Lesson 99—January 24, 2016
Audio Commentary by David Daniel
Investing Eternally Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21
Lesson Goal: To better understand Jesus’ words concerning heavenly investments.
Introduction: Jesus is about to share with His followers how they can truly find security in the future. As we move into this section of His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, I believe it would be beneficial to understand some simple, basic truths of Scripture. Before we look in detail at Jesus’ words, Warren Wiersbe gives some great insight and wisdom concerning truths that will help as we study Jesus’ words:
We are accustomed to dividing life into the “spiritual” and the “material,” but Jesus made no such division. [In all of life, we are to honor and glorify God.] In many of Jesus’ parables, He makes it clear that a right attitude toward wealth is a mark of true spirituality (see Luke 12:13ff; 16:1-31). If we have the true righteousness of Christ in our lives, then we will have a proper attitude toward material wealth. Nowhere did Jesus magnify poverty or criticize the legitimate getting of wealth. It is not wrong to possess things, but it is wrong for things to possess us. The sin of idolatry is as dangerous as the sin of hypocrisy. Jesus warned against the sin of living for
the things of this life. He pointed out the sad consequences of covetousness and idolatry. Materialism can enslave the heart, the mind and the will. We can become shackled by the material things of life, but we ought to be liberated and controlled by the Spirit of God (Wiersbe).
Please list some things that can become idols in our lives in 2016.
Is it possible to have wealth and material possessions and still be a follower of Jesus Christ? Is it possible to be economically poor and not be a follower of Jesus Christ?
(V19) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.”
“Lay up” and “treasures” come from the same Greek word in its basic form—(thesaurizō) “lay up” and (thesaurus) “treasures.” From these Greek words we get our English word “thesaurus,” which means
“a treasury of words.” The translation of the literal Greek would be: “do not treasure up treasures for yourselves.” Also, with the Greek meaning there is the idea of stacking on top of one another, such as the idea of bricks being stacked on top of one another.
John MacArthur explains that Jesus is helping us to understand that if we accumulate wealth or possessions simply for our own sakes, whether to hoard or to spend selfishly and extravagantly, those possessions become idols.
Jesus wants us to understand that it is right for His followers to work and provide for ourselves and our families. It is not contrary to Scripture to make wise investments. It is not wrong to prepare for the future. What is wrong is to become selfish and self-centered and to accumulate wealth and possessions simply for our own extravagant pleasures.
(V19b) “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal”
To better understand this, we must remember the day in which these words were written. In the days of Scripture, wealth was measured in different ways and by different standards than today. Wealth was often measured by clothing or cloth. There were no mass-production companies. Items were individually made from various fabrics. But these fabrics were targets of the moth. Even the richest garments, sometimes interwoven with gold threads, were subject to insects, particularly the moth.
Another material treasure of biblical days was costly metals, which were often subjects of rust and corrosion. In the climate of Bible lands, insects and corrosion by rust thrived.
(V19c) “and where thieves break in and steal”
The danger of theft applies to almost all types of valuables in every time and place. The thief is mindfully working to steal away anything of value and worth.
(V20) “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we must understand that “neither having possessions, nor making provision for the future, nor enjoying the gifts of a good Creator are included in the ban on earthly treasure-storage” (Stott).
What then did Jesus mean by His words?
He speaks against His followers making wealth or material possessions their treasure. In the entire sermon on the mountain, Jesus speaks about the purity of His followers’ hearts (our hearts). The truth of Scripture is that where our hearts are, our treasure will always follow. Treasure laid up in heaven is incorruptible. The things that can happen to earthly treasure cannot happen to heavenly treasure.
Jesus is teaching us that the only real, secure treasure is the heavenly treasure. It is truly safe, for it cannot be touched by the pests, decay or corrosion of this world.
What is heavenly treasure?
While living on earth, how can we make investments (lay up for yourselves treasure) in heaven? Please answer prayerfully.
(V21) Once again, it is simply a matter of the purity of our hearts. “Jesus is not saying that if we put our treasures in the right place our heart will then be in the right place, but that the location of our treasure indicates where our heart already is” (MacArthur).
G. Campbell Morgan wrote concerning the follower of Jesus Christ:
You are to remember with the passion burning within you that you are not the child of today. You are not of the earth, you are more than dust; you are the child of tomorrow, you are of the eternities. The measurements of your lives cannot be circumscribed by the point where blue sky kisses green earth. All the fact of your life cannot be encompassed in the one small sphere upon which you live. If you make your future on the earth—poor, sorry, silly soul—you have made a fortune and stored it in a place where you cannot hold it. Make your fortune, but store it where it will greet you in the dawning of the new morning.