to ceasarSo today we are going to continue our series on money called “Give to Caesar.”  I have to tell you I have really enjoyed this series and I told you the last time I spoke that in years gone by I wouldn’t have been very excited to talk to you about money because it was an area of my own life that wasn’t really going very well.  I have always been a lot better at spending money than I have ever been about handling money well.  It was a big time challenge for me on my own, and it didn’t get any easier for me when I got married and had children…in fact it got harder because I had more and more bills, more and more responsibilities, and more and more debt started to build.  It really put a weight on me.  I was embarrassed, frustrated, and just felt like a terrible provider for my family as I worked really hard, and at the end of each week, I realized that all we were ever really doing was just getting by.  It felt like I was constantly just spinning my tires. The stress of bills and debt was really a stressful area in my home and on my marriage…and frankly living my life just trying to feed the family, and pay my bills was hard on my heart because I wasn’t able to give and be generous.  I would have a heart to help and build into God’s kingdom, but just had no ability to do that because financially I couldn’t get things in order enough to be generous!  That was very hard on me, and that is why The Financial Peace University course meant so much to me.  It is also why I encourage people that I love to take the course!  It can be life changing when we engage the class well!  It gave me a plan.  It gave me hope.  I’m not saying I have it all down, but it is getting better every day, and just the weight of the world feels like it left my shoulders.  You see money can very easily become a real stress in your life.  It can put weight on your marriage, and your family.  It can become a real blocker from you walking in freedom and joy…which by the way is what God wants for you.

Which is why we see Jesus God in skin come to this earth and talk to us about money…a lot.  He talks to us about money more than any other topic, and this isn’t because he needs your money.  It isn’t because money is evil.  There is nothing wrong with you having money.  It’s because money can very easily slip into the wrong seat in your lives.  I told you a couple weeks ago that there will be a recurring theme in this series, and it will come out time and time again.  That theme is that God wants your love.  He wants your worship and your focus.  God is after your heart, and money more than anything else has an amazing ability to slide into the wrong seat in your life.  Money is not evil.  There is nothing wrong with you having money…and having a lot of it.  The issue is the love of money.  We are to love God, and use money as it was intended, and if we aren’t careful it can very easily slide into the wrong spot in our lives…both through greed, and through our inability to live out the Biblical principles of managing our money.

I know that a church talking about money can become a real hang up for some people.  Let’s face it, this is a sensitive area for a lot of us.  Then you throw in the religious church stuff, and it can get weird pretty quick.  There is a perception that people carry that churches are just after our wallets.  But here is the deal, in many ways I think it would be scarier if the church didn’t have the courage to address this issue.  This money thing is that big of a deal.  It is something that Jesus spoke of more than any other topic.  You can’t read your Bible without the money issue coming up and I want to tell you I am very inspired that we as a church family are studying this topic.  I love that we are being true to the scriptures and this also pumps me up so much to talk about money because it is a very personal subject for me, because it is an area of my life that is being redeemed.  I want others to be able to experience the same freedom and joy that I am finding as God heals this area in my own life and in my own home.  So I have gone from someone who would have avoided this subject all together, and was very embarrassed at what I felt was an inability for me to provide for my own family well, to someone who can’t wait to talk about this with you all!

Today we are going to look at some very important things that Jesus taught on the topic of money, and idol worship in his most famous sermon, “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This is an amazing teaching, where Jesus goes up on a hill, and his followers climbed it with him, and he just begins to drop amazing knowledge.  If you want to read The Sermon on The Mount for yourselves it is found in Matthew beginning in Chapter 5.  It is awesome and he hits a ton of very important subjects.  What we are going to focus on is a very specific portion of this sermon where Jesus talks to us about two treasures, two perspectives, two masters.  So here we go…

Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, 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. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 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! 24 “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.  NIV

So there is a lot going on here, and you probably heard at the end of this chunk of scripture a verse that has come up a lot in this series…I told you there would be a recurring theme come up in this teaching.  So what I would like to do is break down this chunk of scripture by looking at all these sets of two’s that Jesus brings up here.

