Sermon Notes: Matthew 6:19-24

Human desires are deep waters and a tangle of tensions that are a challenge to navigate once we become followers of Jesus. 

Why? Because only then do we have renewed sight to see the web, a new heart to feel the tension, and the ability to move toward the kingdom of God.

Before we had the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we were ruled by desires that were bent toward the dark kingdom, and we likely never questioned those desires unless we got ourselves into a really bad situation. 

Now, in Christ, we have a new heart that produces new desires that are opposite of the dark kingdom. These desires conflict with the kingdom of darkness that is still trying to influence us in parts of our being that the Bible calls “the flesh”. 

What used to “feel” so right, now comes with a slight pause, and hopefully, a growing dissatisfaction that increases as we grow in maturity in Christ.

The problem? There is part of us called “the flesh” still bent toward the desires of the dark kingdom. 

Desire is powerful, and it’s a way the Father has wired human beings to operate. 

To desire something in such a way that it inspires and motivates the mind and the body to good action is what you might call a “holy or good desire”.

To desire something in such a way that it inspires and motivates the mind and the body to deceptively dark actions is what you might call an “unholy desire”.

Desire feels good, and until our souls are transformed, sin just doesn’t feel bad, it feels normal.

When we become followers of Jesus and are given new hearts and the Holy Spirit, the Lord begins what the Bible calls “sanctification”. We begin wanting to act more like Jesus, and we actually act more like Jesus as we grow. 

Sanctification is sometimes moved forward through good “desires”, and these good “desires” are often what guide wise Christian decision-making. 

Psalm 37:4 (CSB) 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Paul captures a snapshot of this battle between good and holy desires pitted against the desires of the dark kingdom in Romans 7. 

This battle is real, and Jesus speaks to it in our text today.

THE BIG IDEA: What Jesus begins to address in 6:19-24 is that we look at and strive after what we desire, and THAT is our treasure, and what we treasure indicates what really owns us. Jesus wants us to treasure him and his kingdom because that brings the Father glory and results in our flourishing. 

How do we make sure we treasure Jesus’ kingdom and set our eyes on him? 

