Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jesus' Sermon On The Mountainside, Wealth as God's Rival

If you and I worship wealth, then we will find ourselves emotionally, spiritually and materially impoverished.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19)
* We will view the wealth God has given us as really our own wealth and not His, and worry about whether our wealth is secure.

* We’ll worry if there is enough of it to provide for our wants.

* We will become reluctant to share the wealth.

* Instead of being grateful to God, our anxieties and worries will create distance between us and God.

Instead, the Lord Jesus says,
"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)
The Jews were very familiar with this concept of treasure in heaven. One saying was that deeds of kindness done on earth became the treasure a person had in heaven.

Treasure in heaven was also connected with a person’s character. It was said that the only thing a person could take out of this world with them when they died was themselves. So the finer a self that person brought, the greater that person’s treasure would be in heaven.

When you lay up treasure in heaven, you end up using all that you have here on earth for the glory of God. Jesus often talked about how the right attitude toward wealth is a mark of spiritual maturity.

When God made everything we have on this earth, He declared it good. God has often invited His people to enjoy what He has given us. It is not wrong for you to possess wealth, but it is definitely wrong for wealth to posses you.

What is your security?

Think about it this way – go through each aspect of your life and ask yourself “Could I survive the loss of this, or would it spin me into a pit so deep I wonder if I would ever come back up out of it?”

* Maybe you feel you might not survive the loss of your child, or of your husband, or your family.

* Maybe your treasure is your pet, and the loss of that little companion would sink you beyond help.

* Maybe what you are treasuring is for you to be loved, and you fear losing, or being abandoned by, the person or the creature who loves you.

* Maybe your treasure is your sense of security – your house and investments, or your retirement account.

* Maybe it’s your health and strength, and you are undone by the thought of being bedridden.

* Maybe pleasure is your treasure, and the loss of even a little pleasure makes you irritable and grabby.

* Maybe you treasure being popular,
...or having a sense of purpose by being employed,
......or having something to do.

You tell God what your treasure is, and He’ll tell you where your heart is.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)
A prayer-filled life is characterized by godly wisdom:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 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!" (Matthew 6:22-23)
Eyes are opened to the light of God's word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, rather than being blinded by the glare of wealth, which actually brings darkness and clouded thinking.
"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 (or "Mammom") (Matthew 6:24)
Mammon” was a commonly used word in Jesus’ day that referred to wealth, but in the negative sense, being enslaved to wealth.

You can’t love and devote yourself to your earthly treasure and think that you can love and devote yourself to God at the same time. Mammon is God’s rival. The love of one will crowd out the love of the other.

* In what capacity might you be trying to "serve two masters"?

* In what ways might wealth, or the desire for wealth, be clouding your thinking?

* What do you find yourself devoting more of your time and energy towards? God, or His rival...Mammon?

God hasn’t promised to always protect your earthly treasure. If you spend your life trying to protect your treasure, which God hasn’t promised to do, you will find yourself in a constant state of anxiety, since you know, deep down, that you can’t control the future.

The only answer is to replace the earthly treasure with a heavenly one, treasuring God even more, treasuring His love and approval even more than your other loves.

A prayerful life has a single focus on God, and not double vision which tries to serve God and some other source of security,
-> Like material wealth,
...or a career,
......or your children,
.........or having a companion and so on.

When your heart is wrapped around earthly treasure, you leave yourself vulnerable to fear, anxiety and worry. A person with single focus is free from anxiety and worry about the things of life, but trusts contentedly in God's provision, even when God’s will allows anguish, suffering, and death.

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