In a typical week, about eight hundred Americans are physically injured by their own jewelry.1 We're hooking so many rings and kooks and studs into our bodies that it's beginning to be a major source of injury. However, did you know that riches (money) can injure our soul for eternity. And many more people are injured that way every week. We are all wrapped up in seeking, acquiring, and protecting our material possessions. Whe storms are forecasted we move the furniture in so it won't get damaged. We think a lot about our material possessions, and we build our lives around things. Even small children will fight over a little piece of plastic that's called a toy.
When Jesus was here He recognized the symptoms and gave us some highly valuable advise on how to relate to this disease called materialism or covetousness. Notice Matthew 6:19. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.
Notice the Greek word for treasures: the-saur'-os. Have you ever heard of that word? Surely you have. I have Roget's Thesaurus. You all know that word because most of you have a book at home by that name. 'Roget's Thesaurus.' It is a treasury of words. Words are treasures. Here is a whole book full of words and meanings and synonyms and antonyms. In fact the word 'lay up' is the same word, 'thesaurus' Do not treasure up treasures. That's what it means. From the same word in Greek. In fact the Greek also carries the thought of stacking or laying out horizontally as one stacks piles of coins beside each other.
So what Jesus is saying here is this: The stockpiling or hoarding of wealth that is not bing used according to God's purposes, or money that is simply stored or stacked up in some treasury somewhere for safe keeping and kept for the keeping's sake is condemned, it is not the Christlike way of doing business. In these last day, if god has blessed you, and if God has given you enough normally large amount of treasure, what are you supposed to do with that? Just keep staking them? No, not at all.
What you treasure up could be worthless in God's sight. I've probably driven 24,000 miles just up and down McDonald Road during the almost 19 years I've been here. I couldn't believe I'd driven that long in that short of a section of pavement. Quite often as I pass a certain drive-way between Talant Road and the church I can see a grown man sitting on his gravel driveway sorting stones, rocks. Those rocks are his treasures. He spends hundreds if not thousands of hours gathering stones of a certain shape and color. They are his treasures. I call him the 'McDonald Road Rock Man.'
The McDonald Road Rock Man causes me to wonder what God thinks of me. As God observes the way I spend my time and my money and the material things that I value, what term comes to His mind when He sees me? In God's thinking, maybe I am the McDonald Road Rock Man. I don't know. Or does He see me as one whose greatest treasure is Jesus, the Rock of Ages? Maybe that's the rock that I treasure the most. I believe it is. If my one consuming interest is to accumulate the worldly gravel of this life, then I have missed everything. And I am indeed the McDonald Road Rock Man, the gravel man.
In Matthew 6:19 it says, Do not lay up treasures for yourselves! Now, that's an interesting thing. They never told that to some of these investment companies. We're not supposed to treasure up treasures for ourselves, it says. Now, I don't think it's wrong to have things of value. What is wrong is when they are used selfishly just for ourselves. When we retain our treasures tightly with our hand while at the same time our eyes see pressing human needs all around us, then those possessions have become idols and we are fitting into the meaning of this verse. When we accumulate material things simply for our own indulgence, when at the same time the cause of Jesus has urgent need, we become guilty of laying up treasures for ourselves. We can't do that. Everything we own is either an idol or a tool. Now you may say, "I disagree with you." Well, think about it. Everything we own is either an idol or a tool. You can either use it for yourself, or you can use it for some constructive purpose that God has given you. How are you using your possessions? Do you possess them or do your possessions possess you?
A man wrote a letter:
"Dear Ann Landers: I have lost my wife. No, she didn't die. She didn't leave home to make a career for herself. She did not run off with another guy. She became hooked on refunding. Delores is constantly clipping coupons, mailing rebate forms, saving and filing product wrappers and labels. As a result of collecting refunds and coupons she has piled up enough food in our home to last for two years. On my last trip around the house, I counted 34 boxes of dry cereal and 27 boxes of crackers. We can't have company because the house is so cluttered. I doubt Delores makes the minimum wage for all the time she puts in, but even worse, it has turned her into a minimum wife. What should I do. I'm ready to send her back to her mother for a refund. LB, Pennock, MN.
