Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 6:16-21
November 5, 2017
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I mentioned this passage briefly last week. And if you remember, I said it was one of the greatest and most insightful things Jesus Christ ever said! “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Think about that.
That statement comes as part of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by Matthew. And this chapter in particular, chapter 6, contains some of the wisest advice about life that anybody has ever uttered on this planet! Jesus came to tell us that God wants us to have the most peaceful, anxiety-free life, possible. He wants us to have abundance. He wants us to have the most positive attitudes and the highest motivations. And he wants to share that life with us. God wants to be in an intimate relationship with us.
Think about that! Even the idea of calling God “Father” was fairly new to those people. It was used occasionally in Hebrew teaching, but Jesus made it a more important idea. And all Christians since then have thought of God that way. In teaching us his famous prayer – in this chapter – he started out, “Our Father…” And that’s how the millions of Catholics refer to that prayer. It’s not called “The Lord’s Prayer.” They call it the “Our Father.”
Even more than that, there were times Jesus called God “Abba,” which was a word that was akin to our word “dad.” That sounds a little awkward to us, doesn’t it? When we start a prayer, we wouldn’t say, “Hey Dad…” But the point is that God does want to have that kind of intimacy with us.
That’s the kind of thing Jesus would talk about – intimacy, attitude, motivation. I heard it said years ago that the people around Jesus wanted to talk with him about doctrine and practice. But he would talk instead about thoughts and attitudes. He was more interested in talking about what was in peoples’ hearts. This chapter, this whole “Sermon on the Mount,” for that matter, is example after example about that.
So, the “heart” of this chapter is the “heart.” Jesus is talking to the people about the “motivation” for why we do things. Again, in the section about prayer, he says, “Don’t pray on street corners like the hypocrites do.” “They’re doing that in order ‘to be seen by others.’” “They have their reward!” he said. “Don’t do that!” “Instead, go into your closet and pray in secret.” “And your Father (there’s that word again!) who sees in secret will reward you.”
Now, did Jesus mean that we should never pray anywhere except in a secret place? No. He meant that we should be sure why we are praying, and we should know who is the focus. We don’t pray to hear ourselves talk. We don’t pray to “show off.” We pray to talk to God! We pray because our Heavenly Father wants to have an close conversation with us! That’s the heart again!
Well, in this section, he’s talking about “treasure.” That’s the third “T” of Stewardship. Time, Talent, Treasure. And this too is about the heart. When I talk about this passage, I’m always quick to point out that word “treasure” here is used as a verb. It’s not just something you have, it’s also something you do. Jesus is talking about “treasuring” things. Literally, he says here, “Do not treasure treasures on earth.” And we know what that means, don’t we! We know what it means to “treasure” something. It means more than just “storing up,” or “accumulating” things. It means loving something we have. We treasure our kids. We treasure our relationships. This is more than just a matter of what we have. It’s a matter of the heart! Isn’t it?
So, what do you “treasure” in this life? Yes, we treasure family and friends. But what about things? What about the actual “treasure” in our lives? I said last week that Jesus wasn’t all that interested in wealth. In fact, I don’t think God himself is really all that impressed with wealth. After all, everything is his! Whatever we have is “on loan” from him! So, God isn’t all that interested in our wealth. What he is interested in, is what we do with our wealth. As I also said, God isn’t concerned about us “possessing things,” but rather about “things possessing us.” He isn’t concerned about what we “have,” but rather how we “love.” For him it’s not about “treasure,” but rather about what we “treasure.” (There’s that verb again!)
Think about this. A Pastor of mine once said, “We tend to make time for, and spend our money on, things that are important to us.” Isn’t that true? Think about the things that are important to you? Do you spend your time and your treasure on them? And then he said, “If we’re not making time for something, if we aren’t spending our treasure on it, we might need to ask ourselves how important it is to us.” I think that’s true, too. If nothing else, how we spend our time and our treasure can be a measure of, or at least a hint about, the importance of things in our lives.
Now, I know that’s not a hard and fast rule. There are things that demand our time and treasure that we don’t have any control over. There are some things that maybe we’d rather not have to be so concerned with. I know that. But this does give us some idea, doesn’t it? We can look at our lives and see the things for which we are giving of our time, talents, and treasure, and things we are not. And we can ask those questions of importance.
We can remember Jesus’ words. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” AND I encourage you to think today about the things you have, and the things you treasure. For, as Jesus would tell us, it is with the things you treasure that you will find your heart.
And finally, as you think about stewardship, I encourage you to think about where your heart needs to be, about what things are ultimately and eternally the most important in this life, and then consider how to put your treasure there!
Eternal God, our heavenly Father, help us to see the importance of your kingdom, and the great value in our relationship with you. Grant us to see with your eyes, the amazing worth in the people in our lives, and the many blessings we have from you every day. Help us to be the joyful, peaceful, abundant people you want us to be. For we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.