It is one thing for you to own possessions, but possessions should not own you. When that happens, they’re no longer possessions; they’re idols. We must repent of and fight against a lifestyle of self-indulgence which is contrary to the Gospel. Self-indulgence breeds a hard heart towards God and others. Over the next five weeks we will discuss the importance of having a biblical (proper) view of possessions, what a biblical view of possessions looks like (giving generously, saving wisely, and living appropriately), and finally learn how a biblical perspective of our possessions keeps us from worry and anxiety.
The Foolishness of Earthly Treasures
Jesus began His teaching on the danger of accumulating possessions by saying, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth…” It is important to remember that when Jesus prohibits something, He does so for our benefit. It is also important that we understand what Jesus is prohibiting and what He is not. Jesus is not saying it is wrong to have possessions or that it is wrong to collect things. What is Jesus prohibiting? He is prohibiting the selfish collection and accumulation of possessions because that quickly becomes idolatry. The key word is selfish.
Jesus is well aware of our innate attraction to things. One result of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) is our temptation to “exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve something created instead of the Creator” (Rom 1:25). This is idolatry and the Apostle John counseled: “Guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). Jesus knows that our possessions can quickly possess our affections and lead us to despise Him. Therefore, He said: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). Whatever captures your heart and affection is your treasure. Therefore, we must “guard our heart” (Prov 4:23).
Jim Elliot, the missionary martyr to a savage tribe in Ecuador in the early 1950s, famously said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” The reason given for not collecting treasure on earth is that “moth and rust destroy and… thieves break in and steal.” It is foolish to collect treasures on earth because you can’t keep them. Why do we spend so much time, energy, and money on things that we cannot keep and will not last? Spend your time and energy collecting eternal treasure.
The Wisdom of Heavenly Treasures
What does it mean to lay up treasure in heaven? Daniel Doriani gives a good definition: “We lay up treasures in heaven by investing in God’s causes and God’s people.” Those who collect treasures in heaven understand that all their possessions are blessings from God and use all they have for God’s glory. Knowing that “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). You are more interested in giving than accumulating.
Heavenly or Earthly Master?
One of the greatest temptations we all face–even Christians–is to accumulate stuff. While few people fall into the extreme level of hoarding (as can be seen on television), everyone deals with the temptation to hoard at some level. This is a problem because no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money/possessions. Honor God with your money and possessions.
How do you do that? Art Rainer has written a helpful book entitled The Money Challenge that we will use as a guide for the next three sermons on this series. He wrote, “You are made for something more. Your money was made for something more.” When your time on earth is over, what do you want to leave your children/grandchildren? A heritage of godliness or a house of garbage? Begin now; glorify God with your possessions.