The Greatest Sermon Ever12 - On Watching Your Heart
Matthew 6:19-24 New International Version (NIV) Treasures in Heaven 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
We continue our series through the sermon on the mount. Here looking at a very interesting passage tonight; a passage that is often overlooked because on the surface it seems quite simple; however Jesus is dealing with some deep and complex human realities here.
In this little passage we have the issue of idolatry, of greed, of the nature of mankind. It is intense. So rather than spend three weeks on this; we are going to dive deep into the main reality of this passage; which is Jesus is teaching us of the dangers of greed in our lives.
How we are going to deal with this is to follow the logic of the passage which shows us that we need to watch our goals, we need to open our eyes and we need to serve He who we were made for. Essentially, we will see how to weigh up our motives, illuminate our blind spots and then restore our true focus.
So, let’s dive in and see the first reality that Jesus covers is the fact that human beings, all human beings are goal-orientated beings;
1. We are goal-seeking beings - we go where our treasure is
Where your treasure is your heart is as well, is one of the most brilliant statements ever spoken.
If you get this you will see the underlying and hidden force that drives you to do what you do. You see church, human beings are hopelessly goal-seeking or goal-orientated creatures.
Aristotle said it like this, “Man is a goal-seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.”
It is an incredible reality that you can put something into the heart of someone and they will make it happen. Now, I am not advocating the name it and claim it idea, or the new idea that says tell the universe what you need and it will give it to you. That is to take something incredibly complex and to reduce it down to mystical wishing.
What the passage is identifying and what is the reality of man is; give a man an idea that hits him in his heart and he will move heaven and earth to get it. Essentially, if someone’s heart is in something they will stop at nothing to get it. No cost is too expensive, no demand is too great, no labour is to laborious.
You see this when young people fall in love. A young man who prides himself on the fact that he can find deo for under R10 suddenly doesn’t think twice about spending R600 on perfume because his girlfriend loves it. And He will suddenly find the motivation to groom more appropriately and start working out… move heaven and earth.
Another example is how if you really treasure something, you will find yourself spending money on it easily. For me I struggle when I see the price of clothing (because I have no fashion sense or passion at all), but will not blink when spending money on tech or books. R1000 for a pair of jeans are you mad, but R1000 rand on some device; cheap at double the price.
The reality, church, is where you heart is; where your goals and aspirations are; your treasure flows – your money flows – easily: Your life and energy flow easily.
The problem, and what Jesus identifies is that most of us have terrible goals, and the problem is that we will give up on everything else to achieve that goal and at the end of it all see it as rust, as full of holes or stolen.
We are goal-seeking goal-orientated beings, but we never ask if the goal, if what we treasure is worth it. or at least we wake up far too late to see that it was not.
You see this with people who give their whole lives, all their energy and time to be successfully and wealthy, but at the end of their lives, they wake up to see that it was the simply joys that they sacrificed, the common pleasures of family and relationship that they gave up on, that were more important than their success. And most of the world only realise on their death bed that the real reality of life; the fact that they are mortal and will be facing immortality without any concept of what that means. Without any hope or assurance.
You will pour your treasure and yourself to where your heart is; so where is your heart?
Jesus shows us that we don’t know;
2. We are blind beings - the eye is the lamp
Jesus goes onto explain how we actually can’t see that we are blind to our bad goals. In this context Jesus is talking about money and greed, but it can be applied to anyone of our goals that we pursue. For the context of tonight we will focus on greed.
Jesus says; 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
This seems like a very difficult metaphor to understand, but the commentators on this passage share that it is clear when you don’t overly spiritualise the metaphor. You see Jesus is saying here; when you eye works you can see, and your body knows where to go, but if your eye is bad – in fact the word there is evil – then although the whole room, the whole world is full of light it will do nothing for your body. It is still in darkness.
So what is Jesus trying to say here is we are blind to our darkness, and in the context that Jesus is talking about; money, and not just money but Mammon (the deification of money); we would call this Greed today or the worship of wealth and what wealth brings. So Jesus is saying we are blind to our worship of Mammon.
And the metaphor is quite apt, because Greed is an insidious evil, no one perceives themselves to be greedy; and that is why they can’t see their darkness and how great the darkness is.
