June 7, 2010 David Balzer

Matthew 6:19-24: Finding the ultimate treasure

Where’s your heart fixed?

Do you ever play that game, “What would you do if you won a million dollars?” What were your answers? Perhaps they were something to do with a new house, or a new car, or an expensive overseas holiday.

Or how about THIS ONE? Do you ever do THIS? You grab the huge bundle of catalogues out of the mailbox. You head straight for the electronic goods one, or the furniture one, or the clothing ones. Mentally ticking off all the things you could buy. If only you had THOSE THINGS, THEN you’d be happy. THEN, everything would be alright.

Or maybe your daydream is something ELSE. Sporting stardom. Or playing lead guitar to a packed stadium of screaming fans. Or sailing single-handed around the world.

Or perhaps it’s something a little less energetic. Perhaps you daydream about counting down the days until you retire. You’re busy squirreling away every spare dollar into superannuation, so your golden years will be as comfortable as you can make them.

Here’s a daydream I’ve fallen for. I go on holidays somewhere nice. Normally near a beach. Nice place to visit for a week, but probably not that practical to actually LIVE there. AND I BROWSE THE REAL ESTATE WINDOWS. “Wouldn’t it be nice to LIVE here, rather than just holiday?” “What sort of house could we buy? How much would it cost? Wouldn’t life be good?”

Pathetic, isn’t it?

But the very fact we DAYDREAM those sorts of things says something about OUR HEART. Jesus says “Where your TREASURE is, there your heart is also”

Where’s YOUR heart fixed?

Let me tell you about three men whose hearts WEREN’T fixed on wealth or fame or comfort.

AD 30. Probably only months after Jesus’ resurrection. Saul of Tarsus was at the top of his field. A Jewish Pharisee and academic. Energetic, intelligent, ambitious, well-connected, well-trained. Headed for big things. Until the risen Jesus grabbed him, and turned his life, and its priorities, on its head. He’s what Saul, also known as Paul the Apostle, said later. Philippians 3:4

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

They were HIS TREASURES. What he USED TO think were important. Until Jesus grabbed hold of him. He continues. (probably my favourite verses in the Bible)

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I CONSIDER THEM RUBBISH, that I may GAIN CHRIST 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…. 10 I WANT TO KNOW CHRIST and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his , 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the .

That’s where Paul’s HEART was / because that’s where his TREASURE lay. Gaining Christ. Being found in him. Knowing the power of his resurrection.

Two. Jim Elliot was a Bible college student in the 1950’s who gave up a comfortable life and career in America to take the news about Jesus to a tribe of Indians in Ecuador. … He was ed by them in Jan, 1956, within days of landing by plane on the river near their isolated, jungle-bound village. The diary he left behind records where HIS heart was. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

He’d given up comfort and career and safety and family/ so he might gain something MUCH MORE VALUABLE. The reward of his heavenly Father. An eternity of joy and riches. The commendation of his Lord. He counted it all as worthless because Jesus told him to take up his cross and follow him. It’s not foolish to do THAT.

Now let me tell you about a of guys a little closer to home. First. A finance whiz. I’ll call him Rob. He made a motza with Macquarie Bank. And took early retirement.

He’d made enough money for his entire life by the time he was forty. Sound familiar? Think you know where this story is going? Now he lives by the beach, plays golf, takes life easy, and lives off his investments?

No, instead, he went off to Bible college. Now, he’s a self-funded ministry worker in a country NSW Presbyterian church. It costs the church nothing, but they have a full-time assistant doing all sorts of ministry, helping the church grow. Encouraging people to follow Jesus. That’s his TREASURE. That’s where his heart is.

Finally. Another Presbyterian. A man I’ll call Russell. Probably only 50. He attends a Presbyterian church here in Sydney. I studied with him at PTC for a year. An incredibly gifted businessman. He made, I’m guessing, millions while he was young. And then he retired in his 40’s. He set up a charity trust that donates money to Christian ministries. He spends his days overseeing that. Working hard, looking for ways to spend his money on things that LAST.

That’s where HIS heart’s fixed. Where’s YOUR heart?

These are everyday people taking courageous, revolutionary, counter-intuitive decisions. Giving up what seems to the world as valuable.

Why? (pause) The SIMPLE answer is / because Jesus TELLS them to. And they’ve answered his call. Jesus says, Mt 6:19

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It makes sense when Jesus puts it that way. When you take a LONG TERM VIEW. When you compare 70 years, to ETERNITY. It seems pretty dumb to focus on stuff that WON’T LAST, that breaks, or gets pinched, or you lose interest in, or that gets superseded. Obvious.

