Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.
Having finished Titus I’m going to preach on Matthew 6:19-24 (money) this week and expository preaching next week before beginning to work our way through 1 Peter on May 29th. For different reasons I’m eagerly looking forward to each. To help explain why I’m excited to preach on money consider the following silly analogy.
What would you think if I told you that I had a tool that would allow all of us (legal) unlimited access to every vending machine in the world? For most of us, that’d be really good news. We might start a parade or name a day after that tool. Food. Drinks. Cool toys for kids. Best Buy has technology vending machines. That’d be a pretty remarkable tool, one we’d probably all want to have.
Before you go all in, though, you should know that there’s another aspect of this tool that’s not quite so appealing: if used incorrectly it will cause you to lose the use of all of your limbs—you’ll quickly become paralyzed.
Now the instructions will be clear. It’s not as if you’ll have to wonder whether or not you’re using the tool rightly or wrongly. You won’t need to play around with it in order to figure it out. You’ll know exactly how to use the tool for unlimited vending machine withdraws and exactly what type of misuse would cause paralysis.
So who wants the tool?
You may be surprised to find out that the bible talks about just such a tool and that we’re all already using it (either rightly for our benefit or wrongly for our destruction). That is, the bible is clear on the fact that God has created a tool that, if used correctly, blesses us by allowing us to know for certain the condition of our hearts, be a blessing to the entire world in amazing ways, and best yet worship God in glorious and everlasting bliss. The bible is also clear that on the other hand, though, if used wrongly, this tool curses us by leading us to counterfeit happiness, exclusively empty pursuits and worse yet, to the eternal destruction of our souls.
The tool I’m talking about is money. While many people think of money in atheological terms (not really having anything to do with God or faith in him), it is one of the most significant theological tools given to us by God.
I’m excited to preach this sermon because it gets right to the heart of the Christian life in a very tangible way. Our view and use of money is one of those things that can’t easily be faked (at least not to ourselves), and as such reveals as clearly as anything the authenticity (or lack thereof) of our professions of faith in Jesus.
This week, then, I want to share with you (from Matthew 6:19-24) several things not to do with money and then several to do with money. Please pray with me that God’s word would be clear to us in its meaning and application regarding money. And please pray with me that we’d all use it as God intended: to gain everlasting treasure.
HOW TO USE MONEY FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR SOUL
Let’s start by considering how to use money if you want it to lead you to counterfeit happiness, exclusively empty pursuits, and the destruction of your soul. In other words, let’s first see what this passage has to say about how not to use money.
Specifically, we must not hoard it, trust in it, serve it, or love it.
Hoard it (v.19). Please look with me at the beginning of v.19. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” You’ve probably noticed that money itself (physical currency) isn’t significant at all. By design our money is practically worthless. The paper and ink that our bills are printed on (the internet tells me) are worth about $.05. Interestingly, pennies cost almost $.02 to make and nickels cost $.08. Nevertheless, the paper and coins of our currency are worth almost nothing of their own. To further stress this point, for most of us physical currency is largely a thing of the past. We have very little actual cash or coins. Our money exists almost entirely in the digital world. And in this sense, it truly is worthless.
To state the obvious, then, none of us are after the currency itself. Rather, we’re after that which the currency allows us to get. And yet, because (in most economies at least) it is the currency alone that allows us to get things, money and things are virtually synonymous. Therefore, when the bible talks about laying up treasures, in our context that means money or the things it can buy.
With that, the first thing to see from v.19 is that we are to lay up or store up or hoard neither (money or stuff). God may choose to financially bless us, but Christians are not to seek to accumulate money or possessions for their own sake. Stated simply, if we desire to honor God with our money we cannot be people who gather it as an end in itself.
The latter half of the verse gives one reason for this, which leads to the next way to use money for the destruction of our soul.
Trust in it (v.19). We are not to hoard money or things because, v.19 says, moth and rust can destroy these things and thieves can break in and steal them. In other words, they are temporary and vulnerable, and therefore not worthy of placing our trust in. Generally speaking people seem to put their trust in money for two things: pleasure and protection.
We are mistakenly prone to trust in money to satisfy us. That is we mistakenly trust that money will provide for us the things we need to be happy. First of all this isn’t true. At best, money and things can only provide temporary satisfaction through counterfeit means. Stuff does satisfy, but always, only temporarily and narrowly. Video games are fun for a few days or weeks. New clothes do make us feel good about ourselves for a few months. The new car or boat is nice to drive for a while. The new, bigger, nicer house is great for a few years. And yet, even the temporary satisfaction of money and stuff can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. Therefore, we must not trust in them for our pleasure. The desire for pleasure, joy, happiness, satisfaction is good—God created us with it—but the paces we seek them make all the difference.
Similarly, Christians must not trust in money for protection. We like to hoard it because we believe that it will allow us to live safely and comfortably. But this too is a mistaken place to put our trust. It cannot deliver. It wasn’t designed to. Money and things give the appearance of being able to do so, but they will always, ultimately let us down. Moth and rust can destroy and thieves can steal from even the most fortified buildings and carefully laid retirement plans.