Let’s test, who would confess that they struggle with Greed here? No-one, everyone of you think that you might be doing okay financially; but there are lots of much richer people out there.
And that is the problem! We always see others as richer. This is one of the things you will see if you ever move up in terms of your wealth. When you have little money you have small luxuries. When you get more money; you spoil yourself with some luxury but notices how quickly that luxury becomes a necessity. You lived without it for ages until you have it and then suddenly you can’t live without it.
And you are not being Greedy because there are so many people who have so much more than you! You see church, we can never see our Greed! We are blind to it; our eyes are evil.
This is why over and over Jesus doesn’t warn us to flee from the love of money, or to run from Greed, he tells us to watch out, to be careful. Because it is a subtle sin one that sneaks up on you.
You know when you commit adultery; that is why the bible warns us to flee from it. I mean no one says; “You are not my wife? How did I end up here?” – Keller, but with Greed we do it sneaks up on us, and in fact could completely have us and we don’t even know it.
That is why most people who fight for the rights of the poor, are not actually moved by love for poor people, they are condescending to poor people, the believe themselves to be the saviour to these poor simple-minded poor people. No they just hate the rich.
George Orwell in his book the road to Wigan Pier points this out; he spends half the book describing the horrifying situation that many people find themselves in in the working classes of 20th century England, but then spend the second half of the book speaking of the middle class people who speak of socialism and its need not in actual care of the plight of the poor but as a great means of social change. And essentially he brings out this idea that he articulates more clearly in animal farm people don’t care for the poor they just hate the rich (Orwell – Animal Farm).
Why because they are greedy and they don’t even see it. And we do this too; how often have you said; how can that person have so much? He must be doing something underhanded. I am horrified to say that many in this country do that of the other races and it is deplorable – it is evil, watch your heart!
As Jesus says, if the light within you is darkness, how great the darkness!
Now how do we then overcome this problem; we are goal-seeking, goal-orientated being and we are blinded to our goals, especially when it comes to greed, so how could we ever hope to overcome it.
I mean if I can’t even see my own Greed, how could I ever hope to beat it.
Now, the great temptation as a preacher would be to just tell you to be more generous. But unfortunately that would be too simple and would not heal your Greed. Jesus gives us the answer in the last part of this passage and it is my third point.
3. We are singular need beings - you cannot serve God and Mammon
Jesus ends off this passage with this statement on masters. He identifies the two masters of men, one is God the other is a Mammon. Mammon is the god of material things. It is the idolatry of wealth and material gain; it is when we make our meaning, our security, or significance and our happiness, our wealth and the things that wealth can give us that is mammon.
Now, as we have discussed, many of us can’t even see that we are enslaved by this little “g” god. But most of us hopelessly are. And in fact, given the chance we would compromise ourselves our ideals our morals for a little more of it.
I read a post online a while ago that said would you send your father to jail for a million dollars? To which someone wrote below; well Nelson Mandela went to jail for 25 years and look where he ended up, so who am I to stand in the way of my father’s character development.
As a culture we would almost do anything for money! So, how do we free ourselves from it? Because, and I warn you out of love, make money your god and he will eat you alive!
The only way to escape the worship of mammon is to replace your worship – your love – of money with another love. A love that you were designed for: Jesus.
You see you want the security money would give you because you have not found the transcendent security that the love of God in Christ Jesus gives you. You want the significance that money gives you because you have not found your worth in being a child of God. You want the power of money because you have not experiences the peace that is found by being loved as Christ has loved you!
Money masks our deeper needs the needs that were created by God to be fulfilled only by Him! That is why Jesus says you cannot serve both God and mammon (money)! Money will strip away the very things that God has designed you for.
As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
We cannot hope to become less greedy, less enslaved by money when we are not seeking our fulfilment our hope our everything in God and God alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So church; what are your hidden goals? What are the “loves” that are blinding you to your real need for God and God alone to be your hope, your joy, your treasure of your heart?
Because what you treasure you will go after and I would encourage you to see if it is really worth the going after? Will it really fulfil you? Will it really bring you happiness; if it is not God, it wont!