Ann Danders wrties:
Dear L.B.: Delores, who probably always was a frugal shopper has slipped over the line. She is now obsessive-compulsive. The woman needs professional help.
I'm so glad we're not like Delores, aren't you? We don't hoard things, do we. We may have perhaps a dozen of them, but nobody has thirteen or fourteen piles of money, or do we? Friends, I wonder if we have become like Delores in God's sight. I don't know. I'm not saying it's wrong to have things. Some of you say, "Well, that's my retirement." Well, it is. Are you not supposed to have a retirement?
I don't want to be a minimum Christian. And I want to tell you that a minimum Christian is one that is compulsive to gather and collect far more of this world's goods than necessary. Not sharing our resources with others, but simply stockpiling for ourselves and our children, not shouldering our fair share of the load in the church or in the community. Now, if you are shouldering your fair share, that's fine.
I was down at Cohutta Springs this week. The Conference had a Senior Pastor's Leadership Cohort, and all of us senior pastor's were there who have multi-staff churches. I talked with several of the pastors, and they said, "You know, in our church, eighty percent of our people don't give anything to the church budget. They come, they enjoy it, they receive their Sabbath School quarterlies, but as far as we can tell, they don't give anything for the budget to help pay for those things. I thought, 'Wow, that's awful. Probably here it's a hundred percent that support our church. It might not be quite that high. I'll have to speak with Sheryl Baker about that. We are not to keep it all to ourselves.
Your treasure is whatever you set your heart on, regardless of it's intrinsic value. There could be stacks and stacks of cooky boxes. Corrie ten Boom, that saintly lady, who endured such brutality from the Nazis in Ravensbruck during WWII, once said that she had learned to hold everything loosely in her hand. She had discovered in her years of walking with Jesus, that when she grasped things tightly, it would hurt more when it would have to be taken away. Jesus' true disciples hold all "Things" loosely.
Matthew 6:19. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." So, here Jesus gives two very good reasons not to gather to ourselves an over abundance of material things, of anything. All earthly treasure is subject to loss from various reasons.
Point number 1: Jesus is saying that materials could be CORRUPTED FROM WITHIN.
Even in the safety of your own house, moths and rust can destroy your possessions. It can deteriorate in your house, even in the safety of a safe place moths and rust can destroy your possessions.
In Jesus' day part of a person's wealth was clothing. Cloth was not mass-produced. Clothing represented a considerable investment. Rich people sometimes had golden threads woven into their clothing for display and for storage of wealth. You could see the gold right there. The wealth was in the clothing. It was for display, it was for storage pf wealth, and when you gave the coat off your back, and you were a rich person, you gave a lot.
The best clothing was made of fine wool which is moth food. So, rust also is a possible eating-away of treasure. The Greek word for rust is BROSIS which means an eating away at the base, such as might be done by rats, mice, worms or insects. In Jesus' day many a person's wealth consisted in the grain they had stored away in their great barns. Maybe they had several barns full of grain. It could all become corrupted from within by insects and bugs and worms and rats and mice, and destroyed.
Point number two: Jesus is saying that destruction could come FROM VIOLENCE WITHOUT, that breaks in and takes away
Thieves can steal. This is something that comes in from outside. The word in the Greek here is literally "to dig through." The walls of the houses were made of nothing stronger than baked clay. Burglars did literally dig through the wall to get to a person's gold. Or they dug it up where it had been buried in the ground where it was hidden. I don't know how they knew where it was. They didn't have metal detectors. As we near Jesus' coming in this modern day and age, we certainly live in an age of loss. You can have all your money in the stock market and it could deflate like a balloon. If the 'bird flu' comes, what's going to happen to all that money? They're making dire predictions. All the big earthquakes that are overdue, and these storms. You know, storms are more numerous. Every earthly material possession is affected in one way or another by loss, decay, depreciation, deterioration. We are in some bad times right now, and so we suffer loss. One bolt of lightening; one tornado; one flood, storm, fire, and it is all gone. You could go home from church and lose it all. Every earthly possession is affected by one thing or another: by decay or depreciation, deterioration or loss of some type.