Two Treasures:

So the first thing Jesus brings up is two places to store treasures, Earth and Heaven.  Jesus tells us that we need to be very careful that we aren’t storing up our treasures on this Earth where they, well they don’t last.  They rot, they decay, moth and rust destroy them and people take them.  Jesus is saying that when you store up treasures on this earth they don’t last!  Remember what we talked about two weeks ago with the eternal investment strategy?  The things of this world are very temporary and Jesus is really warning you that your earthly treasures are not safe.  Material things just do not stand the test of time.  Jesus is pretty clear with us in verse 19…

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

This is a warning to us all.  Jesus is saying that the point of your life, the goal of your life, the pursuit of your life should not be on the treasures of this earth.  We need to be very careful that we aren’t putting our identity, our hope, and our value on the things of this earth.  Putting your value on your toys, or your bank account, or your home, or your clothes for that matter sounds pretty silly but we do it.

What is really interesting is why Jesus says this is a bad idea.  He doesn’t make some super spiritual argument.  He doesn’t make it amazingly complex.  Jesus is saying this is common sense.  You don’t invest in things that don’t last.  It’s just not smart to depend on things that don’t last when you can depend on and invest in God who does.  No earthly treasure is safe.  I’m sorry but everything in the world is pushing and fighting against us.  Everything we have is making its way towards a land fill.  Now we can prolong it with yard sales, and let other people buy our junk after we are done with it but it is all heading towards extinction.  Don’t believe me?  How’s your VCR running these days?  Our kids don’t even know what that is!  How about your CD collection what happened to that!  Did you stand in line of the latest I-phone?  By the time you got the 5, the 6 came out…and guess what comes next…yeah the 6s then the 7.  All of our stuff is heading to the garbage heap, even as I say it you know that it is true, yet we would put our identity and value into the clothes we wear, or the car we drive, or the stuff of this world over putting it on God.

Jesus is not saying it is wrong to have nice stuff.  He isn’t saying that it’s immoral, or evil…he is saying it is just isn’t smart to store up treasures on Earth.  Jesus would tell you that wise people don’t invest in things that don’t last.  They don’t store up treasures on Earth but they store up treasures in Heaven, where they last forever.

You know what though, stuff is awesome isn’t it?  I can’t explain it but it always feels good when you get something new doesn’t it?  We feel better about ourselves when we get something new.  Which raises a pretty interesting question…Why would driving a new car, or putting on new pants, or carrying a new smart phone make me feel good about myself?

Well I think there is a lie we are believing in there somewhere.  We are deceived into thinking that if I just have more stuff then we will be happy and content.  The problem is that we are never content for long we just end up with more stuff…which we will either throw away or sell at a yard sale someday.

So Jesus tells us this in verse 20…

20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

We are to store up our treasures in heaven.  Not because stuff of today is bad, it just isn’t smart to invest into things that don’t last.  Really if you are going there for your value and identity you are really setting yourself up for a very bumpy ride.  Jesus wants us putting our treasures where it lasts forever which makes sense right?  Well this leads to a great question.

How do we store up our treasures in heaven?  We do this by living generous lives.  We do this by investing into eternal things.  We use our time, our energy, our money, and our talents for the advancement of God’s kingdom.  The reality is when we center our lives a round God we can live generous lives because we begin to realize that our money, and our stuff hold temporary value and they are not the central parts of our lives.  So yes, we need them to live, but no they aren’t my treasure, they aren’t my identity that is found in Jesus…so they become a resource I can leverage for things that do last, the things of God.  We are invited onto an eternal mission, and we are to use our gifts, and resources to expand God’s kingdom…now we need to take a timeout for a moment…

You do realize God doesn’t need your money and your things right?  He isn’t in heaven right now staring at his bank account online.  God doesn’t need our money, and I need you to understand something else too…

God doesn’t need you to accomplish anything.  He is God, He can do what He wants when He wants, but what is so awesome is that He invites us into His kingdom work!  You are invited into the mission, but he doesn’t need you to accomplish it.  Some of us think we are the superhero in the movie, no we have one of those, his name is Jesus…we aren’t the center of the story, but God loves us enough to invite us into it.  Check out the next line, verse 21…

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Here we go, we are right back to the recurring theme we see over and over again when it comes to our money.  It is all about our hearts.  God is after our hearts.  He knows that where our treasure is that is where our hearts are.  Where we are putting our time, our energy, our resources, and our money is showing the world what really matters to us.  You want to know where your heart is?  An easy way to see what matters to you is to check where your time, money, energy, and focus is going…that is what matters to you.