How valuable is the treasure?

But it’s MORE THAN just a question of TIME FRAME. It’s a question of VALUE.

Jesus is offering treasure in HEAVEN. Treasure from God the Father. That’s got to be worth MUCH MORE than anything THIS WORLD offers.

We get some idea of HOW valuable / if we look at THE REST of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. OTHER places where he talks about being REWARDED by your Father in heaven.

Jump back to Ch 5 v10. Jesus says God’s reward is better than security and reputation. Matt 5:10-12

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN…

We’ll do almost ANYTHING to avoid being abused or hurt. For people not to insult us, or think poorly of us. But Jesus says the reward in heaven is BETTER than security and comfort and reputation. That we’re BLESSED.

Or jump down to v46 of Ch 5. Some people make it their life’s ambition to GET JUSTICE. They’ve been wronged, and someone’s going to pay. But Jesus says that your reward in heaven is worth much more than PERSONAL JUSTICE. From v43.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Let go of the need, says Jesus, to GET EVEN. To PAY BACK. Then he says in v46.

46 If you love those who love you, WHAT REWARD WILL YOU GET? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

God’s REWARD is for those who value love and forgiveness MORE than personal justice. Who BEAR injustice, rather than miss out on heavenly treasure. Who value getting God’s reward more than getting even.

Into Ch 6. Jesus says God’s reward is greater than ADMIRATION AND ACCLAIM FROM OTHERS. V1.

6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, YOU WILL HAVE NO REWARD FROM YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.

Don’t be a show-off. If your heart’s set on HUMAN APPROVAL, that’s ALL YOU’LL GET. Instead, says Jesus, v3.

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, WILL REWARD YOU.

GOD’S approval comes to those who SEEK it, above ANYTHING ELSE. What God really likes is when we’re NOT being concerned with people’s opinion of us. When God’s opinion is number one. That’s a reward more valuable than the rest.

And finally, in TODAY’S verses, we see that treasure in heaven is greater than earthly possessions. Ch 6 v19.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, … 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,

Where are YOU storing up treasure? Is it in any of those areas? If it is, you’re missing out on a much GREATER treasure. The one GOD gives.

(pause) And Jesus adds. For where your TREASURE is, there your HEART will be also. It’s an interesting way of putting it.

Whatever is number one will govern your life. If you think career is the greatest treasure, or security, or things. If you think safety, or family, or acceptance are most important. Then that’s where YOUR HEART WILL FLY. Where your DESIRES will be found. Where you’ll FIXATE. Where you’ll DAYDREAM. Where you’ll place your PRIORITIES.

And the things of God’s kingdom will be squeezed out.

WE TEND TO MOVE TOWARDS WHATEVER WE FIX OUR GAZE ON. At PY Winter Camp this year, one of the group activities involved each Bible study group following a series of instructions using a compass. They had walk a certain number of steps in a certain direction, stop, place a marker, then follow another compass bearing for a certain number of steps, and so on. Caron and I had to mark each group on how well they traced out the correct shape on the oval.

Those groups whose leader kept his head down, watching his feet or his compass, tended to wobble all over the place. Their lines were crooked, their shapes were wonky. Their gaze was fixed on the ground.

But with SOME groups, the leader kept her eyes UP. She decided what the compass bearing was, then fixed her gaze on a distant object that was on the right bearing, then walked straight towards it. THOSE groups got high marks. Their lines were straight, their shapes were perfect. The leader was clear and certain because her gaze was on something distant. And the group travelled WELL.

It’s the same with our lives. We drift relentlessly towards where our treasures are stored. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If, above all else, you want to make a lot of money, buy a bigger house, have a great holiday, get a promotion, beat your competitor, build your reputation, or prove your point, you’ll be devoured by those goals, and the values of the kingdom will be squeezed out. None of those goals ARE BAD. But it’s about what’s your ULTIMATE treasure. What you value ABOVE ALL ELSE.

Where’s YOUR treasure?

What is the TREASURE?

So what’s THE ALTERNATIVE? If we’re NOT to focus on TEMPORARY, EARTHLY things. What ARE we to focus on? What IS the TREASURE?

On ONE level, it’s about things we won’t see NOW. That we’ll only see INTO ETERNITY. But on ANOTHER level, it’s about beginning to experience those things NOW that we’ll enjoy COMPLETELY into ETERNITY.

When the Bible talks about eternity. About God’s new heaven and new earth, it describes it in terms of joy, contentment and peace, without sin, brokenness, pain and tears. It talks about health and healing, of work and responsibility without fatigue. It talks about feasts, and riches and inheritance and community.

