Welcome to part four of the 3rd course of Red Bricks.
Read Matthew 6:19-24
As we continue to work our way through Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, we come to another section of Kingdom Thinking. Here, Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) wants to turn on its head, your understanding of what is important in the world.
Hebrew culture at the time was heavily influenced by contemporary materialism. Divine favour was measured by what and how much of it that you had. But Yeshua came to dispel that myth by explaining that when you place more importance on the things of the world than spiritual matters, it will all come to nothing.
He starts this teaching by telling people not to store up treasures on earth. Let us be clear about this teaching. If you read or hear it as a follower of His, then it is a command. If you are not yet one of His disciples, then it is good advice. As His followers, we are commanded not to store treasures here on earth, but instead, we should focus on the kind of treasures that we can store in heaven. So, what does this mean in practice?
Yeshua is telling us all that the things that the world views as worth keeping, such as money and material items, are all temporary and will not bring any satisfaction. If they are the things that motivate you, Yeshua is challenging you to think again; to not chase after the things that the flesh tells us are important, such as nice cars or designer clothes but, instead, to think about the things that have lasting qualities; the things which are valued in heaven.
The temporary things of this world, which may appear to bring satisfaction, are all ultimately empty and subject to both theft and decay. None of it is lasting, and none can be taken to heaven, no matter what you might think.
Yeshua encourages us all to look to the things that can’t be destroyed or stolen. The hidden treasures of the Kingdom of God are like fruits that grow in our lives when we follow Yeshua. They are found in qualities such as patience, and kindness, and generosity. Putting others before the needs of ourselves, buys us a treasure that we cannot see, but one that God will reward us for when we come face to face with Him.
The next paragraph may seem out of place in a section of text that deals with the things that people treasure, but it is only our lack of understanding of Hebrew culture that conceals Yeshua’s true meaning.
In Hebrew culture, both then and now, when you say that a person has a good eye, it means that they are generous. When you say that a person has an evil or a bad eye, it means that they are stingy. Yeshua was making a clear reference to this when he said that if your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. Think of this in spiritual terms. He was saying that if you are generous and practice kindness then everything about you will be full of light; everything you do will be seen as light to a dark world.
But He also warns us that if we are ungenerous and mean, that too will be seen by others. Only this time, it will be seen as darkness.
To practice generosity is not all about money. It is to be kind to people, to tell them that they matter; to make people feel loved and wanted; and not to turn your back upon anyone who needs help. This continues Yeshua’s earlier theme of being light to the world. And, in talking about it here in this text, He is telling us that the practice of generosity is one way of us storing treasures in heaven.
His warning in His conclusion on this teaching is that we must decide, one way or another, whom we will serve. We can serve ourselves according to the pattern of this world, or we can serve the Kingdom Of God, and live our lives according to His Spirit. Yeshua is clear: you cannot have a foot in both camps; you cannot serve both God and money.
Choose today whom you will serve. Choose treasure in heaven over pleasure on earth.