July 14 – Matthew 6:19-24

by

Main focus: How you use your money will demonstrate what kingdom you belong to and who your king is.

This is week 1 of Jesus & Money, a four-week series on what Jesus has to say about money. And Jesus has a lot to say—over the course of his teaching ministry, Jesus talked about money 33% of the time. He knows and wants his followers to know that money matters. How we relate to it and what we do with it demonstrate our truest statements of faith and obedience. Thus this sermon series has a direct connection to our year-long theme, A Lived Amen, which is all about a life lived in worship of God—Jesus is worthy of our whole lives, meaning he’s worthy of our trust, our obedience, and our money.

This first week we’ll turn to the Sermon on the Mount, specifically Matthew 6:19-26 (FYI the sermon text you heard on Sunday likely ended at verse 24). There Jesus teaches something that is perhaps familiar to many of us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” But don’t let familiarity get in the way, this passage is crucial for understanding a Christian perspective on materialism. We’re surrounded by materialism, which tells us all that exists and matters is material and now, and those religious traditions that don’t outright condone materialism often tend to fixate on it, like asceticism or prosperity theology. Plenty of that mentality leaks into the Church (Jesus will address it in 6:25-34), and throughout the centuries Christians have cycled through despising material things and worshiping them. But we see neither of those things in this passage.

We’ll focus primarily on how this passage applies to wealth, but note that “treasures on earth” could be literally anything on earth your heart treasures, like fame, freedom, security, etc. In discussion we’ll crack the door to this by talking about what tends to capture our hearts. We might think tithing gets us off the hook of laying up treasures on earth, but a careful eye will see that anything that captures your heart on earth can rightly be labeled an “earthly treasure.” We’ll also ask ourselves why these things capture our hearts so easily. This could be something like the following:

      • satisfaction – “I’ll finally be happy if I have ____”
      • security – “I need ____ to ensure my happiness/safety”
      • social standing – “people will be impressed with me if I own ____”
      • indulgence – “I already have a lot, but what’s the harm of just a little more?”

Hopefully this conversation about motivation—the why behind our desires—will help expose the deep tendrils that love of money digs into our hearts. You’ll notice our questions this week don’t ask about money but about the effect money has on us. That’s because what our hearts do with and for money is the real thing worth addressing, and in the coming weeks we’ll talk about generosity, greed, and Jesus’s glory for this same reason.

Now, “how much is enough?” is a question that might come up this week or in the weeks to come. We easily get hung up on amounts when it comes to physical wealth, and when we read, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,” we likely start calculating how much it’s okay to hold onto. For Jesus it isn’t about amounts, it’s about a binary allegiance. Where your treasure is, there your heart is also, and you can’t serve both God and money. If we’re trying to figure out how much we need to give away, perhaps it should be however much will break our allegiance to it. If our plan is to give away the bare minimum to be technically compliant but emotionally resistant, our allegiance is still misaligned.

But Jesus also doesn’t tell us to despise money. Wealth is a tool, and we should ask ourselves, “What does Jesus want me to do with the money he’s given me?” Our last two questions will help us zero in on Jesus’s desires for us and what our next step of growth in that direction might be. Jesus wants to free us of our attachment to our material wealth so we can then freely use it to accomplish Kingdom objectives in the world. If the choice is between present rewards or eternal ones, and it almost always is, we know which one is more valuable.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Matthew 6:19-26 for us?

– What stood out to you in the passage?

– What “earthly treasures” are you most prone to chase after?

– Why do you think those things capture your attention?

– Look at verse 26—how might God’s love for us help unroot desires for earthly treasures?

– Based on this passage, how do you think Jesus wants us to relate to wealth and possessions?

– What do you think is your next step of growth towards Jesus’s desire for you?

Resources

A Summer Slow Down Reading List

Back to all Resources → Summer is a great time to relax some of your normal rhythms and look for space to rest and recuperate from the rush of spring and fall. In my mind that makes summer a great time to learn more about how to weave rest and restoration practices...

read more

Who wrote Ecclesiastes?

Back to all Resources →  Ecclesiastes is easily one of the most enigmatic books of the Bible, and its mystery includes questions about the suspiciously unnamed author (or authors?). We’ll get into the details below but never fear, by the conclusion you’ll see that...

read more

Vintage Church DNA

Back to all Resources → As community group leaders at Vintage Church, our mission is to create environments in which we can know, live, and advance the gospel together, environments where authentic relationships and spiritual growth can thrive. This mission to know,...

read more