Tag Archives: Treasure

God is enough

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73:1–28 ESV)

I love the honesty of Scriptures – the writer acknowledges the reality of how it seems that wicked people often times seem to have relatively few problems and walk in relative ease.  “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalms 73:3 ESV)  This can even cause us to be envious.  This is a psalm to push us to contentment, even when it seems like those who do not follow God are walking in prosperity.  It cautions us not to be tempted to follow their lead.

Verses 4-12 reveal some of the ways that their lives are prosperous & easy – they have plenty of food & resources and seem to be spared the futility & troubles that the rest of humanity walks in.  Verse 6 is a turning point:  “therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.” (Psalms 73:6 ESV).  Because their lives have been relatively easy, because they have had few difficulties they become prideful – as if they had spared themselves from these difficulties due to their own abilities.  This is like Romans 1:28-31 where there is a failure to acknowledge God and His goodness.  When we take credit for the good in our lives and don’t give it to Him we become glory thieves.  We have natural abilities that we did not generate on our own.  We did not choose the families that we were born in or that we were exposed to the gospel.  We could have just as easily been born in complete poverty where the gospel is not preached and anarchy is the law of the land.  We did not choose that.

There is a point at which we have to ask ourselves if difficulty & suffering that ultimately strengthens our faith is worth it or do we really just want an easy, comfortable life.  Do we want comfort, security & ease or Jesus?  They seem to be mutually exclusive.  The psalmist’s logic goes like this:  because their lives have been relatively painless & prosperous they have become prideful at their circumstances & now they walk in all sorts of hard hearted “follies.”  They look down upon others, oppress them & pridefully brag against God & others.  ““How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”” (Psalms 73:11 ESV).  The writer concludes like this:  “Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.” (Psalms 73:12 ESV).  We have to begin to see some of the difficulties in our lives as a gift of grace to us because it causes us to see Him more clearly.

Why is it that we seem to think that we can have prosperity & fail to see how prosperity can create problems in our pursuit of Jesus.  You can’t chase both at the same time (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13).  If you have a life of relative comfort, ease & prosperity be grateful, but be aware of its power to draw you away from singular devotion to Jesus!

There is a tinge of bitterness and jealousy at the prosperity of the wicked – it doesn’t seem right or fair!  “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.” (Psalms 73:13–15 ESV)  A true heart of bitterness is revealed.  Who hasn’t felt this way when life seems to be going so unjustly?  Our bitterness in situations like this spill into all areas of our life – and is normally rooted in a bitterness towards God.  Honesty & bitterness at what seems to be unjust is welcomed by God.  Is He not the Sovereign omniscient Lord of all?  He knows what’s in your heart, you might as well tell Him!  Jesus’ death bought you the right to confidently approach God as Father and share what is really going on inside of you.  There is no more hiding or pretending for the Christian.

What we see revealed was the psalmist’s real motives.  “All in vain have I kept my heart clean.”  The singer reveals that what he really wanted was God’s blessing.  Isn’t this true of us – don’t we desire God’s blessing & protection more than we desire His presence?  This is especially true when life is difficult; don’t let the bitterness sit in your heart, let it diagnosis your idolatrous desire for God’s goodness and protection more than His presence. The bitterness in verses 13-15 are really aimed toward God if you peel the layer of the onion all the way back to its core.  Life has not gone the way that we wanted, expected or planned and we are mad at God because He has not given us what we really think that we need or deserve.  The beauty of the gospel is that we get reconciled with God – that is it.  We get God, nothing else is guaranteed which frees us from bitterness and anger.

We feel like the psalmist when we believe that God has abandoned us?  Brutish ignorance is the result of a bitter heart that feels like it has been treated unfairly (verses 21-22).  And yet, the psalmist is careful not to let his bitterness spill over onto others so as to undermine their faith (especially the faith of the next generation, see verse 15).  This is wise counsel, but it still does not deliver us from bitterness.  Trying to understand this is a wearisome task on our own; it is futile, meaningless.  We can mull it over, try to figure it out and weigh it on all sides, we can wear ourselves out trying to understand, but the answer is not in us; the answer is not found under the sun.

