The one sentence overview of the Sermon on the Mount would be: God sent Jesus to establish His kingdom in our hearts. The whole point of this sermon is the transformation of our hearts. I just warn you though; God’s kingdom is radically different than the kingdom, the culture, we live in.

In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, Jesus explains how God’s kingdom changes us from the inside out. He talks about the beatitudes; you are spiritually blessed when you, for example, are at the end of your rope. That’s different than our culture. In our culture we believe we are blessed when our 401k is loaded, we are safe and we drive our BMW to the beach house and Instagram ‘#blessed’. Jesus didn’t say that did He? He said we are blessed when we face suffering for being a disciple of Jesus.

He continued in Matthew 5 and told us that we are the salt and light of our culture. He raises the bar on love and talks about very practical issues. The law says don’t murder; Jesus said if we walk around being angry with people we are guilty of murder. He talks about adultery; when we lust over others, we are committing adultery. He talked about marriage and divorce; we can’t be selfish and hide behind the divorce law. He taught about how to respond to people who mistreat us; we are absorb hurt, disappointment, unfairness and give back love. He talked about how to treat your enemies; if you only like those who like you, you’ve done nothing special. Jesus told us to love them, pray for them, when given evil, respond with good.

Matthew 5 shows us how God wants to transform our hearts. God’s kingdom in our hearts changes everything.

Now we are in the second part, Matthew 6. This part, in general, teaches us about our personal relationship with Jesus. What does Jesus do? He hammers the fake things people do to appear religious. It talks about being real. This offended the Pharisees. Everything the Pharisees did, was public, a show, fake, bringing attention to themselves, making themselves look great in front of others.

The Pharisees gave to the poor and let everyone know about it, they even blew trumpets to get attention. Matthew 6:2 Jesus said,

When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! NLT

Jesus confronts everyone, if you want to have a healthy relationship with God, be real, give privately, don’t bring attention to yourself.

The Pharisees prayed incessantly, loudly, on the corner for everyone to hear. Matthew 6:5 Jesus said,

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. NLT

Jesus confronts everyone, if you want to have a meaningful connection with God, be real, pray privately.

The Pharisees fasted two times a week and put on a show for everyone to see. Matthew 6:16 Jesus said,

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do. NLT

Jesus confronts everyone, if you want God to notice your fast, be real, don’t bring attention to it.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? If you want to have a meaningful relationship with God, you do it privately, be real. Can you imagine how offended the Pharisees had to be? They were the very opposite of everything Jesus taught. They were hollow and empty. They were hypocrites and self-absorbed. They would have been furious. Again, God’s kingdom is radically different than our kingdom.

I want you to see this. The first part of Matthew 6, Jesus hammers the Pharisees for being hypocrites in their relationship with God; in giving, prayer and fasting.   The second part of Matthew 6, Jesus continues to challenge the Pharisees for having hearts filled with greed. As we continue in Matthew 6, Jesus addressed how God’s kingdom view money, greed, investments and worry. The Pharisees believed that a marker of being righteous was being wealthy. So, what did they do? They built a system to make themselves wealthy. They believed that blessings from God meant they would be wealthy.

Just a real quick thought I want to interject here. It breaks my heart to tell you, many North American Christians believe this too; and it’s wrong. They believe, God is with me when I have comfort, safety and security. And if something bad happens to me, then God is angry with me or isn’t with me. That simply isn’t true. Many Christians don’t fully understand that God is with you as you walk through difficult times.

How does Jesus deal with the greed of the Pharisees? Let’s read.

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth – eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

22 “Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. 23 But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. NLT Matthew 6:19-24

Now think about this, the Pharisees believed, ‘The more wealthy I am, the holier I am.’ Jesus enters and says, ‘No one can serve two masters. For you will hate the one and love the other.’ Wow. That was a direct, verbal, theological punch to the religious Pharisees. They thought you could pursue money and God. Jesus shows up and says, ‘That’s impossible.’

What does this mean to us today? Let’s remember; God sent Jesus to establish His kingdom in our hearts. And, remember, God’s kingdom is radically different than our kingdom. So, in the area of money, it may sound like Jesus is speaking a foreign language to us. Jesus thought it was so important, 16 of the 38 parables are about money. In the Bible, there are 500 verses on prayer, 500 verses on faith and 2,000 verses on money. Why? Because money is, by far, the number one distraction to having faith in God. It’s the number one thing that people fall in love with other than God. It’s always God vs. money.

Let me ask you, does it bug you that Jesus talked about money? Does it bug you that we are talking about money? Does it hit a nerve with you? Do you want to meet me privately and tell me that I should talk more about God’s grace and love and forgiveness? I would challenge you to think through; ‘In the area of money, am I building my kingdom or I am building Gods’ kingdom?’ You should ask yourself why the topic of money is a hot button to you.