It is wisdom to purchase things that will last. Whether you buy clothes, a motor car, carpet, or furniture, avoid shoddy goods. But keep in mind that sooner or later they will be gone or belong to somebody else. We all begin life without a rag for our back, and we go out of life with no pockets in our rags. The Shroud of Turin has no pockets. Either rust, moth or thief or time will separate us from every one of our treasures.
Don't lay up earthly treasures for yourself. Money is a good servant but a poor master. The lure for gold is stronger than most of us and it so often separates us from God. Someday it will be discovered that the bars that shut many out of the kingdom of heaven are forged out of silver and gold.
Matthew 6:20 says, "store up for yourselves treasures .... in heaven!" Fantastic! Yes! We can have real treasure! Not here, but in eternity. Let me ask you a serious question: How much would you be worth if you lost all your money and all your possessions? Visualize your life as it will be on Eternity's morning, when this life will be past. What will our portfolio be worth then? Will money be a factor? Will Position? Degree? Real Estate? There will just be one thing which we shall value as priceless on that day, one thing that will be priceless. The fact that we are a son or daughter of the Eternal King. If we are, then we are rich. And you can become His child and inherit wealth and health and true happiness. You get it all free of charge. Just by accepting Jesus right now as your personal Savior. Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
A true story comes from the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat. Then she suddenly remembered something she forgot. The ship was listing bad. She was granted three minutes to get what she forgot. After that they would lower the lifeboat into the North Atlantic without her. She ran across the deck that was slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room where thousands of dollars were piled up ankle deep against the wall. She finally came to her room. She pushed aside her diamond rings and expensive jewelry and reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three oranges. She just made it back to the life boat in time.
It seems incredible that 30 minutes earlier that she would not have chosen three navel oranges over even the smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic and the end was near. All values had changed. May I submit to you that the true treasure of this world is Jesus Christ.
If you think about it, the only things we possess or own are the heavenly riches. We own nothing here. Things are transitory and so are we. We basically rent. Even your land will not be yours someday. Only God owns anything. And do you know what His greatest single valued item is? What is it that God considers as His greatest asset or treasure? Zechariah 9:16 (NLT) When that day arrives, the Lord their god will rescue His people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle like jewels in a crown. How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
God counts His own like scarce gold! Remember that in Jesus' eyes you are more than dust. You are a child of tomorrow. You belong to eternity. You are the offspring of Deity. You are special.
What is the treasure Jesus wants us to have? Ephesians l:18 ....The riches of the glory of His inheritance.... It comes not by works but by gift. Given by a loving Father only to His children. The greatest treasure you can own today is Jesus
THE LILY of the Valleys...... Song of Solomon 2:1 The ROSE of Sharon............ Song of Solomon 2:1 The precious CORNER STONE..... I Peter 2:6-9
Jesus is the Jewel of the Christian. You lay up heavenly treasure by laying hold on Jesus. By letting His sweet will be your desire. Every deed done to benefit those in NEED adds to our eternal treasure. Every time when we lovingly give time or money for the cause of Jesus, we add to the stockpile of heavenly treasure. Our Christlike character is the only thing we can take with us someday.
One of my favorite stories is about a sailor who was shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when the time was over, the king was banished to a barren island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to that island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance. This is like life- We're all kings here, kings for a little while, able to choose what we shall do with the stuff of life. Colossians 3:1 Seek those things which are above. Matthew 6:21. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Go ahead and make your fortune, but store it where it will greet you in the dawning of the new morning.
1. Houston Post, Nov. 30, 1992
Hymn of Praise: #33, Sing a News Song to the Lord Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21 Hymn of Response: #445, I'm But a Stranger Here 0648#206 Prayer Give us eyes to discern true riches. Help us to avoid worldly excess. Help us to make Jesus our priceless treasure. Give us a new heart that as the needle seeks the pole that our heart may seek the priceless joy found only in Jesus.
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last updated April 10, 2006 by Bob Beckett.