It is wearisome, futile & meaningless until we come in to the presence of God.  Perspective becomes clear in the presence of God, we get above the trees in order to see the forest, we are comforted at His presence, we see that there is a larger & grander plan than just us.  In His presence, trusting God doesn’t seem meaningless any longer.  The psalmist starts to sound like Habakkuk (see Habakkuk 3:17-19) as his perspective shifts.  The smallness of creation becomes apparent when we are in the presence of the infinite Almighty.

The Psalmist turns the corner as a result of being in the presence of God (v23).  He realizes that he is with God because God is his sustainer, protector & guide.  Whom do we have in heaven besides God (more specifically Jesus, who is interceding at our right hand)?  The heart has shifted from dwelling upon the horizontal to seeing the vertical realities as it proclaims “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (Psalms 73:25 ESV).  Is this your singular affection?  This is what happens to the heart that has been in the presence of God – to gaze on the beauty of majesty, albeit veiled, always produces a peace that surpasses all understanding & a heart that sees Him as the supreme treasure worth trading everything for.  Sanctification involves us getting ourselves to the sanctuary and begging God to reveal Himself.

Regardless of what happens in this world even though our heart & our flesh fail us, we find that God is our strength and our portion – He is enough, regardless of what is happening around us (v26).  Tough marriage, difficult child, physical ailment, financial stress, relational breakdown, overall futility in life?  Go to the sanctuary and beg God to reveal Himself and stare until you see it.  When He reveals His majesty, your perspective will begin to change.  Things end badly for those who don’t desire God, “but for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73:28 ESV).  This life is brief, pursue Him as the supreme Treasure that He is!

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Singular devotion, first affection

““If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:6–11 ESV)

Loving God with our whole heart precedes the closest of human relationships (siblings, children, spouse or friend).  In this passage, if someone close tries to draw their affections & obedience after a false god then they were not to follow them, listen to them, pity them, spare them or conceal them.  This is radical in a culture where high value was placed upon family.  Singular devotion to God comes before family.

Radical measures are again called for when they are called to stone the tempter, and they are called to be the first one to cast the stone!  Imagine casting a stone against your sister, husband, child or best friend.  The standard of God’s holiness is HIGH.  Do we pursue holiness with this fervor today?  Do we aggressively eradicate the idols in our midst today?  

Singular devotion is of such importance that He instructs the people to completely destroy  one of their own cities if it is given over to following other gods (v 12-15).  Are we this violent with the competing affections in our hearts?  Probably not!  God longs to bless His people by showing them His mercy & grace (v 17-18).  But, the people must obey God – obedience starts with loving the Lord with all of our hearts and not having any other gods. 

They were never able to obey out of a heart of love and we persistently fail also.  Thankfully Someone did obey perfectly out of a heart of love.  He not only took our sin, but also gave us His perfect obedience so God continually showers us with mercy & grace.  Thank God for a substitute.  Be thankful that His grip on & delight in you is not contingent upon your grip on & delight in Him.  Your spiritual performance does not direct His love, approval & affection for you; Jesus imputed that to you so you can stop striving!

Good people don’t need grace

““A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41–50 ESV)““A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41–50 ESV)

I once had a friend tell me that the reason that a pastor of ours was so passionate about his pursuit of Christ was because he had lived such a dark life before he became a Christian.  He quoted Luke 7:47 to justify his thinking (“those who have been forgiven much, love much”).  I still recall that conversation because it is true.  We often times think that God’s grace covers the gap between what we have done right & His perfect standard.  The problem with this thinking is that we fail to understand that we have never done anything right before God – all of our affections, actions and motivations are stained by sin.  The bible describes us using phrases like:  dead (last time I checked, dead people don’t do stuff), enemies of God, objects of wrath, destined for destruction and that no one is good in His sight.