You must understand the kingdom you and I live in. It’s materialistic. It’s about consumerism. It’s about satisfying every appetite. It’s completely selfish. We compare and compete with what others have. In our kingdom, money is the way to get everything we want. Comfort. Safety. Security. Happiness. If you think about it, in our kingdom, with more money means we can finally live without God and have that sense of control we want. With more money, we don’t have to live in faith and be dependent on God caring for us. We are free, so we think.

That’s why when the church talks about money, people cringe instead of celebrate. We want control and giving 10% back to God means I have less. That means less control. Less to spend on me. That’s why people who are Christians and attend church and hear several sermons on giving struggle to give. They think the Pastor is up to something when in reality, the Pastor is inviting people into God’s kingdom and God’s understanding of money.

Why would we cringe at this topic of money? Why would we not celebrate that? Because there is a battle going on between two kingdoms. The kingdom we live in vs. the God’s kingdom.

Jesus talked about our belief that more money will bring safety and security. This is the story he told.

16 “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. 18 So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, my friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” NLT Luke 12:16-21

Do you see the battle in this parable? You can have earthly wealth and believe you are completely free from being dependent on God; but you would be a fool. Why? You would not have a good relationship with God. Do you think it’s possible that the pursuit of money, and everything money can bring you, can separate you from God? Do you think giving half of what God asks can put you at risk?

The first thing we have to understand is that we live in a kingdom that is in complete conflict with God’s kingdom. It is a kingdom that desires everything but dependence on God. It’s a kingdom that makes money an idol so we can be free from being dependent on God. Maybe we don’t mind having a belief that God exists but we struggle putting our faith in God’s caring of us today, right now, this week.

Question for you: If you consider yourself a Christian and you attend church; Do you believe that when you die, God knows your name and will sure you are placed into heaven for eternity? If the answer is yes, I have a follow up question. Do you believe that the God who knows your name and will give you eternity, can’t take care of you today?

Follow up question: Do you realize how silly it sounds to say that God of the universe can put me into heaven for all eternity but I don’t believe He will take care of me today?

The second thing we must understand is that money is good, a tool. Scripture teaches us to save for retirement. Scripture teaches to save up for a rainy day. Scripture teaches us to stay out of debt. Have you ever met people who are angry at God and the church and believe that all they want is your money? Actually, the Bible teaches to save for retirement. That sounds awful [sarcasm]! The Bible teaches about saving for a rainy day. Again, who could serve a God who wants us to do that [sarcasm]! God wants us to stay out of debt. Imagine living in financial freedom!

Money is good when you understand it’s a tool. The love of money is evil, it’s called greed. I have met rich people. They seem happy. Money is never the problem. The real problem is our misunderstanding of money. Make as much money as you want, but always remember, only God is the source of life. If you are in debt, work two jobs to get out of debt. Again, money is a tool. It’s okay to work and work hard.

1 Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders’ work is useless. Unless the Lord protects a city, sentries do no good. 2 It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest. TLB Psalms 127:1-2

So how do we know we are allowing God’s kingdom to transform our hearts? Let’s be clear. One of the markers of being transformed by God is in the area of money. Like the areas of forgiveness, loving your enemies, privately meeting with God, how we view money is proof that we have been transformed.

That’s why Jesus said,

Don’t store up treasures here on earth… store your treasures in heaven… wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

Do you see that word, ‘treasure’? That means what you value the most. Do you see that word, ‘heart’? That means the core of who you are, your emotions, desires and appetites. Let’s read that again.

Whatever you value the most, that is where your emotions, your desires and appetites are.

I need to ask you, what do you think and care about the most?  The new better shinny thing?  Do you care about people who you know who are outside a relationship with God?  Do you know how you can start caring? Start giving. Your emotions will follow your decision to give. That’s why Jesus said,

22 “Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. 23 But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Do you see the word, ‘pure’? That means you have a clear, single vision. Do you see the word, ‘evil’? That means muddy, double vision. Let’s reread that.

When you see life clearly, you are fixed on eternal things.   However, when you have double vision, the things of heaven are mixed with the things of his world, you want both kingdoms.

To close today, I want to ask you, do you feel tension about this issue? If you do, it’s not a surprise. There are two kingdoms clashing.

That’s why Jesus said, No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other… you cannot serve both God and money.

The one kingdom we live in makes money into an idol so we don’t have be dependent on God. The other kingdom is God’s kingdom. It’s about faith. It’s about trust in God today. Please hear me, the God who will save your soul and place you in heaven can take care of you today.

Does money leave you filled with anxiety, worry, doubt and fear? Jesus addresses that next week.

For today, I need to ask you, what is money to you? Is it a tool that enables you to live or is it a love affair, the thing you believe will finally give you what you want, safety, comfort, security and happiness?

What is God to you? Is He the God who gets you to heaven but can’t take care of you today? Does He really mean that you can invest into heaven?

How you view money, how you view God can be the difference between living in bondage and living in freedom.