Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 37: “Treasures in Heaven” 09.28.2018

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

According to a commercial real estate journal, in 2014 there were 48,500 self-storage facilities in the United States. That is nearly one thousand per state. That’s not the number of individual units but rather locations with multiple, sometimes hundreds of units. Many, many millions of square feet of storage. Clearly, we have a lot of stuff! An article in the Huffington Post, April 22, 2015, claims there are more of these facilities in America than there are McDonald’s Restaurants. They observe rightly: “Apparently, we are all hoarders!”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

We have to wonder what Jesus would say if he rode around any modern American community and saw all of the storage units. And we have to wonder if any of us, you or me, have very full storage units in Heaven? So … we come to this challenging teaching. Put another way, as Christians we must wrestle with “how much is enough?” An old adage says, “Just a little more!” Consider …

Actually, this statement of the Lord Jesus Christ is all the more astounding when we remember that he made it to a modest community living in primitive homes in a non-manufacturing and non-consumer-oriented society. Their ability to accrue possessions was simply miniscule compared to how we live today. How much more would his teaching make sense in our affluent and “stuff driven” society?

I have a confession. I do not have much “stuff guilt.” I have a little because I have purchased more golf clubs and cars that I should have over the years. But, at the same time, my wife and I have been good givers. We’ve had years of living right on the edge and years of abundance. But both experiences were of the Lord. We can relate to the Apostle Paul saying:

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV) “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

So, since most of us, me included, are not about to take a vow of poverty, where does this leave us? A few thoughts. It is important to read the whole passage at this point.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Let’s ask exactly WHY Jesus warned us about treasures on earth? Possessions. “Stuff.” It is not because God is keeping an accounting record of all of our assets. As if on judgment Day He might say “Well! Your net worth exceeded a million dollars and I notice that you had three flat screen televisions! That was truly excessive!” It’s not as if there is some Divine formula per se as to what we may own or buy. The only thing required of us is to not let it steal away our hearts. Are we ready, if necessary, to give everything up? If God places us in modest circumstances, can we handle it? The Apostle Paul also said:

1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NIV) “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

Jesus said exactly the same thing. The key point is what are “your life” and “my life” about? One day when two men were arguing about family assets, they approached Jesus. We read:

Luke 12:15 (NIV) “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Jesus did not say to be on guard for your neighbor, but for yourself. One day a man saw me arrive in our ten-year-old Mustang convertible. In my view, it is a modest pleasure that is not unreasonable. But the brother said, “You know Pastor, you could sell that nice car and give the money to missions!” Hmmm….. was it his place to say that? I think not. He has no idea what we have given to missions or to the Kingdom of God. I was not at all convicted by what he said because I think, within reason, our Lord is happy to have us enjoy some things.

Eventually, he apologized. He’s a good man but I prayed that he would see that each believer must have his or her own wrestling match with God as Jacob did. And no one asked this man to be my self-appointed spiritual wrestling coach. Anyway, perhaps the real question is not “How much stuff do you have?” Again, we read:

Matthew 6:24 (NIV) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Possessions cost money and an addiction to possessions requires an addiction to money. So, it seems that the real concern is “Where is my heart? Where is your heart?”

Next (these things may be related) …. WORRY?!

Peace. Pastor Alberta

1 Comment

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One response to “Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

  1. Pr. Alberta,
    Great discussion about how NOT to be guilty of “storing up treasures on earth”. I would like to hear a LOT more about exactly what you think it looks like to “store up treasures in heaven”. What practices, behaviors, attitudes, disciplines, ministries, etc. qualify, and why. Obviously, we can’t do that literally, so it takes some unpacking. I seem to recall a pretty good treatment in Randy Alcorn’s book “The Treasure Principle”.
    Blessings … Bill

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