Last week I was preaching from Mathews’s Gospel and considering Jesus’ teaching on laying up treasures in heaven. I was interested to discover that the Jews of Jesus’s day considered treasure in heaven to be intimately bound up with godly character. According to Barclay:
The Jews had a famous story about a certain King Monobaz of Adiabēne who became a convert to Judaism. ‘Monobaz distributed all his treasures to the poor in the year of famine. His brothers sent to him and said, “Thy fathers gathered treasures, and added to those of their fathers, but thou hast dispersed yours and theirs.” He said to them, “My fathers gathered treasures for below, I have gathered treasures for above; they stored treasures in a place over which the hand of man can rule, but I have stored treasures in a place over which the hand of man cannot rule; my fathers collected treasures which bear no interest, I have gathered treasures which bear interest; my fathers gathered treasures of money, I have gathered treasures in souls; my fathers gathered treasures for others, I have gathered treasures for myself; my fathers gathered treasures in this world, I have gathered treasures for the world to come.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 278–279.)
Thus the storing of treasure in heaven was intimately associated with godly character. There are three things that strike me about Jesus’ teaching In Mathew 6
- There are rewards given by God for how we live in the present, (6:4; 6:6; 6:18)
- Jesus’s disciple are to store up treasures in Heaven
- Treasures were intimately connected to Character.
When it comes to investing time and energy why dont we live this out to the max? Why are we more concerned about finishing that latest series on Netflix than we are about training for spiritual fitness, and growing in godliness, with storing up treasures and seeking rewards from our Father? Perhaps its because we are apathethic, perhaps we settle for two little. There could be a multiplicty of reasons but Jesus cuts to the chase when he talks about the eye.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Mat 6)
A bad eye is short-sighted and lacks focus and vision, Peter picks up this same theme in his Epistle. He saysb that we have been given everything we need for life and godliness and exhorts believers to grow in character. He simultaneously warns that we can lack theses things and become unfruitful and ineffective. This is because Peter says we are so NEAR SIGHTED.” We suffer from a kind of spiritual myopia, forgetting that we were cleansed from our former sins:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins: (2 Peter 1 5-9)
The reason then why we are less concerned with godly character and spiritual fitness is because our vision is out of wack. Our eyes are focussed on the wrong stuff! And when we are foccussed on the wrong stuff our loyalties get divided (Mat 6:24). We need corrective vision, lazer eye surgery.
Jesus comes to take away the sin of the world, he also comes to show us how to live and die for the Glory of God and how to store up treasures for ourselves that will last. Receive Jesus, get corrective vision, grow in Godly character, store up treasures that will last forever. Invest well.
Over to you
- What are some of the idols in the way of me storing up treasures?
- Has my vision come out of focus, do I need corrective vision?
- Have I forgotton that I have been cleansed from my former sins?