Where Is Your Treasure - the IMPERATIVE! Matthew 6:20 - January 25, 2015, Pastor Richard
Today we will wrap up our series on Christian Prospectors - Searching for Eternal Treasure. Last week we considered the COMMAND in Matthew 6:19: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Today we want to look at the IMPERATIVE in the next verse. Before we read the verse I would like to define “imperative”: An imperative is something that is “absolutely necessary or required.” It is a “command, something that demands attention or action, an unavoidable obligation or requirement.” Verse 20 is an IMPERATIVE -- it demands attention AND action:
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Treasures we store up on earth will do us no good beyond this short life. We brought nothing into the world, and we will take nothing out. It is imperative that we store up treasures in heaven. So let’s jump right in:
How Can We Lay Up Treasures in Heaven? The Usual Answer.
Almost every sermon or lesson you have heard on this subject, maybe every single one, pointed out ONE WAY to lay up treasures in heaven. And that is to give to the poor or needy. The argument cites a separate passage -- Matthew 19:21 where Jesus answered a rich, young man who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
I’d like to suggest to you that there are more ways than this to lay up eternal reward. This was one interaction with a man who was quite wealthy. What do you suppose Jesus might have said to the man if he had no riches to his name? Would he then have no opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven? Does it take money to lay up treasure in heaven? If so, it would certainly appear the rich have a great advantage over those who aren’t blessed with earthly wealth.
The Greater Investment Principle
The greater principle is that EVERY SACRIFICE WILL BE REWARDED! Let me attempt to PROVE this to you!
You see, the rich young man had to be willing to GIVE UP his pursuit of wealth if he was to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is Lord, if Jesus is KING, then there are many sacrifices that will have to be made. Some sacrifices are smaller, and some are larger. When I made the decision to follow Jesus Christ, to make Him the King of my life, my path led to Bible College and then into the Pastoral ministry. In the CoG that obedience usually means living in near poverty pastoring many of our churches. There were years when we had to trust that God would care for the health of ourselves and especially our children because we could not afford health insurance. There were many other things that were sacrificed as well.
One of the toughest sacrifices of this obedience was leaving our families and friends behind. We might as well have been missionaries serving in a foreign country, as we were serving in the deep, deep south. I longed for even a single friendship with someone I knew, someone who knew me. For 13 years the only close friend I had lived over an hour away, and the distance, and our schedules made visits rare. Jan missed her family so much it was really hard for her to bear. But we were serving the Lord.
My friend, I never doubted that these sacrifices would be rewarded:
Matthew 19:28-30 "Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."
That's a pretty good return on your investment! Not 100 per cent, but 100 TIMES! As I have said many times: when Jesus Christ returns bringing salvation to all those who live for Him -- there will be NO DISAPPOINTMENTS and NO REGRETS! Not one person in the Kingdom of God will EVER bemoan what he or she sacrificed in this life! But let's consider some other common scenarios.
Pastors often chide their congregation by saying "you won’t be saved by simply going to church!" But don’t you think it is an essential activity if you are truly putting the Kingdom first? And anyone sitting in a church this morning sacrificed doing something else to worship their Savior and King! Don’t think it will go unrewarded! It’s exciting to realize EVERYTHING you do is an investment in the Kingdom if you put the Kingdom first.
Many Christians fail to grasp the fact that the way they conduct themselves and the attitude they exhibit at work is vitally important in terms of laying up treasures in heaven. And that's a great thing when many of us invest the largest percentage of our time on earth into our jobs and careers. When you fail to do your best - for whatever reason (I hate my job, I don't like my boss, I don't feel like working today) you have just LOST the opportunity to gain an eternal reward for your investment of time that day. Here's why:
Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
You see, if you got yourself into the proper frame of mind on your drive to work, you would have prayed this prayer: "God, you know I have a hard time making myself go to work today. But I'm going to do my best to approach my job and every situation that occurs today as if I am serving you. And I'm going to give you my best, and I'm going to give it my all, because I'm INVESTING this day in your Kingdom." (Or something like that!)