We must not hoard or trust in money if we want to honor God and find true life and joy in him.
Serve it (v.24). Verse 24 gives us two more ways to use money for the destruction of our souls. The first way is revealed right at the beginning in the words, “no one can serve two masters.” Christians must not serve money.
We serve money by doing its bidding. That is, we serve money when it becomes our priority, it demands our allegiance, and it controls our actions. This happens when we want allow our hearts to want certain things (even things that may not be bad in themselves) more than we want God. We become consumed by the desire to gain those things.
This service of money causes some to work constantly (often at the expense of family and friends and ministry). It causes some to gamble or play the lottery. It causes some to rack up significant debt (credit card debt or a too-big mortgage debt). And it causes some to simply wallow in unhappiness in the knowledge that they will likely never get their heart’s desire.
We’re called to serve God and find life. And yet some choose instead to serve money and find death. As the end of the verse makes absolutely clear, we cannot serve both God and money.
Love it (v.24). The final way this passage speaks to the wrong (or destructive) use of money is by loving it. Loving money closely parallels serving money. To serve money is to give it our allegiance. To love money is to give it our affections.
While God calls us to love him above all, the lure of money can cause us to love it instead. We must not give into its siren call. It is not capable of bearing the weight of our affections. It cannot return them. It will suck us dry and then leave us naked and alone. Our love is not to be given to the things of God apart from God. That is a dangerous and deadly trap that many have fallen into.
Solomon says it perfectly (of course) in Ecclesiastes 5:10: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income…
And perhaps most pointedly, Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:9-10: “…those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Grace, hoarding money, trusting in money, serving money, and loving money will destroy us. Do not let any of these be the case in your life. It really is a choice between hoarding, trusting in, serving, and loving either money or God. We cannot do both. It is a choice between life and death. We cannot have both. And it is a choice between real satisfaction and security and the illusion of these things. It cannot be both.
And yet, God is gracious and kind. If God grants you the ability to see that you’d mishandled your money or your affections in regards to money, confess and repent, and he will forgive you. What’s more, he will change you. He will give you new desires and affections. He will give you a true place to attach your trust and service and love: himself.
Lovingly, God has not only given us the way of money-destruction, he has also given us the way of money-treasure. Let’s go there now.
HOW TO USE MONEY TO GAIN UNLIMITED ETERNAL TREASURE
Again, we just looked at how not to use money—how to use it for counterfeit happiness, exclusively empty pursuits, and the destruction of our soul. This same passage speaks to a different way of using money too. It speaks to how we should use money—of how to use money to reveal the authenticity of your salvation, bless the world and worship God. It gives us two such ways. Christians ought to use money to gain real treasure and to authenticate our faith.
Use it to gain real treasure (v.20). While money hoarded, trusted in, served, and loved kills, money is really meant to lead us to real treasure. Jesus does not tell us in this passage what exactly constitutes heavenly treasure (he assumes his listeners already understand), but he does make two things exceedingly clear.
First, he makes clear the fact that we should want treasure. The problem with us is not that we want treasure. The problem with us is that we want the wrong treasure. God’s people are not commanded to not store up treasure. We are commanded not to store up the wrong kind of treasure. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but [instead] lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
This point is hard to overstate. God is a treasure-giving God. Following Jesus does not mean giving ourselves to a pious life of joyless, treasureless, dutiful sacrifice. Following Jesus does mean turning from the fake treasures of this world to the real treasures of the next, though.
The second thing that Jesus makes clear in this passage is that heavenly treasure alone is indestructible and eternal. As we just saw, we should want treasure, real treasure. But we should want the kind that can never be destroyed or taken away. That’s what Jesus means when he says that his followers should store up heavenly treasure where “neither moth nor rust destroys and…thieves do not break in and steal”.
Grace, while this passage doesn’t tell us exactly what heavenly treasure is, the rest of the bible is clear from beginning to end. Real, eternal, heavenly treasure is reconciliation and fellowship with God through Jesus.
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Psalm 16:11 in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Philippians 3:8 I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
The practical outworking of all of this as it relates to a God-honoring use of money is that money gives us the opportunity to gain heavenly treasure–not by purchasing it (we cannot buy God’s forgiveness or favor or fellowship, for ourselves or others), but by using it to:
- Demonstrate the superiority of the pleasure of God above all earthly treasures. Grace, we have money so that we can show how little we value it compared to God. Because the world around us frantically scrambles to gain it and spend it on symbols of status and worldly pleasures, we have the opportunity to live lives of real contrast by holding it so loosely. The less our hearts are given to the things of this world (like money), the more we put on display the beauty and majesty and glory of God.
- Demonstrate the trustworthiness of God above all earthly offerings of security. Similarly, we have money so that we can show that our trust is in God.
