Isaiah 55:1-13, Matthew 6:19-21
November 3, 2013
This is one of the best things Jesus ever said about the relationship between the things of tis world and the kingdom of God. Here, in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Do not store up treasures on earth… but store up treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Those are amazing words! And yes, he would say some other great things about that. Later in his ministry, he was very insightful (and clever!) in answering the Pharisees about the Roman taxes. Do you remember? “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods.” That was a wonderful story, too! But here he takes those thoughts to another level. In this, his most important “speech” ever, he’s talking about the things of this earth, and he takes them out of earthly terms, and puts them in terms of people’s hearts!
That’s what this is about! It’s about the heart! Make no mistake! This isn’t about possessions or investments or cash in the bank. Jesus makes our relationship with the things of this earth a matter of the heart!
He said, “Do not ‘store up’ treasures on earth…” I remember when I first studied the words in that sentence. It was a real eye-opening moment. My New Testament professor at the time said, “The same word is used here in both the verb and the noun form.” Sure enough it was. It was the Greek word “Thei-sauros.” What does that word sound like? “Thei-sauros.” (I had to think for a minute!) It sounds like “Thesaurus.” Do you remember Roget’s Thesaurus? And what did Mr. Roget call his book? How did it get that name? He called it “A Treasury of Words.”
So Jesus is using that word here. And he’s using a little grammatical “turn” to get his point across. This sentence can more literally be read, “Do not ‘treasure up’ treasure on earth.” Or more simply, “Do not treasure treasure…”
Think about what it means when we use “treasure” as a verb. When you “treasure” something, that’s a matter of the heart. Isn’t it? When you treasure your kids, or your Alma Mater, or any of the other things in this life, it’s about where your heart is. You love those things, don’t you? And isn’t that consistent with what Jesus would say all along? Sometimes people misquote him, saying, “Money is the root of all evil.” But that’s not what he said, is it?! What did he say? “The love of money…” It’s not “do not have treasure.” It’s “Be careful about what you ‘treasure!’”
Sometimes people have used a similar “turn of words.” Some have said that “possessions can possess us.” And that can happen, can’t it? Do we have things? Or do things “have” us? Whenever you look at it that way, it’s always a matter of the heart.
Do you get that? Jesus isn’t speaking about “having.” That’s a physical thing. You can see what people “have” by looking at their houses, their cars, or their bank accounts. And frankly I don’t think Jesus was all that “impressed” (or obsessed) with that. Jesus was more concerned with the heart. And to know what people “treasure,” you have to ask them the heart questions.
So, as you’ve probably surmised by now, that’s what we’re asking you to do today. As you think about your commitment to Eddington Church, as we make this dedication an act of “spiritual worship” – which it is, and always has been – we’re asking you to look at your heart. What do you treasure? What do you really love in this world? Is it family? Experiences? Things?
As you think about Stewardship, ask yourself, “Do you ‘treasure’ your church?” That’s what we’d like you to consider. Do you love your Church? Think about all it has meant to you down through the years. For some of you, that’s a lot of years! Then think about this Church moving into the future. Will you continue your love and support this Church, and will you help it to continue in the future?
As we move into our time of dedication, I’d like you to remember these words of Jesus. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And I think he would agree if I turned these words around slightly, and say, “Where is your heart? For where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”
Eternal God, we are grateful for all you have given us in this congregation for more than a century. Help us to know how much it means to us, and to know the depth of our love for you, as we dedicate to you our Stewardship commitments. These things we pray in the name of Jesus, and for the sake of his kingdom in our midst, Amen.