Isn’t that the point of this parable?  Isn’t Jesus trying to get us to see the absurdity of our morality based thinking.  This is the Creator of the Universe – do we really think that we have anything that we can bring before Him that makes Him say, “that guy is really killing it, I’m really glad he’s on my team?”  It is true that many people who were saved out of checkered pasts fraught with promiscuity, drugs, drunkenness & immorality have a passion that other Christians lack.  The reason for this is because they are more likely to realize their desperate need for the grace of God because they have such a good understanding of their own depravity.  But, the truth is that EVERYONE is in dire need of grace.

Think about the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus tells in Luke 15.  We love the idea of God’s amazing grace towards the “worst of sinners” like the younger brother.  Unfortunately, we are some times more like the older brother in the story – indignant that the Father would be so gracious to that undeserving rebel and not doting over us for our faithful obedience.  Do you see it?  The older brother (like many of us) had grown dependent on his own obedience as the reason that God should approve of him.  He was self righteous because he had followed the rules; he had lived obediently.  The problem is that we can never earn the approval of God (God’s approval of you was earned by Jesus on the cross, period).  This thinking causes us to believe that God now “owes us” us because we have so faithfully obeyed.  The God of this universe owes us nothing – except His just wrath.

We all slip into this thinking without intentionality in our lives.  We must regularly beg God to quicken our hearts and enlighten our eyes to see His perfect, holy & sovereign nature AND just how rebellious our hearts are towards Him.  The better we understand these things at a deep heart level, the more profoundly grateful (like the woman in the parable above) we are for the unearned approval of the Creator.  Good people don’t need grace, but you aren’t good (Romans 3:12) – only One was good.

Battling Bitterness with the Gospel of Grace

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14–15 ESV)

This section comes on the heels of the section of scripture (Hebrews 12:3-13) that encourages the reader to endure their difficult circumstances and to view them as God’s loving, fatherly discipline.  He calls them (and us) to strive or work towards being peaceful with others and toward holiness – without which no one will see God.  We know that we are positionally holy because of the perfect life and atoning death of Jesus, but we are also called to live holy lives – to see our outside begin to match what He is doing inside.  The community aspect of our faith comes in to focus in verse 15, as we are called to make sure that no one in the community of faith fails to obtain the grace of God – that is everyone in our community understands and embraces the grace that God extends to the elect.  We are called to preach and press the gospel constantly in our lives and in our churches.

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:15 ESV).  Press the gospel and grace, bathe yourself and your community in it and make sure that there is no “root of bitterness” among you.  This is the same Greek phrase that the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses in Deuteronomy 29:18:  “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit,” (Deuteronomy 29:18 ESV).  When our heart turns away from God and looks to created things as the object of its worship, bitterness is the common byproduct.  Why?  Because we feel entitled to goodness and blessing and we aren’t getting what we think is due us.  Bitterness indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of grace and it is contagious in a community of faith.  When you find yourself struggling with anger or bitterness, the answer is not “just stop it,” or “try harder.”  The answer is to beg God to help you with your unbelief (Mark 9:24) and to help you to see His spectacular grace (undeserved approval) afforded to you, the chief of all sinners.  Grace is not owed to us, but is freely given in the person of Jesus.

Pursue peace and holiness as a community; in order to do this we must keep the gospel of God’s grace as the central component in our minds or else unbelief & idolatry can sneak in and produce bitterness in our lives and in our communities of faith.

