Stewardship . . . Matters (Part 6)

You can listen to the podcast for this message here.

Last week we looked at the rich young ruler. He went to Jesus seeking eternal life, but his riches got in the way of an authentic relationship with Christ as a true disciple. This morning we’ll ask the question, “What do you value most in life?” When you look at where you spend the majority of your time, energy, and money, you get a true measure of your heart.

Take a look at Matt. 6:19-21.

We need to get to the heart of the matter. Jesus has just spoken to the disciples about giving, praying, and fasting and now for something completely different. Jesus turns His attention to the issue of treasures. Treasures and giving are two different things. He issues the command in v. 19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”Treasure comes from the word that means precious metals, gems, or other valuable objects. Wealth in the old days often consisted of precious metals just like today. They also valued cloth and clothing. Remember Lydia, a seller of purple in Acts 16:14. The Prov. 31 woman is clothed in fine linen and purple and her whole house is clothed in scarlet. Samson killed 30 men in Jud. 14:19 and took their clothing to pay off a debt. An Israelite who takes his neighbor’s garment in a pledge must return it before sundown, “For that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in?” (Ex. 22:27) Clothing was quite the hot commodity in Bible days and was considered a treasure. That’s why Jesus said what He said in v. 19 and it is in the present tense. He is saying stop storing up these earthly treasures. This is a practical instruction applicable to all of us.

Metal rusts, even precious metal. Ja. 5:3, “Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” Moths eat cloth and clothing and they didn’t have moth balls. Another danger of storing your treasure on earth is that thieves steal your stuff. A burglary takes place about every 8 seconds in the U.S. 34% of burglars enter through the front door and head right to the master bedroom.

Jesus offers the contrast in v. 20, But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.Treasure stored in heaven is safe. It won’t rust, moths won’t eat it, and nobody can steal what you put there. Matt. 16:26-27, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”

So you might be asking, “How can I get treasure to store in heaven?” That is a great question. Matt. 5:46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Loving others unconditionally. Matt. 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Prayer. Matt. 10:42, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matt. 25:40, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Serving others brings eternal reward. Why all these verses from Matthew?  He was a tax collector. Remember to stigma associated with being a tax collector? They were the scum of the earth, they were thieves, they were dishonest. Now by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God, we have a tax collector that’s telling us to take a different look at reward.

It is not wrong to consider the reward for our actions. Jesus is commanding us to store up treasure in heaven. We should consider how our actions impact eternity. Col. 1:10,  “So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 1 Tim 6:18, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”One of our purposes as Christians is to do good works as evidence of our transformational relationship with Christ. It is not to achieve salvation, but as a demonstration of that salvation. Rev. 22:12, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

Jesus concludes by saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If your treasure is here on earth, Jesus is saying that is where your passion will be, that’s where your thoughts will reside, that’s where the emphasis of your life will be. Instead of trying to get all you can here, we should focus on spiritual riches. That sounds kind of corny in a culture that claims whoever has the most toys wins and success is based on your title, position, portfolio, or bank account, but it’s true.

If you work to have stuff, you’re missing the mark of a life changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When you consider the responsibility of stewardship, an examination of the priorities of our possessions must be completed. The winner in the Christian life is not the one with the most toys. Luke 12:21, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

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