[This sermon is one of a series entitled “Sermon on the Mount, Concentrating on the Beatitudes,” which is being preached on Sunday mornings by Pastor Tim Senter.]
Last week we discussed fasting. Once again, this was not an all-encompassing study. However, we covered the essential pieces that our Savior required we cover in His sermon. Of primary consideration is that fasting is a very personal act of devotion between you and God. It should be relaxed and be a part of a developing, confidential and deep relationship with God. In this way, it grows a more direct connection with God. Fasting can develop into a more profound faith in God. This develops only because of the thorough, continued and involved communication and awareness of Him in one’s life. Fasting is a wonderful and gracious way to show your love for God.
We find the Beatitudes active in fasting when the saint hungers and thirsts after righteousness. This individual desires not only the food of this Earth, but also the food for the soul that is God’s word and a living, growing and vibrant personal relationship with Him. We find the pure in heart in the one who fasts because they are involved in developing purity; they gain a more pure relationship with God through this intimate worship. We find the meek as they place themselves completely subordinate to God, even (and especially) in times of physical distress, whether severe or mild. This meek person submits their basic desires for sustenance into the care of God. This is the poor in spirit who knows their true position before an all-powerful God. They know His power to forgive weakness and provide for the body.
When we consider the overall context with respect to our next subject (treasures), we find it must be and is associated to that which was before. Although the subject is not directly connected, as in a continuing discussion of fasting; nevertheless it is conceptually connected, as in a way to show worship. Like prayer, loving our neighbor, being forthright in our speaking and all the subjects Jesus discusses back to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, these are marks of the Kingdom saint who is devoted to God and seeks the things of God in their life.
We need to broaden our perspective a little. This is what Jesus will do here. We will contend that the treasures we lay up in Heaven are contained in the Beatitudes themselves as promises from those Spirit-directed and God-dedicated attributes. Therefore, treasures in Heaven include: inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 5:3), being comforted (Mt 5:4: Lk 16:23b), inheriting the Earth ( Mt 5:5; Rev 21:1-4), being satisfied (Mt 5:6; Jn 4:14), receiving mercy (Mt 5:7; Prov 11:17), seeing God (Mt 5:8; Ps 24:3-4) and ultimately being named among the sons of God (Mt 5:9; Rom 8:14). The treasures we lay up then are not material. They are related to our future spiritual existence. They are treasures we will enjoy in Heaven.
We begin looking at treasures in Matthew 6:19. There are some interesting things about these verses. I like the way Custer has translated our verses in his commentary.
“19 Stop treasuring up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust ruin, and where thieves dig through and steal. 20 but keep treasuring up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust ruins, and where thieves do not dig through and steal: 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also.”[i]
There are quite literally two opposing philosophies at work in the verses we will study today. First, we will illustrate the negative or worldly. Gaining worldly valuables is like digging a hole. We often do this. As we dig our hole, we stand in it. We can become oblivious to the sides getting higher and higher as we set ourselves to our work. As we dig, we find it more and more difficult to get the dirt out of the hole because we have to throw it harder and harder to get it out over the edge. This results from two forces, the piles are growing outside, and the hole is getting deeper. Many times the dirt just falls right back in. How does this compare to treasures on Earth? When we build earthly riches and work tirelessly on them, as they grow it becomes harder and harder to surpass the old treasures with newer and greater, more sensational things. Consider the extreme world of sports for example. From base-jumping to bungee jumping, to rock climbing, it becomes an obsession to get more daring to feed a higher thrill level or get a greater adrenalin rush. These are all earthly rewards. These increased risks of life are just like having to dig the hole deeper. When one realizes they can dig deeper and to do this, they need to dig right in the middle of their current hole. As they dig in the middle to get deeper, the edges get closer and closer to the person. The hole gets smaller and eventually you bury yourself, in essence, because you can neither climb out, nor move. This person who foolishly exercises their passions needs help.
The second is a more positive illustration. Instead of moving down in your progress, you move up. The second then is building a pile or tower. This too involves growing something of a mound in layers. Rather like many depictions of the tower of Babel. This involves building layers in an attempt, not to get to God but to enjoy with God. The heavenly treasures one builds therefore are stored with God on His heavenly plane. As we seek Him and His glory, we work to do so here on this Earth. As He chooses to reward us, we begin piling up treasures in Heaven. Our treasure pile, thinking purely on a material plane for reference, grows upward. This treasure pile must have a base. There has to be a solid beginning upon which many treasures can build. Equally, as one moves up from the levels, they should find treasure not in volume, but of greater value. The top of the pile should contain the treasures one most readily can access for repeated enjoyment. These are the most treasured, well…treasures. This means some treasures (being comforted, being satisfied, receiving mercy) can move at points in time in order to stay upon the top of the pile. In our negative example, we find no such thing. The dirt (or thrills) that one experiences at one level are ejected from the present place of digging. These experiences are no longer accessible. You have memories, but you will never relive the same thrill (worldly treasure). Every shovel full of dirt buries the next. One must keep digging for new experiences.
Equally, our Heavenly treasures are exposed but not corruptible. The treasures are accessible for the purpose of remembrance and rejoicing as well as enjoyment in their continued experience. We receive anew our treasures of mercy, presence in the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort and so on. These valuables, take on a different view or connotation at times, they take on different forms and happen in our lives at different times, but they are the promised treasures we accumulate.
We could continue with this illustration, but I believe you understand the picture I am attempting to paint. There are good treasures and bad treasures. God wants us to build upon these good treasures. In order to build upon them, we should equally be able to relive them.
When we seek God and search for Him in all things, we will find Him. As we find Him more and more, we see those things that are important to Him as our needs in life. As we collect the things of God in our life, we store things of purity, grace and love that can be located with Him in Heaven. Unfortunately, when we think of treasures, we think gold, silver or credibility; we think of the things in our world. Continue reading