We’re forgiven, the alter is closed, your sacrifices are not accepted

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1–4 ESV)

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’
then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10–18 ESV)

The Law (or our adherence to a moral ethic) is powerless to make perfect those who follow it.  It reveals and restrains sin, but is powerless to restore or renew.  The Law and its sacrifices are but a shadow of that which was to come, namely the perfect fulfillment of it – JESUS.  If the law could have offered true, lasting forgiveness then worshipers would not have had to continue to offer sacrifices annually, but it cannot cleanse the conscience from sin.  The sacrifices served the worshiper by reminding them of their sin, its grip on their lives and their debt to God, but the blood of bulls and goats can’t take away sin.  The entire Hebrew sacrificial system was built upon sacrifices being offered for the remission of sin, but the author is saying that the blood of animals is powerless to take away our sins – last years sacrifice won’t cover this year’s sins.  Additionally, the blood of goats and bulls can’t cleanse the conscience – a permanent solution to sin is required.  The entire sacrificial system is looking forward to the only acceptable sacrifice that would ever be offered.  Something far greater and more powerful was required to not just pay for sin, but to kill it – once for all.  Jesus’ single sacrifice was sufficient – so much so that He reigns in heaven with authority over all things.  His single sacrifice for sin “has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14 ESV)  Old Testament believers were saved the same way that we are – by placing their absolute trust in the provision of God for their salvation.  God does not delight in sacrifices and offerings, He is after hearts that are fully His.  The sacrifices had no intrinsic value in and of themselves – the value was in communicating the costliness of sin and the extreme price that would have to be paid to deal with our treasonous hearts.  We are sanctified (made holy and grow in holiness) by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

As a result of the singular sacrifice of sin, God has now fulfilled the promise to write His laws on our hearts and minds.  This means that we now desire to know God, follow Him, and obey Him – though not perfectly, but with a new affection for Him that the law was powerless to produce.  Anytime we become dependent upon the law to prove ourselves righteous, try to change, or earn God’s approval, we fail because law based living is powerless to take away sins.  Only the grace of God and the new heart that desires to know and obey God produces lasting transformation.  Which of these most accurately reflects your faith:  1) I obey because it is my responsibility, God says to, it will make God happy with me, to earn His approval, to pacify His wrath, to increase His love for me, to work Him into my debt so that He owes me or the more faithfully I obey, the more God will bless my life.  2) I obey because God loves me unconditionally, did not spare His own son to redeem me, set His redeeming affections upon me before He placed a star in the sky, I am perfectly loved and accepted by God because of the sacrifice of Jesus or I want to know Him more and see His glory.  We’re forgiven, the alter is closed, your sacrifices are not accepted.  “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:15–18 ESV)  We look to Christ for our growth and perfection.  He has earned it for us.  Instead of personal, hard fought, self disciplined effort, the believer looks to Christ for a cleansed conscience, complete forgiveness, power to change and complete perfection in the future.  For we will be made perfect – our rebel hearts will be overthrown (Hebrew 11:40, 12:23)

God will not be domesticated or manipulated by our religious systems

“Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.  He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”” (Isaiah 66:1–4 ESV)

God seems to be constantly reminding us that He cannot be pinned in, domesticated or manipulated by the systems, institutions and laws that He has given us.  All of the ceremonies, laws, worship, covenants and military victories were (and still) are designed to point to the glory of God and the worship of the Creator.  Instead the people regularly attempted to use these religious things in an attempt to manipulate God in to getting what they wanted.  The problem is that what they wanted was His benevolent blessings more than they wanted Him.  God looks favorably on the dependent, lowly & contrite spirit that recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and throw himself on the grace and mercy of God. (Matthew 5)

God views our worship that is not accompanied by a trembling, contrite heart is wicked as murder or idolatry.  God is not interested in external compliance to His laws – God is after heart level transformation and increasing affection for Him.  The people were using compliance to their Levitical worship in an attempt to control God and get Him to bless and protect them.  We, too, often times, believe that God “owes” us protection, blessing or prosperity because of our morally clean lives or ability to keep God’s commands.  This is idolatry that reveals a heart that is more interested in God’s blessings and gifts than is in knowing or walking with Him – this is the default mode of the human heart, but even Christians must carefully guard their hearts and ask what their true motivations are – what their desire is for and where their real treasures are.  Our affections matter, they are the central component in the battle for our faith.

Righteousness does not come from obedience, righteousness comes from faith which leads to obedience. They may look the same on the outside, but the innards are worlds apart!

