You Should Be Committed, Part 7

Last time, we looked at this paragraph from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19 – 21 | TNIV)

Jesus wants His people to give to the work of the Lord while they are living on earth so that they may build up credit in Heaven. There’s no other way to interpret what our Lord is saying in these verses. As a believer, you can obsess over investing all your worldly wealth in a bank, and if you do, then that’s where your heart will be. Or you can do the smart thing. Invest some of your worldly wealth in the work of the Lord, adding to your treasure in Heaven. According to Jesus, if you do that, then your heart will be in Heaven.

Will there really be treasure waiting in Heaven for you? Some people don’t think so. But Jesus seemed to think there will be, and that’s good enough for me. Peter also believed Jesus:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3 – 5 | TNIV)

As far as Peter was concerned, our Heavenly inheritance – which is not a chance to live in Heaven as some think – is a gift from God in the same vein as our new birth! The apostle equates salvation with a tangible inheritance waiting for us in Heaven! I say our inheritance or treasure in Heaven is tangible because, first, it can never “perish, spoil or fade.” Second, it is being “kept in heaven for you.” In other words, your treasure is reserved for you. It’s yours. God has your treasure on deposit for you in His Heavenly vault, and He’s waiting to give it to you.

Jesus also said this about our treasure in Heaven:

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33, 34 | TNIV)

This is all about Christian stewardship and love. Engaging in proper stewardship is an act of love; an act of love toward God and your fellow man. The smartest thing a Christian can do to get ready for his future is simply to prepare for it. You have a retirement account. You have a pension plan. You ought to have an eternal investment, too. When you practice proper Christian stewardship, you are really engaging in a paradox. You are storing your wealth, not in “purses,” which wear out, but in heavenly purses, which last forever. Christian stewardship is exchanging the earthly for the heavenly; the temporary for the permanent.

Jesus is giving us a tremendous principle for living here that is really for all people, but especially for His people. Whoever we are, whatever our situation in life may be – whether we are rich or poor, famous or infamous, saints or sinners – our hearts will be where are treasures are, and our treasures will be put where our hearts are. So, if we love God and are committed to Him, we will be making deposits in Heaven by using our wealth, possessions, and talents for God’s glory. The more we give on this side of eternity, the more treasure we will be accumulating in Heaven. The more we accumulate in Heaven, the more securely our hearts will be anchored in Heaven. This principle is the single measuring rod by which we can measure the depth of our love and commitment to God. It is also a way to check our love and commitment to Christ, for when we see ourselves becoming more and more interested in accumulating earthly possessions than in heavenly treasures, it’s time to pause and reflect and take a long hard look at our spiritual health.

Back in Matthew 6, our Lord gives us some more advice to help us not only add treasure to our Heavenly inheritance, but also to live a good life in the here and now.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25 | TNIV)

Trust more

That word, “therefore,” is such an important word. It attaches this concluding section of Matthew 6 to all that came before it. Throughout Matthew 6, Jesus had emphasized three virtues of true disciples: simplicity, sincerity, and singleness. The Christian life is marked by simple truth. By sincere love and devotion to that truth. And by singleness of devotion and purpose to one Master, Jesus Christ.

If you have decided to serve Christ, then you must decide to be obedient to Him. Part of that obedience is to start doing something that unbelievers don’t do: Trust God; look to Him for His care and learn to let Him take care of you. Living like this is exactly opposite to how you used to live and how most of your family and friends live. They worry. It’s human nature to worry and fret. But if you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, then you wont live like that. Worry is a sin; it’s not a virtue. If you worry, you are passively telling God you don’t really trust Him; that you trust yourself more or other more.

George MacDonald, Scottish novelist, once said:

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.

He’s not altogether wrong, but when it comes to our relationship with God, He demands both your trust and your love, and your trust is a good indication of the kind of love your have for Him.

The big point Jesus makes in 25 is “don’t worry about your physical needs or luxuries.” The reason is simple. When you fret about things like those, it reveals where your heart is; the whole focus of your life is off. If God has given you a life and body – both far more important than food and clothing – don’t you think He’s capable of giving you what you need to support your life and body?

