Sermon Extra – True Treasure

February 7, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


The wise man of Proverbs reminds us, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30).  Envy, the wise man says, is dangerous.  However, envy is also such a universal part of the human condition that God finds it necessary to warn us against it time and time again.  He even prohibits it in His Ten Commandments:  “You shall not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

Part of what makes the sin of envy so dangerous is that because it can be engaged in privately, it can often go unnoticed and, even if people do spot envy in your eye, there are little to no repercussions.  Though you may get arrested for stealing, no such punishment exists for envying.  Indeed, we even have a saying that encourages envy:  “You can look, but you can’t touch.”  The under-riding premise of such a statement is that it although it is not okay to take something defiantly, it is okay to lust after it longingly.  It is okay to envy.

This past weekend, we continued our “Fit for Life II” series with a look at our hearts and how they are connected to our finances.  The message was based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-21:

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

As I mentioned in my message, when we read words like these, we can be tempted to think, “Jesus’ words don’t apply to me.  I don’t store up for myself treasures on earth because I don’t have any treasures!  This economy has hit me really hard!”  And so we dismiss out of hand Jesus’ words about how our hearts and treasures are connected.

It is important to understand that when Jesus spoke these words, He spoke them not to people who were well-to-do, but to people who were poverty-stricken.  The crowds who listened to Jesus were most likely comprised of simple Palestinian farmers and tradesmen who would have been making around a denarius a day, equivalent to about 20 cents in today’s currency.  Thus, Jesus is calling on people who must live on 20 cents a day not to store up earthly treasure!  These people hardly seem like a group who would need this kind of reminder!  But Jesus knows the sad state of the human condition.  Even among the poor, storing up the wrong treasure in the wrong place can become a huge problem.  At issue is not the amount of money that a person has, but the perception of money that a person holds.  A person can be greedy and poor all at the same time.  For a poor person, like a rich person, can envy those who have more money and earthly treasure than they.  This is why Jesus continues:

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)

The ancients believed that the eyes were a source of light that helped illumine the world around, thereby helping a person see.  When the light of the eyes went dark, a person would go blind.  Thus, Jesus says, “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  But Jesus means to describe more than just physical blindness here.  He says, “If your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”  The Greek word for “bad” is poneros, meaning “evil.”  The eyes, just like any other part of the body, can be used for evil.  The eyes can be used to gaze and covet.  The eyes can be used to stare and envy.  Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t you use your eyes to look at someone else’s money or lifestyle and secretly desire it for yourself.  And this, Jesus says, is poneros.

What is the solution to such envy and covetousness?  The apostle Paul says it is to “know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).  Rather than seeking and striving after the treasures of this world, we are to seek and to strive after Christ.  For in Him is true treasure.  So treasure Christ, for He treasures you.  In the words of C.H. Spurgeon, “So did Jesus Himself, at the utmost cost, buy the world to gain His Church, which was the treasure which He desired.”  You are Christ’s treasure.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Zach’s
message or Dr Player’s ABC!

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