Remember there is nothing wrong with having wealth, or even having nice things don’t hear this wrong.  Where we get into trouble is when those things end up in the wrong spot in our lives.  When our meaning and our self-worth come from those types of things rather than Christ, we are putting ourselves in a very dangerous place.  Putting a temporary thing in God’s seat in your life is a dangerous thing, and will only lead to chaos, discontentment, and pain.

So what is first in your life?  Is it God that is shaping and molding your life or is it your stuff?  Do you have to look good to other people?  Are you so concerned with how you look to others that you dress the part, drive the part, and live the part just to be accepted?  Are you willing to burry yourself in debt just to be viewed a certain way by people?  Boy, oh boy is that ever a slippery slope, because you will never please them.  All the while you have God who loves you just as you are, and when you find your identity in being His child, you don’t have to do anything but be His.

Two Perspectives:

So Jesus talks about starts this talk by addressing two treasures and then he moves into two perspectives…

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 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!

So we see two types of eyes here, the good eyes and the bad eyes.  The bad eye well it is jealous, it envies, it wants to win and it wishes harm on others.  The good eye looks at wealth with an eternal perspective.  The good eye sees the treasures of today as a resource for God’s kingdom.  So our earthly treasure become a way for us to serve God and help others.  When we do that we are storing up treasures in heaven.  So we are grateful to use our money to care for ourselves.  We are grateful to save our money, and to invest it.  We are happy to build our businesses with it and provide for our families with it but we see our money for what it is.  It is useful but temporary and if we over value it…if we can’t view it from the eternal perspective it can take over our lives.  Which again is why Jesus speaks of it so often in his time with us on this earth.  I also believe it is why he goes right from the two eyes to the two masters.

Two Masters:

The last set of two that we see is that there is the two masters…

24 “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.

We have heard this verse basically every week during this series, but it cannot be stated enough, you can have both God and money but you cannot serve both God and money.  We need to understand this, there is only one throne in our hearts and God is to sit on it.  We have to be very careful when it comes to money and the treasures of this world.  They can very easily slip into the wrong seat in our lives.  The reality is that it does feel good to have nice things and it is very easy for us to begin to find our value in how we look to people all around us.  The scary thing is that Jesus is pretty clear, we can’t serve them both.  There will only be one master in your life, and it must be God.

It is such a set up to center your value and your identity around your money or your stuff, but it is an easy trap to fall into.  You want people to like you, I get it, I want people to like me too.  Hey I get it, wearing the right pants, driving the right car, and having the right house, with the best of everything feels good.  It also makes you look good to people, but it is a very dangerous place to go for your value and identity and self-worth.  You are putting your value in things that just don’t last.  Jesus is saying in this teaching, hey let’s take the spirituality and the theology out of it, this just isn’t smart and if you take a moment, and step back from your life and look at what you are doing from an eternal perspective he is right.

So there are two places you can store up treasure, one is temporary, one lasts forever.  There are two eyes to look through life with, one is all about you, and one is through the eyes of Christ.  There are two masters you can serve and in the end there is only going to be one God in your life.  You can’t serve both God and money.  Yeah your stuff, and your money can give you temporary happiness, but happiness comes and goes.  God wants you walking in freedom and joy.  That is only coming when we begin to view all of our life, our talents, and our treasures through eternal eyes.

No your money is not evil.  No it isn’t wrong to have nice stuff.  Again it is all about what place those things take in your life.  Jesus loves you enough to speak this truth, one of these ways of living leads to life, the other to death.  In the end we are given the choice of living for today and the temporary time we spend on this earth, or for all of eternity to come.   The choice is up to you, and if you listen to Jesus He is literally saying one of those ways is wise, and well it just isn’t.