Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We’re in the second part of the Sermon on the Mount today. In the beginning of that Sermon, Jesus addressed the FALSE TEACHINGS of the Pharisees. Here in the second part Jesus has been addressing the FALSE WORSHIP of the Pharisees.
Jesus hasn’t been using the word, “Pharisee”, but we can be sure they understood that He was talking about them.
When Jesus described how NOT to worship, He described how THEY worshipped! He said, don’t be like the people who love to give to the needy – IN PUBLIC so everyone can see how generous they are. Don’t be like the people who love to pray – OUTLOUD so everyone can hear what good followers of God they are. Don’t be like the people who love to fast – BUT TELEGRAPH IT to everyone by the way their faces look, so that everyone knows they GENEROUS and PIOUS and they even go BEYOND what God commands them to do. They fast not only ONCE a year but twice a week!
This was how the Pharisees “worshipped” God. And as Jesus later said, ““Everything they do is done for men to see…” (Matthew 23:5 NIV).
Their spiritually was a show. Their religion, a machine they used to get attention. Their thoughts were not focused on the God of Heaven, but on the things of earth.
True followers of God are HEAVENMINDED. And that’s what Jesus is going to talk about today, being Heaven-minded.
Turn to Matthew 6, verse 19.
“19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).
Where you invest, YOU are invested. Let me explain.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger made movies, he was selling himself. He was selling an image of strength, an Austrian accent, little lines like “I’ll be back”. He was selling his personality. Who he was and how he did things.
When you make money at your job, you’re doing the same thing. You take your talents and abilities, your personality and time and you turn it into a paycheck. You’re taking who you are and what you do and making it into money.
When you then invest that money in the stock market, you’re really investing PART OF YOU.
Think about the stock market crash of 1929. Some people had invested everything they had into the market. They had invested more than money. They had invested their hopes and dreams, their time and effort, their emotions – their lives into that stock market. When it failed, they felt they had NOTHING LEFT. Some even took their own lives in despair.
When you invest something of yours, you are investing part of YOU.
With this in mind, Jesus says we’ve got two investment choices. Either we can invest in this earth. In the physical things that we can see and feel. Or, we can invest in Heaven.
But Jesus says, if you’re going to invest in the world be aware of this – EVERYTHING in this world eventually FALLS APART, or DISAPPEARS.
But investing in Heaven is a different thing. In God’s presence NOTHING DECAYS and nothing can ever be STOLEN. The treasures of Heaven are secure and eternal.
So, let’s take it back to the Pharisees for a moment. In all their acts of fake worship, the Pharisees were investing in the world. Get me attention, get me a reputation. That’s what they were investing in. And all of that was going to fall apart eventually. The better thing to invest in was a relationship with God.
Jesus says that the difference between a Heaven-minded person and an Earth-minded person is like the difference between someone who can see and someone who is blind.
Matthew 6, verse 22. Jesus continues by saying…
“22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But 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!” (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV).
Human beings are born into darkness. They are sinful from conception and without faith in God when they’re born.
But when the Holy Spirit brings the Gospel, these things change. Through the Bible, God shows people that they’re sinners, but He loves them. Loves them so much that He’s opened the way to Heaven for them. How? God’s sinless Son took the sinner’s place in hell. Jesus suffered their hell while He was dying on the cross. Because of His suffering, our sins have been paid for. In Jesus we have forgiveness.
And to prove that this all was not just some religious story made up to make people feel better about their mistakes, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Our Savior lives, now and forever.
Turn to First Peter 1, verse 3. First Peter is just a few books back from Revelation. Peter, John, Jude, Revelation. First Peter 1, verse 3. To fellow followers of Jesus, Peter writes…
“3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV).
Our first birth was into spiritual deadness and blindness. Through Jesus’ resurrection we are born all over again, forgiven and spiritually alive.
We sinners made saints. Blind beggars who can now see. Because of Jesus our Savior, we have been made princes and princesses of Heaven. Owners of an everlasting inheritance.
But if we replace God with something else, be it ourselves, or money or some false god, then darkness returns. And with darkness, stumbling and pain.
When I was a kid, my Dad used to take the church youth group down to the Black Hills of South Dakota every summer for a camping trip.
We’d explore different parts of the Black Hills each time. Once we crossed over into Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower. Once we hiked up to the castle lookout tower on Harney Peak. And once we took a tour down into a deep cave.
In the cave the guide gave us each a simple lantern. It was a sideways bucket with a candle in it. Then he led us down into the darkness. When we had gone far enough he had us sit in a circle in a place where the path widened out a bit. When we were all there, he had us blow our candles out.
He said we were now experiencing complete darkness. We were far enough down in the cave that NO light could reach us. Try as you might, you really couldn’t see you hand in front of your face.
Now, the cave wasn’t much of a maze. There were only a few different paths that you might follow. So, on the way back out of the cave they let us explore on our own. Of course, everyone wanted to find their own special way up.
As I was finding my way out, my candle started to flicker. It had burned down to the end. The kids that were with me were either to far ahead or to far behind for me to use their light. So when mine went out, I couldn’t see a thing.
Stupidly, I tried to keep moving forward. Slowly, feeling my way along the walls. But even moving slowly, when I bashed my knee into a large, chunky boulder it hurt. A lot. I decided to wait until the grownups caught up.
Turn to First Timothy 6, verse 9. The apostle Paul wrote this to a young pastor named Timothy.
“9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV).
If we try to find our way through life without Jesus, we’re just groping in the dark, no doubt headed for some painful experiences.
Turn back to Matthew 6, verse 24. There are somethings that seem grey in the Bible. Hard for us to understand. Hard to define. In this section Jesus is all black and white.
You can either invest in the world, or in heaven. You can either see through the eyes of faith, or you’re blind. And true devotion can’t be divided. Matthew 6, verse 24. Jesus says…
“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” (Matthew 6:24 NIV).
Over 20 years ago a survey was taken in America (James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Prentice Hall, 1991)). The survey asked people, “What would you do for 10 million dollars?” There was a list of things people could pick from. Things like…
“Abandon your family.”
“Abandon your church.”
“Become a prostitute for a week.”
“Leave your spouse.”
“Kill a stranger.”
The results were startling. For 10 million dollars…
…25 percent would abandon their family.
…25 percent would abandon their church.
…23 percent would become a prostitute for a week.
…16 percent would leave their spouse.
…7 percent would murder a stranger.
You can’t be Heaven-minded and Earth-minded. There is only one throne on top the human heart. Either God sits there as King, or something else.
Part of being Heaven-minded is truly meaning what we say in the Lord’s Prayer. We say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We’re saying, “God I want to do what you want me to do, just like the angels do. Perfectly.”
But being Heaven-minded also means confessing our sins to God when we fail to do His will. Being Heaven-minded means trusting Him when He tells us, “I forgive you. Because of My Son, I forgive you.”
Let’s be serious here. Maybe we’ve never been offered 10 million dollars to do something we know is wrong, but how many times haven’t we chosen evil over the good, for far less than a million?
How about every day.
That’s why the Master we serve is so special. His Word says,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
Invest in your relationship with the Father, not in things that never satisfy and won’t last.
Let Jesus illuminate your every step, by listening to His Words every day.
Serve the Master, by believing His promise and learning to live His way.
The Peace of God which surpasses all our understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.