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy…Grace, give your money away to gospel causes, even beyond your means as the Macedonian Christians did in 2 Corinthians 8:3. Let’s do so for the sake of putting God’s ability to provide in miraculous ways on display. God made fresh bread come out of the ground every morning for the Israelites. God made water come out of a rock for the Israelites. God made a few fish and loaves of bread feed 5000 during Jesus’ earthly ministry. God took my salary of $44k in 2011 and allowed us to cover the $40k adoption costs of our daughter.
God’s provides for us, not our jobs or retirement plans or insurance or savings or social security. Sometimes God provides for us through them, but he is in no way limited by them. We use our money rightly when we use it to demonstrate the trustworthiness of God above all earthly things. Take gospel-advancing financial risks.
- Demonstrate the higher value of the things God values above the things this world values. Similarly, while most people around us are slaving away day after day to get a bigger TV or take a longer, more exotic vacation, or keep up with the latest fashions, let us stand out and honor God by valuing the things God values. Most notably: orphans, widows, refugees, the poor and needy, and those without the gospel. Let’s give ourselves and our money to those things and find life and joy. Let’s support the cause of the vulnerable and gospel-less. Let’s give gobs of money to the things of God instead of the things of earth.
- Finally, the practical outworking of all of this is that money gives us the opportunity to gain heavenly treasure by using it to demonstrate the reality that to live is Christ and to die is gain. This is perhaps a summary of all the rest, but I wanted to mention it specifically because I don’t want us to miss it. We use our money rightly when people look at us and intuitively know that something outside of this world and outside of this life drives us. When we spend money in such a way that shows the bigness of Jesus and the gain of death our spending stores up treasure in heaven—the pleasure of God.
Use it to authenticate your faith (v.21-23). Lastly, we use money to gain heavenly treasure when we use it to authenticate our faith. Money is possibly the single best indicator of our heart’s desires. That is the point of vs.21-23. V.21 says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The point of this verse is that our treasure is either earthly or heavenly things. When our treasure is earthly things, our hearts (our hope and love and trust) are there too. And when our treasure is heavenly things (God himself), our hearts are there too.
What we spend our money on and what we save it for does not lie about the desires and hopes of our heart. What we spend our money on and what we save it for does not lie about the things we are trusting in. What we spend our money on and what we save it for does not lie about the objects of our allegiance and service.
Where we find ourselves joyfully and consistently using our money for the things we just looked at, it demonstrates the reality of God’s saving, transforming work in us. Where we find ourselves increasingly longing to be generous toward gospel causes and those in need it authenticates the legitimacy of our faith.
All of this is the point of vs.22-23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!“
When God breaks in and gives us new life through the gospel, light floods into our minds and hearts and scatters the darkness. Light and dark cannot coexist. Where there is light and life, money becomes a means to glorify God and bless the world. And where money is primarily a means of glorifying God and blessing the world it authenticates our faith.
We use money, then, rightly when we use it to spread the good news that God is glorious beyond measure, that he’s given us a way to be forgiven of our sins and treasure him forever, and that through him is help and blessing for all the nations. We also use money rightly when we use it to gauge the reality of our faith in Jesus—repenting when we find desires for worldly treasures and rejoicing when we find ourselves treasuring Jesus above all things.
This is not, of course, everything that the bible says about money. It is, however, a good introduction to God’s design and plans for it. At the end of the day, I want you all to hear this clearly:
Money reveals the true condition of your heart. Examine yourselves.
God doesn’t need your money and, therefore neither do we. God is able to declare his glory and build his church and save the nations through rocks. He doesn’t need our bodies or minds or talents or our money to accomplish his purposes. He is in no way bound by them.
And yet, thought he doesn’t need our bodies or minds or talents or money, he often chooses to use these things in order to bless us. Giving our money to gospel causes (to the church or missions or …), then, is not about supplying what God lacks, but about joining God in delighting in the things God delights in. If this is not why you give, stop giving. We don’t want your penance.
And so let’s forsake our earthly treasure storing, serving, trusting, and loving, and commit ourselves to storing, serving, trusting, and loving real treasure; treasure that can’t be destroyed or taken, treasure that never loses value, treasure that lasts forever and ever and ever. That treasure is fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, the true satisfaction of our souls. Amen.
- What stood out to you the most from this sermon on money? Why did this stand out?
- Is it easy for you to see where Pastor Dave’s six points came from in Matthew 6:19-24?
- What are the most significant money passages that come to your mind?
- Why do you think money and salvation are so closely tied together in the bible?
- What has it looked like in your life to hoard money? Trust in money? Serve money? Love money? have you ever thought of these things as destroying your soul?
- Have you ever intentionally/consciously used your money to gain heavenly treasure? If so, what did it look like? If not, how are you going to today?
- Which of the following four heavenly investments have you made?
* Demonstrate the superiority of the pleasure of God above all earthly treasures.
* Demonstrate the trustworthiness of God above all earthly offerings of security.
* Demonstrate the higher value of the things God values above the things this world values.
* Demonstrate the reality that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
- Have you ever intentionally/consciously looked at your spending habits to assess the condition of your heart and the authenticity of your faith? If so, what was the result? If not, do so now.
- What is one SPECIFIC thing you are going to do differently as a result of this text/sermon?