  1. Do not treasure “possessions” more than Jesus. 6:19, 24
    1. I’m choosing the word “possessions” here because Jesus is going to say “money” explicitly in verse 24, and here in verse 19 the word “treasures” is literally “valuables”.
      1. NOTE: the word “money” is “mammon”, and can also be translated as possessions.
        1. My belief is that Jesus’ use of these two different words forces us to see his point and that is we are not to let any “possession” be treasured above God.
          1. So, we don’t want to let “money” operate as a false “god” by even taking up the majority of the space right now.
            1. We can set a multitude of “possessions” up as little “gods” whether they are monetary currency or not.
              1. Example: One’s theological presuppositions can provide social currency among some groups to earn some standing among some people and thus serve as a “god” that helps a person achieve some valued position they value above even God. 
      2. So, what Jesus is addressing here is what we consider to have value on plane with God.
        1. This can be money or a list of things longer than we have space for. 
      3. So, to make sure we are trying to be true to Jesus’ intent, we are going to say “possessions” to make sure we cover anything we might place as equal to or above Jesus in value. 
    2. “Do not store up” is imperative.
      1. Jesus is giving a command. 
      2. The command is that we not place anything with temporary value in the place of God, who is eternal. 
      3. What does Jesus mean by “store up”?
        1. He does not mean to avoid wealth.
          1. Jesus is not saying here nor does the Bible tell us to not save for the future or to avoid making lots of money.
            1. The Proverbs make clear it’s wise to store up for a rainy day, and the Bible affirms working hard to earn currency for all manner of good things. 
            2. The point is to not worship security for the rainy day or riches. 
          2. See Proverbs 6:6-8; 1 Timothy 4:3-4; 1 Timothy 5:8
            1. There is wisdom in earning, saving, being generous, and using wealth for sustenance and good. 
        2. He is commanding us to not selfishly accumulate wealth as our security. 
          1. The reason is that the desire to have more and more and more is rooted in a heart that trusts the “more” above God.
            1. And that “more and more and more” can be applied to whatever we are valuing above God himself. 
          2. And this is a thin line all of us must walk.
            1. I don’t know where that line is for you.
            2. Our flesh is an idol factory, and we must know ourselves to know how to navigate this space. 
        3. Jesus’ reason is that these “possessions” are temporary and limited in their provision of real hope.
          1. Moth and rust and theft can steal these things. 
        4. What can’t be destroyed or stolen is Jesus and his established reign. 
  2. Do treasure and store goods that are rooted in the eternal kingdom. 6:20
    1. This is the second command Jesus gives.
      1. We are commanded to store up some goods for eternity. 
    2. Jesus is clear here that there are deposits we make that will pay out when he fully establishes his kingdom upon his return.
      1. What kind of deposits can we make for eternal reward?
        1. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (CSB) 17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.
          1. Store up rewards by being rich in good works. 
          2. Store up rewards by being generous and willing to share. 
      2. What kind of reward might we expect?
        1. The Bible is silent on this question, but it does tell us about how God will remove the things that won’t last.
          1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (CSB) 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved—but only as through fire.
  3. Be aware that what we treasure is where our allegiance is. 6:21
    1. On this side of the full establishment of the kingdom of God, there will always be some kind of challenge for full allegiance to Jesus.
      1. Therefore, we are to be aware of what we treasure, be aware of our inclinations, and be ready to self-correct at a moment’s notice.
        1. Do not allow treasures to allure you away from Jesus and his kingdom. 
  4. Be aware that our eyes feed what we treasure. 6:22-23
    1. There is something supernatural about the eyes of human beings.
      1. This is why it’s hard to look people in the eye if the truth is lacking or if there is damage or hurt in the soul. 
      2. The gaze of physical eyes is somehow attached to the desires of the heart such that often we might hear the phrase “the eyes of my heart”. 
      3. What we stare at in our desires is what we look at with our physical eyes, and what we look at with our physical eyes will feed the desires of our hearts.
        1. If our hearts and eyes are fixed on dark things, we only get darker. 
        2. If our hearts and eyes are fixed on good things, we will move toward good things. 
    2. Since verse 22-23 is smack in the middle of Jesus’ instructions about loving possessions above God, it would be wise for us to understand that Jesus is warning us about setting our hearts on “possessions” that will take us down a path of a dark pursuit of any “possession” that will pillage our souls.
      1. When we put anything in the place that only Jesus should possess, we have set up a false “god”. 
      2. Listen to what the Psalmist says happens when we put false “gods” in our lives.
        1. Psalms 115:4-8 (CSB) 4 Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. 5 They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 6 They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7 They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
          1. We start to become like what we treasure, and we must watch out for this grotesque and awful perversion of ourselves when we set a “possession” above Jesus. 
  5. Treasure God and his kingdom above all things. 6:24
    1. Proverbs 4:23 (CSB) 23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
      1. We simply cannot have two “Gods”. We can only be servants to one master at a time.
        1. If we belong to “possessions”, then they will rule us and us Christian sub-culture folks can try to make Jesus serve those ends in all manner of vile ways.
          1. False teachings with the t-shirt of Bible verses. 
          2. Faulty logic rooted in false absolutes that are made absolutes by man, not God’s word. 
          3. Majoring on what the Bible minors on or is obscure on. 
          4. Using the Bible to justify my presuppositions rather than letting God’s word define my presuppositions.  
        2. When Jesus sits on the throne of someone’s life, they will put to death the worship of anything but him. 

Application: Treasure assessment

(THE BELOW QUESTIONS ARE ADAPTED FROM HERE: George Macdonald, Christ in Creation (Carol Stream, IL: Harold Shaw, 1978), p. 204.)

  1. Are there any possessions (things or status or relationship) that dominate your gaze and affection?
    1. What occupies your thoughts when you get still? What occupies our daydreams? These may be what we treasure. Assess them carefully.
      1. Money?
      2. Security?
      3. Theology? Yes, we can worship the study of God because it insulates us from actually doing what God calls us to do in the world. 
      4. Spiritual goods and services you can’t live without?
      5. Work? 
      6. People’s perception of who you present yourself to be?
  1. What is it that we fret about most?
  1. Apart from our family, what or whom do we most dread losing?
  1. What are some things that we measure others by? This question is a very revealing mirror because we measure other people by what we treasure.
    1. Do we measure others by their clothing, their education, their theology, their homes, their athletic prowess, and their success?
  1. What is it that we cannot be happy without?

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