Righteousness does not come from obedience, righteousness comes from faith which leads to obedience.  They may look the same on the outside, but the innards are worlds apart!  Their “delight” in verse 2 is not genuine as they attempt to use their religious behavior as a tool to pressure and manipulate God to get what they wantBut their real delight is in God’s good gifts, not in the Giver of the gifts.  Their false piety is apparent by their oppression of their workers, fighting and bickering.  Our obedience is never a director of God’s favor; it is a reflection that we have already received God’s favor – their is a huge difference.

““Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?” (Isaiah 58:1–5 ESV)

Has your affection toward God grown cold?

Why does Jesus say that you can’t pursue both worldly treasure and eternal treasure?  Are you attempting to chase them both?  Does this help explain why being spiritually disciplined is difficult or your affection for God has withered and your soul has grown dry?  (Matthew 6:22-24)

The primary reason that most of us have little spiritual discipline or affection for God is because what we really treasure is here – it is transient.  You cannot pursue both earthly and heavenly treasure for they are mutually exclusive – you have to make a choice.  Our tendency is to try to pursue both which reveals our natural proclivity to be double minded.1  The point is that our ultimate affection should be toward God and nothing else, which is one of Jesus’ common themes in His teaching.2  Jesus is personifying the pursuit of wealth and tells us that we have to choose who we will serve.  We can’t serve two masters – our lives aren’t compartmentalized.  Just as no one shares a slave, because the same degree of devotion to both masters is not possible, “since a slave is the sole property of one master, he must give the master exclusive service.  A disciple’s loyalties cannot be divided—that is, one is either a slave to God or to money.”3  You can’t have two treasures on the throne of your heart.  There is nothing wrong with nice things – but where is your mind’s affections on these things?  Do you have to have them?  Do they identify you?  Is your hand closed around them?  Can you honestly say, “I don’t need that?”  Do you have them or do they have you?  We’d rather hedge our bets and have the best of both worlds, but the best of the eternal kingdom requires an absolute abandonment of the pursuit of the things of this world.  A slave is able to follow two masters as long as they travel together, but when they take separate paths, he can no longer follow both – he must make a decision.  It is far easier to make that decision before you come to the fork in the road.  You can only chase one thing at a time.  When money masters us, God becomes the means to bless us.  When God masters us, money becomes the means by which we proclaim the Gospel.  You can’t chase both.  Are you trying to serve two masters and attach God’s name to it?

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1 “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8 ESV); “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8 ESV)
2 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26–27 ESV); “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37–38 ESV)
3 “Serve (Gk. douleuoœ) indicates the work of a slave, not an employee. Since a slave is the sole property of one master, he must give the master exclusive service. A disciple’s loyalties cannot be divided—that is, one is either a slave to God or to money.”  Lane T. Dennis and Wayne Grudem, eds., The ESV Study Bible (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), note on Matthew 6:24

What you treasure reveals what your heart is really pursuing

What are you spending your life pursuing and building – worldly, transient treasures or faith?  (Matthew 6:21)

Matthew 6:21 is the focal point of this section; Jesus tells us,“for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What you treasure reveals what your heart is really pursuing.  We reveal what we treasure by how we spend our time, what we pursue, what we spend our resources on, and what consumes the majority of our thinking.   Regardless of what we tell ourselves and others, these things reveal what we really treasure in life.  How we view our money just reveals what is really going on in our heart – what we really think is worth chasing.  Do you see life as if this is all there is or do you see a future economy?  Would the way that you spend your time, money and pursuit bear witness to this?  Instead of viewing worldly wealth as the end goal of our pursuit, we need a shift to occur so that we use it to invest in eternal things – to advance the gospel, care for the poor, investing in a future economy.  What do you dream about?  When you say, “If only I had ____,” or “if only ____ were true,” or “if only _____would do ____,” you reveal what you really treasure.  What we treasure is where our hearts really are, which drives disciplines, desires and behaviors.