To support this principle, our Lord gives us some examples.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (Matthew 6:26, 27 | TNIV)

To worry about food and clothing and such things is to show how dumb you really are because you haven’t learned anything from the world all around you.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 | TNIV)

Mose of us take what Paul wrote to the Romans and apply it only to the unsaved, but there’s a kernel of truth in it for Christians, too. We believers should look at how God cares for His creation and understand that we, like the birds of the air, are part of that creation. If He cares for them, then how can He not care for us?

Charles Lindbergh once wrote,

If I had to choose, I’d rather have birds than airplanes.

That’s might be a funny thing for an aviator to write, but it tells us something very important about Lindbergh: He was smart. He knew you could learn more from birds than from airplanes. Think about this: Birds can’t sow. Birds can’t reap. Birds can’t store things in barns. But we can! You and I are supposed to sow and reap and store, and at the same time we’re supposed to trust God. That bird trusts God, and so should you. Trusting God doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be exercising some good judgment. You should save for your old age. You should have insurance. You should be prudent in how you spend your resources. But first and foremost, you should be trusting God to provide and sustain. And He will!

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (Matthew 6:27 | TNIV)

That’s a short verse that’s actually a little complicated to translate, and the TNIV did a good job. It can actually mean a couple of things: Worrying can’t make you taller. Worrying won’t make you live longer. You get the idea behind what Jesus was trying say here. Worrying about things like your health or your wealth won’t do any good. Worrying is all done inside your head, so it can’t do anything good for you. Leo Buscaglia wrote:

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.

That’s absolutely correct. Want to be miserable in thirty minutes? Start worrying about something right now. Worry is a waste of time and energy. Martin Luther, a man who had a lot to worry about, once remarked,

You pray and let God worry.

Naturally, God doesn’t worry, but you get the idea.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28 – 30 | TNIV)

Birds work after a fashion, but they don’t worry. Flowers don’t do anything except sit there, looking good. Our Lord’s point here is not that His followers should opt out of life and be lazy but that God’s provision and care are so abundant that He is able to even “clothe” stuff as transient as grass, which produces nothing and can’t endure.

Our generation isn’t the first to be concerned about clothing. The way this is written indicates that the disciples 2,000 years ago worried about what they were wearing! No wonder Jesus chastised them: “You of little faith!”

The main point

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:31, 32 | TNIV)

And here’s the main point, from the negative perspective. True disciples of Jesus aren’t supposed to live like people who don’t follow Jesus. We’re supposed to be obviously different from them, and part of that difference is worry and anxiety. We cannot be consumed with worry and anxiety because that’s how they live. Here’s the thing a lot Christians miss. We take very seriously the notion of not living like non-Christians in terms of morality and ethics. They lie and cheat. We don’t. They commit adultery and sexual sins. We don’t. They don’t live by the same ethical and moral code that followers of Jesus Christ do, and we take that very seriously. But we smile and chuckle when the pastor tells us that we shouldn’t worry. Worrying is as much a sin as lying and cheating and committing adultery because when we worry, we are behaving like pagans. We are essentially telling God that He doesn’t know what we need and that He doesn’t care about us. So, from the negative point of view: STOP the worrying, people!

But it’s not enough to just stop the worrying. Worrying must be replaced by something else. And that brings us to the positive perspective:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33, 34. TNIV)

Worry less, pray more. Stop letting your mind run away with anxiety and think on Heavenly things. That will reveal where your heart is. What do you spend your time thinking about? Your job? That’s where your heart is. Your investments? That’s where your heart is. Your family? That’s where your heart is. Your hobbies? That’s where your heart is. No wonder the average American Christian is a dysfunctional basket case, full of stress and consumed with anxiety and fear. You’re living like everybody else and suffering needlessly. Your life is mediocre at best when God intends for you to live a life of excellence in every way. If you want to be different from everybody else; if you want to stand out from the mass of mediocrity all around you, then become a dedicated, committed disciple of Jesus Christ.

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