Many of us often find our world to be plastic and phony. We’ve been lied to, conned, manipulated, and deceived. So we begin to build up natural “sales resistance.” Yet in spite of that, we often sell out too cheaply and end up with the wrong thing after all.
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus tells us in His Sermon on the Mount how to be sure to get “the real thing,” —how to be successful in life, but more important, how to have an authentic life in Him. There are three basic truths in this passage.
1. We must possess real wealth, “treasures in Heaven” (v. 19-21).
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
People who think they are wealthy often are not. Often “lifestyles of the rich and famous” are really lifestyles of the rich and foolish. When is a rich man poor?
He will never find it. Solomon, the wisest man apart from Jesus who ever lived, said “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver” (Ecclesiastes 5:10), and “In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble” (Proverbs 15:6). When a man increases his riches, he often increases his worries.
“Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.” Proverbs 23:4.
If you set your goal to be wealthy, money then becomes your master rather than your servant.
It's incredibly bad advice to tell a young person, “Make all the money you can, just so you make it honestly.” If you tell him that, he'll be making money when ought to be doing something else, like spending time with his children, or serving the Lord, or praying, or doing other things.
“Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not, for riches certainly make themselves wings. They fly away as an eagle toward the Heaven. Proverbs 23:5.
If you don't have any treasure in Heaven, how rich are you, really? Everything you think is yours in a material sense, sooner or later, you’ll leave behind. “Riches make themselves wings.”
“Riches profit not in the day of wrath.” Proverbs 11:4.
You might be able to pay off a traffic policeman, but you'll not bribe Heaven's judge. No matter how wealthy you are, your riches will not help at the judgment if you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t say it’s wrong to have material things, but that it’s dangerous to trust in them.
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1Timothy 6:17
God doesn’t mind your enjoying your wealth. Just don't let it make you proud or put your trust in possessions. Put your trust in the Living God.
When the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth,” in English we can’t see it, but the original sentence Jesus spoke actually uses “treasure” twice. It literally says, “Stop treasuring treasure.”
When you see wealth as an end in itself rather than a means to an end, you have begun to treasure treasure. Your money possesses you rather than you possessing it. Our Lord is saying, “Have a treasure—just make certain it's real treasure you have. Get the real thing. Don't be cheated. Don't let the devil make a fool of you. Quit treasuring treasure. Lay up for yourselves treasure in Heaven—real treasure.”
In 1 Peter 1:4, we read what we have in Heaven: “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you.”
Our Lord is saying you’d better have a safety deposit box in Heaven, where neither the foul breath of decay, the gnawing tooth of time or any thief can get your treasure. Incorruptible, undefiled, untainted wealth, reserved in Heaven for you. When you add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can't take away, then you'll know how wealthy you are.
Jim Elliot, the young missionary who gave his life to take the Gospel to the Auca tribe and was slain by a spear, wrote these immortal words in the flyleaf of his Bible: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This is real treasure.
How can you have treasure in Heaven? Paul told Timothy, “Lay up for yourself a foundation against the time to come” (1 Timothy 6:19). You can't take your money to Heaven with you, but you can send it on ahead. How? Invest in something going to Heaven! Praise goes to Heaven, so praise the Lord. Souls are going to Heaven—win souls to Christ. Invest your money in missions, soul wining, prayer and praise. Send your treasure on ahead. Reserved in Heaven, no one can take it away.
2. We must perceive real wisdom.
“The light of the body is the eye. If therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light, but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.” Matthew 6:22-23
When our Lord speaks about the eye, He's not talking about the eye of the body but the eye of the soul, comparing it to the eye of the body—sight physically and insight spiritually. A “single eye” is an eye focused on the Lord.
He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:4-7
Wisdom is the principle thing, not learning or intelligence. Many think they have wisdom, but they don't. Suppose you go off to the university and get a graduate degree with a 4.0 average and you don't know Jesus Christ. You’ve missed it. You've made straight A's but flunked in life.
Knowledge is proud that it knows so much. Wisdom is humble that it knows so little. You need knowledge to pass the test in school; you need wisdom to pass the test of life. Knowledge is learned. Wisdom is given. Knowledge comes by looking around. Wisdom comes by looking up. I can hardly overstate the need for wisdom in this world.
The apostle Paul said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). One of the most brilliant scholars of his time, having today’s equivalent of a PhD, Paul said that everything centers in Jesus. You can go deeper into Christ; you'll never go beyond Christ.
Sometimes I get busy, on a fast track, and although I pray, I know I’m just not centered in Christ like I ought to be. That’s when I get in my study, lock the door, and say, “Lord, I've been double-minded. I need to be single-minded. I take everything that means anything, and I bring it under the dominion of Jesus Christ.”
Things very precious to me, my family, I give to Jesus Christ. Any so-called possessions I have, I make Him Lord of those. Any so-called ability as a preacher, my health, my body, my right to myself, I give it Jesus Christ.
How I can tell when I get there? My body is full of light. I don't know that I can explain it, but there's something about being clear, about saying Jesus Christ is LORD of all, that fills your innermost being with light.
Some profess, “Oh, we're walking in the light,” and they're stumbling in the darkness. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” and it becomes midnight at high noon.
3. Make certain you practice real worship.
“No man can serve two masters [slave owners]. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” [“Mammon” is Aramaic for “possession”] Matthew 6:24
Jesus didn’t say you shouldn’t have two masters. He’s saying it’s an impossibility. You can't serve both. You can't be a slave to two, any more than you can walk in different directions at the same time.
Some think coming to church, sitting and listening is worship. Then you go back out to that other world, trying to serve God and mammon. You can't. You deceive yourself. Our God is not a moonlighting God. He doesn't have a duplex for a throne. There's one God, and if He is not Lord in the true sense of the word, you don’t have the real thing. Jesus is saying, “You must practice true worship.”
There is one absolute Lord, and His name is JESUS. He doesn’t want “a” place in your life or prominence in your life. Jesus demands preeminence in your life. He is Lord. No rival, no refusal, no rebuttal.
You say, “Well, I don't want to be a slave.” Then you'll never know what Christianity is and the freedom that comes when you bow the knee to Jesus Christ and say, “Lord, yes, you are Lord of all.” You say, “I'll do as I want.” You're free to do as you want, but you’re not free to do as you ought until you become the servant of Jesus Christ.
You will be somebody’s servant; if not the slave of Jesus, you’ll be enslaved to Satan. Jesus said, “If the Son shall make you free, you'll be free indeed.”
Make certain it's the real thing you get. Real treasure—you'll never lose it. Real wisdom—your body will be full of light. Real worship—Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.
When we come to Him in repentance and faith, we are empowered-and expected-to live the Christian life not by trying, but by trusting. Faith is not only how we receive salvation, it is how we walk, day by day, in grace. Only by faith can we extend forgiveness to others, share God's truth, and leave a godly legacy. As the tapestry of your life unfolds, may you begin to see the wonders of living each day, moment by moment, a life of faith and forgiveness.