Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 22

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

Do Your Possessions Own You?

Read Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 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!

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.”

“Mrs. Bertha Adams, 71 years old from West Palm Beach Fl. Died alone.  Cause of death? Malnutrition. Wasted away to 50 pounds. House upon examination was a veritable pigpen, the worst you could imagine. She begged for food from her neighbors. Clothing from the Salvation Army. Digging through her stuff, authorities found two keys to two safety deposit boxes. The first box contained over 700 certificates for A.T. & T. stocks plus hundreds of other valuable note, bonds, and solid financial securities. Also, over $200,000 in cash. The second box had no certificates but had over $600,000 in cash! She was a millionaire and then some.” (The Sermon on the Mount by Kent Hughes, pg. 209) This amazing but true story shows us that for some, possessions actually possess us rather than the other way around.

As we turn to a new section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jim Boice writes, “After the great teachings in the first half of Matt 6 about the spiritual life of the Christian, the Lord Jesus Christ turned to warnings about the personal failures that most often deprive a believer of spiritual victories and nullify his witness. In these verses, beginning with Matt 6:19 and continuing through Matt 7:5, Jesus warns against a love of possessions, anxiety, and a judgmental attitude towards others.” (The Sermon on the Mount by Jim Boice pg. 213)

Are there other instances in the Scriptures where God’s people struggled with the accumulation of and love for possessions? We read in the book of Joshua where Achan was guilty of hiding the spoils of war after the battle to take the city of Jericho. His sin not only caused the loss of a battle but ultimately cost him his life. As we read through the history books (I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and Chronicles) and in the book of Ecclesiastes, we read of the detrimental effects that wealth had on Solomon’s heart. In the New Testament we read of the greed of Annanias and Sapphira. I Timothy 6:10 warns that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

Money in the Bible is neither condemned nor is it seen as an evil. In Acts 4:32ff we read of the positive views of money and giving in generosity. Private property is not condemned and is upheld in the Ten Commandments. Christ in this section is not speaking against money or possessions but the misuse of them. Are they consuming our thoughts and lives?

Christ here is talking about what and where our possessions lie. He cautions against gathering and storing up too many possessions or treasures here on earth. “The reason is that one day all earthly possessions will perish and will be gone forever, and since that is the case, a man who has spent his life accumulating them may himself be saved, but he will have nothing to show for what should have been a lifetime of profitable service.” (Boice, pg. 215) Kent Hughes asks, “The question we should ask ourselves about our present pursuits is - how important will they be 100 million trillion years from now?” (The Sermon on the Mount by Kent Hughes, pg. 212)

It seems a strange transition or connection that Jesus makes or draws next as He begins to talk about the eye and it’s being the lamp to the body. Years ago, I started a window cleaning business with a friend. We cleaned some really dirty windows but the worst windows were always in the homes of people who smoked. Each window was covered with a dirty, yellow hazy film of tar and tobacco smoke. They took a great deal longer to clean, but when they were uncovered, the amount of light that poured in through them seemed so much brighter. Christ here talks about the eye being regarded as the window into a man’s heart and soul and being, into his whole life. The light that gets into a man’s heart and mind depends upon the spiritual state of the eye through which it has to pass. Do we see things spiritually clearly or is our vision of God and life distorted by faulty seeing? Do we look at life and possessions through the lens of Christ and the Bible, or do we look at the Bible and Christ through the lens of our lives and our possessions?

When things (possessions, cars, money, houses, clothes, TVs, four wheelers, boats, guns, you name it) begin to have a larger and larger grip on our hearts and a more prominent place in our lives, we begin to see life through them. When these things grown in importance, when they take more and more of our time and energy and passion, other things get pushed out, and our view becomes hazy toward them. Then things take the center position in our hearts, and we view other important things differently. When a car becomes more and more important, we spend money and time caring for it, money and time that can be spent pursuing more eternal things. When the accumulation of money becomes the driving force in our lives, we push people and time with the Lord aside, because often going after the first is in conflict with going after the second.

Christ concludes this section by reminding us that we cannot serve two masters, especially two masters from two different worlds. Materialism and the pursuit of wealth for selfish gain are from this world, a world controlled by Satan, and it is not compatible with the Kingdom of God.

Choose this day whom you will serve.

So, What Now?

Have our possessions come to possess us instead of the other way around? How important are things to us? One measure of how important money is to us is whether or not we are giving to the Lord through tithes and offerings. If you do not tithe or give to the church, talk with someone who does and ask how you might begin to obey the Lord in this area.