Jesus & {Your?} His Money: Part 1 - Money as Treasure

August 25, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is the first in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 8). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward and use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

I would like us to start by considering the foundational principle for Jesus’ understanding on money. The greatest danger of money is that it easily becomes a treasure of the heart. Money is valuable or can acquire valuable items. The value of money, or the items it acquires, is contingent upon how much it satisfies the longings of the heart, such as the longing to security or significance. To the extent that we perceive that money can satisfy the longings of our hearts is the extent that it becomes a treasure of our hearts.

Hear Jesus’ teaching:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)

The last line is pivotal in understanding how money operates as a danger. Money can captivate your heart when money is valued as a treasure. Jesus goes on to say, “No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and money” (v. 24). God will not share your heart with other treasures. He desires, and demands, to be the sole treasure of your heart.

Consider the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. Why does he leave Jesus sorrowful in verse 22? He was a morally upright man. He obeyed the commands of God. Yet, Jesus perceived that his heart did not treasure God, but his own wealth. Jesus’ invitation in verse 21, “Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor,” does not introduce a “works” condition to be saved; it was meant to expose his wayward heart.

How does understanding money as a treasure impact us?
1. The treasure in your life is that which satisfies the longings of your heart. If you have placed your faith in Christ, God has become the treasure of your heart. But what competes for your heart? How does money or the things acquired by money tempt you as satisfactions for security (your retirement, your “daily bread”, etc.) or significance (status in your neighborhood, before friends, etc)? While Jesus seems to speak in absolutes (“no one can serve two masters”), we still are challenged to grow in our valuing God, and the security and significance offered in the Gospel, over all other lesser treasures.

2. Part of Jesus’ appeal is the appeal to our longing to be satisfied. Notice in Matthew 6:19-20 he compares the value of earthly treasures with heavenly treasures. Earthly treasure is subject to decay and corruption. It does not last. Therefore the security and significance it promises cannot last either. Heavenly treasure, enjoying God and Christ, however, is eternal. Nothing can take our enjoyment of God away. In a sense, Jesus is saying, “Do you want to be filled up for a day or for eternity? Do you want security and a sense of significance for this week or for all of time?” He knows the longings of the heart and he makes the case that God is the superior treasure, and, therefore, the superior satisfaction.

If we are going to digest Jesus’ teaching about money, we need to understand his fundamental approach on treasures of the heart. If we know money as a tempting treasure, we can begin to understand how our heart can be swayed. We’ll take this up again next week.


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