonder why we have trouble concentrating on the things of God. Our money has kept our heart tethered to the world instead of tied to the Word. Many of us think we own our possessions but because we have allowed our heart to be tied to our treasures our possessions own us. Your heart will be wrapped up in what you treasure. So let me ask you, does your life revolve around the Lord or around your riches?