What was Jesus saying in Matthew 6:33?
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you!"
Isn’t He saying that THIS LIFE is INTIMATELY CONNECTED to LIFE in the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Repeat). When you became a Christian, you began living for the Kingdom. In a sense you are ALREADY there - since Jesus is your King. Jesus was saying, “Put the Kingdom FIRST - and God will see that you have everything you need in this life!”
I think this principle is also found in Jesus’ response to the rich young man, but we miss it if we focus solely on money. What if we can invest anything and everything into God’s Kingdom? You know, you can donate a car to “Make a Wish Foundation.” You can even get a legal and lawful IRS tax deduction! But what if you could invest your car into the Kingdom?
There are cars, trucks and even vans out in the parking lot that have been used to build the Kingdom of God. There is a small SUV just outside the door that has carried thousands of pounds of food items to stock the shelves of the food pantry. It has logged hundreds and hundreds of miles just picking up and delivering food. Isn’t this laying up treasure in heaven -- or does only cash count? What about the gas charges to fill the tank? What about vehicle payments, insurance and upkeep?
We put our Avalanche up for sale this fall, and had several people interested. We don’t need a vehicle that carries five when there’s just the two of us. I’ve got work trucks for my transportation. Had two people on the hook when Jan and I realized if we sold it we wouldn’t be able to give several of the youth a ride home from youth group every Wednesday night. Without being able to carry 4 kids, we’d have to make two trips. That decision cost quite a bit of money -- but it's money invested in the Kingdom of God.
There’s a car out in the parking lot that is used weekly to give people rides to doctors visits and other important appointments. If that isn’t using a car to lay ip treasures in heaven, I don’t know what is. Every car in the lot - except the neighbor who uses it for their personal parking lot - every car was used to bring someone to church today! That’s got to count for something! Donate your car to the Kingdom of God!
Invest your vehicle in building the Kingdom of God! But did you also notice those few examples I cited also required another important investment: the investment of TIME!
It takes a great investment of time and energy to maintain the pantry. It takes a substantial investment of time to help a person with a personal need, whether it’s a trip to the store or doctor’s office, or even just a visit. It takes an investment of time to be here every Sunday to teach a class - and it's not just class time, it's the time of preparation for that class. It takes time to clean the church, and that's one of the dreariest jobs I can think of. Week after week. It's so much more fun and fulfilling to prepare and deliver a sermon. Preaching is it's own reward. But not cleaning the church. I have always thought the sacrifice of a person to perform the thankless job of cleaning the church would be greatly rewarded -- and quite possibly more so than delivering the morning message. The least will be the greatest in the Kingdom!!! Isn't that laying up treasures in heaven! It's not just giving to the poor. It's not just money. Anything done with the right intent can be laying up treasures in heaven.
I have found it is often easier to give someone money than to give them time. It’s easier to give someone $20 for gas than to go get a gas can, drive to the gas station to fill it up, and take it back to them. It’s easier to give someone $40 bucks for groceries than to take them to the grocery store and help them pick up what they need.
2 Corinthians 9:11 touches on what I am attempting to share with you today. The Apostle says, “You will be made rich IN EVERY WAY so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” I just do not believe that the ONLY way to lay up treasure in heaven is by giving money to the poor. I think we need to be conscious of the fact that EVERY THING God has blessed us with can be shared: our money, our time, our energy, our compassion, every possession, our gifts, our strength, our very lives!
The principle is that EVERYTHING you HAVE, and EVERYTHING you ARE, can be invested in the Kingdom of God, and that, my friend, is a worthwhile pursuit. It doesn’t matter how rich you are. It only matters how generous you are.
Investing Your Very Life!
Yes, even our lives can be invested. You can donate a kidney to the National Kidney Foundation. Hopefully you’ve got the little red heart on your drivers license which will notify authorities in the unfortunate case of a fatal accident that you wish your organs to be donated to someone in need. You can even give a kidney as a “living donor”.