All treasures God gives. THEN.

But they’re also good things we can enjoy something of NOW. In a dim, broken, hungry sort of way. Recognising that they’re GOOD, and that they SATISFY – SORT OF. But never being FULLY SATISFIED. Eternity will be about all those things without limit or barrier or end.

But the best thing, the greatest reward, the greatest TREASURE will be GOD HIMSELF. All of that stuff, without God, isn’t heaven. If that’s where your heart is/ then it’s still not fixed on GOD. It’s still stuck on earthly shadows, rather than on the AUTHOR of it all.

Eternity’s reward will be experiencing and enjoying the presence of God himself. And his Son Jesus. Worship without restraint or sham or barriers. Complete, comfortable peace, contentment and intimacy, embraced by God himself. Receiving his warm approval for our labours and faith and suffering. The “well done, good and faithful servant” from Jesus our king.

Once again, one we can begin to experience NOW. In an incomplete sort of way.

That’s what we SHOULD be setting our heart on. That’s the treasure we should be building. It’s the greatest treasure there is.

And it’s the one we’re designed to get the greatest enjoyment out of. One we can GET A TASTE OF NOW. In fact, it’s the goal of our LIFE to be experiencing and enjoying God NOW

Steven Curtis Chapman, in his song See the glory says

“Sometimes it feels like I’m playin’ Gameboy in the middle of the Grand Canyon. I’m eatin’ candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast. Splashin in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean. What is wrong with me? Wake up and see the glory”

It’s an idea he and others have acknowledged they get from the author C.S. Lewis, who says: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We set our hearts on LESSER things, and end up MISSING OUT on the GREATER treasure. The GREATEST ENJOYMENT of GOD HIMSELF. We are designed to find true satisfaction, true joy, infinite joy, as Lewis said it, only in God and God alone, when His glory is at the center of all things, when we delight in Him and His and greatness.

My favourite Christian author, John Piper has THIS as his life motto: “God is most glorified in us when we are most SATISFIED in Him.” Enjoying God. Now. That’s our life’s goal. That’s the greatest treasure to be setting your heart on.

God has so much more for us than the mud pies of worldly pursuits, and the trivial and temporary things here on earth we put so much importance on.

Make him your treasure, and that’s where your HEART will be.

How can you store it up?

But how can you go about DOING that? How can you store it up? Prying your gaze away from rusty, moth-eaten trinkets, and fixing it on higher, greater things. On God himself?

Jesus says, “Be single-minded. You can’t serve two masters.” There in v24. You can’t two-time God, and expect your heart to be fixed on him. You can’t SAY God’s your treasure. But then be longingly looking over your shoulder at what you USED to treasure.

In some ways, it’s simply a matter of the will. I’m going to MAKE him my treasure. My number one. Even if I don’t FEEL like it. I’m going to crush everything else. Whatever it is that’s number ONE. And throw my energy into getting to know God well. Knowing his word, his people, his desires and goals.

Being in church. Meeting God in his word and his people. Glimpsing him in the words and music of songs and prayer. Seeing him working in the lives of others. Being encouraged to keep seeking him, and keep serving him by others.

When I do THAT, my HEART will FOLLOW.

Making God your treasure instead of THINGS isn’t theological theory. It’s concrete. Real. It involves making countless decisions to serve ONE master. To value ONE TREASURE.

As Jesus describes it in these chapters. To receive God’s reward, his treasure. You’ll need to…. love instead of , turn the other cheek, break the cycle of revenge and justice.

You’ll need to speak up when the opportunity arises. You’ll need to put up with an uncomfortable conversation, weird treatment, name calling, rather than miss out on the Father’s reward.

You’ll need to give in secret, without concern for reputation.

You’ll need to remove the money, bin the catalogues, sell off the boat.

You’ll need to turn down the promotion, settle for the cheaper version, make do with last year’s , give up the dream.

That’s the way to break the addiction. The fixation on earthly treasures. Starve it, and it will die. Cut off its supply and it will shrivel and die.

Pray for God to be changing your desires. To enable you to see rusting, putrid things for what they really are. DECIDE where your treasure is. Then your HEART will gradually come to LOVE those things.

Let me finish with some lessons Paul learnt about these things. Writing to Timothy. A younger man. 1 Tim 6

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

That’s not falling for the treasures of THIS life that don’t last. Instead set your heart of the GREATEST treasure, God. V17

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to PUT THEIR HOPE IN GOD, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

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