Where's Your Treasure?

Posted 5/6/2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-34

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Words we all have heard. Words that, as we saw last week, raise questions about the way our society views wealth and the pursuit of wealth. Yet in the context of the gospel of Matthew, these words take on a meaning much deeper than simply that which the usual sermon on this verse implies.

The verses we read this morning are all part of what is called the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon begins with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and continues through the end of Matthew 7. Near the middle of this sermon, in Matthew 6:9-13, we find the Lord’s Prayer. 

Now all this is significant because in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is teaching about the life of the Kingdom. He is explaining what life in the Kingdom of God looks like. He is also instructing his disciples what a life of discipleship involves. It is as a part of this instruction in the life of discipleship that Jesus teaches them the Lord’s Prayer.

And, having taught the disciples the form of prayer throught the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus goes on to explain what the various phrases look like when God’s “will [is] done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Thus, the passage from Matthew that we read today is helping us understand what it means to ask God to “give us this day our daily bread.” 

It is in the light of this that we can see that all the verses we read for today truly do belong together. They are not just a loose collection of sayings. Together they form Jesus’ commentary on the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “give us this day our daily bread.”

Over the last 2 weeks we have been looking at how everything that is is God’s and all that we have and are is a gift of God. This truth forms the “first leg” of any understanding of Christian stewardship. We give, because all is a gift to us. We give in thankfulness for the multitude of gifts we have received from God. We give, because it all belongs to God in the first place.

Last  week we noted, in the Deuteronomy passage we read, how when we fail to remember this — when we start to claim that what we have is ours by virtue of what we have done — we become idolatrous. Today’s lesson continues to spell out just what form that idolatry takes.

When we recognize that the entire passage we read in Matthew has a unity we begin to see that the words “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” talks first and foremost about where we place our trust. This is why the passage goes on to speak about not being anxious or worrying. It is not a matter that we are called to simply “be happy” or to act as if everything will work out in the end no matter what. It is that we are called upon to trust in God no matter what.

And so Jesus raises the question, “Where is your treasure?” Where does your trust lie? Where is it that you seek security? Is it in wealth or is it in God?

And like the passage in Deuteronomy, Jesus goes on to insist we can’t have it both ways. We must choose. Will we seek our security in wealth — in having lots of possessions, in high-paying jobs, in holding a large bank account, in having a fat retirement fund — or will we seek our security in God’s daily provision? Are we going to trust in our own provision for ourselves, or are we going to trust in God’s provision?

The reality is, to trust in God isn’t easy. The promise we have isn’t that we will be given all we want. Nor is it that we will be given all we need for the next week, much less for the rest of our life. It is that we will be given enough for today. However, our human tendency is to want more than enough and to want to be sure about having enough for more than just today. In other words, our human tendency is to trust in wealth.

Yet trusting in wealth for our security brings with it anxiety and worry, for, as the scripture says, moth and rust and thieves DO exist and they will have their way in the world. What we have gained by our efforts, in our trying to provide security for ourselves for not just today but also for tomorrow, can just as easily be lost by the vagaries of life. Our grasping after security in wealth, ultimately leaves us feeling less secure as we worry the potential of losing our wealth in a downturn in the stock market or the actions of an identity thief. Not only that, we constantly find ourselves worrying not only about provisions for today but also for tomorrow, the next week, the next month, the next year.

How hard it is for us to trust in God for our daily bread! This is partly because, as we’ve seen, our human tendencies and our world encourage us to put our trust in ourselves and our wealth. We are encouraged to seek to make ourselves secure not just for today, but for all the tomorrows we can imagine having. Yet, such trust in ourselves and our wealth leads us away from relying on God’s generosity toward a view that there is never enough to go around, so we must grasp what we can when we can. 

And it is here that a second problem arises. This anxiety lead us away from generosity — from freely giving as we have freely received. From generously giving out of what we have. From giving with generosity out of what we have to God and toward the needs of others about us. 

In Judaism one of the most basic acts of piety was almsgiving — giving to the poor. Such generosity was described as having a “healthy eye.” Thus we see in this passage Jesus is not only teaching us to trust God to give us today what we need, but to also share out of what we have received. We are to be a generous, giving people. Just as God is a generous, giving God — giving us every good and perfect gift — so we are to share out of our abundance with those who have less. We are to share out of our abundance with those who do not have enough. We are to trust in God enough that we DARE to share, rather than hoarding up for tomorrow.

Such trust in God is the second leg of stewardship. It is the leg that opens our hearts to give freely. To share, knowing that all we really need is enough for today not enough for the rest of our lives. To share, knowing that when we grasp at security through the accumulation of wealth then we are truly poor, for we discover we don’t experience security but rather anxiety.

Thankfulness for God’s good gifts and a generosity the comes from trust in God’s provisions — those are the 2 legs of stewardship. May we experience the wonders that come with being good stewards of all God gives!