• Addie: My name is Addie and I donated my right kidney at age 24 to one of my best friends, Amy, in May 2014. Amy has an autoimmune disease called lupus that attacked and destroyed her kidneys, and she was on dialysis for 3 years. By a miracle of God, we were a near perfect kidney match! Today we are both doing great.
I would encourage anyone who is considering living kidney donation to be your own advocate, do a lot of research, and pray a lot if you are a person of faith. Ask lots of questions. It is a huge decision, one that can be emotionally taxing at times, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has been totally worth the challenge! Seeing Amy feeling great and knowing that she can dialysis-free brings me joy!
• Brandon: I gave my left kidney to a fraternity brother and close friend after hearing about his kidney function depleting to a mere 8% and leaving him in end stage renal failure due to IGA nephropathy. IGA is a genetic disorder which basically means his immune system saw his kidneys as invaders and attacked them. Initially he had high blood pressure, but then the IGA ended up doing him in. He was able to be on in-home dialysis, and then after much testing we had our transplant on 7/17/2014.
I’m rocking one kidney playing with my three boys (now 7, 5, and 11 months). My recipient is doing awesome and enjoyed his first family holiday with his wife and two little daughters, traveling to various parties and appreciating his newfound freedom.
• Laura: I donated my kidney a year ago to a stranger. I tried to help someone else who ended up getting a kidney from another source. After knowing I was approved to donate I couldn’t walk away so I decided to donate my kidney altruistically. This was the best decision of my life. I was able to save someone’s life and in the process made an amazing new friend.
The surgery and recovery went better than I expected and two weeks after our surgery my recipient and I met. Tara has polycystic kidney disease and had at surgery time tumors on both kidneys weighing 30 pounds each! Needless to say her life was agony. I am so happy that my decision to help Tara changed her life and ultimately mine too.
This past year since surgery I have also donated blood four times and donated my hair to Locks of Love. I have lost over 30 pounds and I walk every day to keep my healthy new look up! Most of all I have made a new friend and we are forever connected by a surgery that changed both of our lives.
I point out these powerful examples to illustrate that there are countless ways you can lay up treasures in heaven. Some sacrifices we will make out of love for the recipient. But many are out of our love for our Lord and I am of the opinion that every act we perform out of our love and devotion for our Lord will receive reward! But even if it didn't, they are opportunities for us to demonstrate to our Savior how much we love Him and appreciate what He has done for us. I just don't think He will forget even a single act of kindness.
As we agreed at the beginning of the message, Jesus was sharing an IMPERATIVE. This demands Attention and ACTION: "Lay up treasures in heaven." I think Jesus is saying "INVEST your LIFE in the Kingdom of God!" Make deposits every day. Make your life count eternally. Recognize the BIG picture in everything you do - this life is fleeting, like a breath. Do things in this life that will insure you have a place in God's eternal Kingdom. Look for opportunities to invest in the Kingdom. Use those opportunities when they come along -- and they will come along daily. Got the most boring job known to man? Perform it for the Lord! He'll use you in ways you never imagined.
What a glorious realization - you and I will have countless opportunities throughout this day to make Kingdom investments, all the way from sharing a smile, or a kind comment or encouragement to larger opportunities that we may not even see coming! What we're talking about is living each day with a Kingdom perspective.
"Father, I committed my life to you when I was baptized into Jesus Christ. I was raised to live a new life in Christ. And that life is comprised of days, one day after another. I confess I often approach my days from a selfish perspective, thinking primarily of what I can get "out of" things, and focusing on temporal things. Right now I dedicate this day to living for Your glorious Kingdom, serving Christ my King. Help me to recognize all the opportunities I have to make investments in the Kingdom by showing love and kindness, putting other's needs above my own, and thus to live this day in intimate interaction with Christ!"