THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the Life of Christ, we looked at three things from the Matthew 6. Jesus talked about doing your charitable deeds in secret, praying in secret, and fasting in secret. Of course the main point was to do these things between you and God and not for the praise of men. In this lesson we are going to look at what Jesus says about money and what our priorities should be. I am going to do things a bit different in this lesson. First, I am going to going to give you a brief commentary of what Jesus says next in Matthew 6. Second, I am going to preach a topical lesson regarding the topic of money. Letís read our verses:
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;† 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.† 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.† 22 " The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.† 23 "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!† 24 " No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Everything Jesus is saying in the verses are related to money and how we are to make God our priority. While the focus is on money or materialistic things, the principle taught could apply to anything we put between us and God.
When Jesus tells us not to lay up treasure here on earth, He is not saying that we cannot posses things or save up our money for retirement, but that we cannot make the things of this world our priority. Otherwise, they become our god. The things of this earth will not last, which is why we are to make heaven our treasure because it is an eternal reward. The more we focus on heaven while on earth, the more we are going to be about our Fatherís business.
This is what is meant by Jesus when He is talking about the eye in verse 22 and 23. If your eye is healthy, it will allow you to see things clearly and allow light to enter into your body. However, if your eye is damaged it will not let not let you see clearly and the light cannot come in. Therefore, you will be in darkness. In other words, if your focus is on heaven, which means you will be living according to what God wants,then you will clearly see the path of righteousness and will be able to follow that path in every situation. However, if you make money or some other worldly thing your priority, then you have become blind to the truth and the only path you can see the wide road that lead to destruction and your life is full of darkness because you seek worldly things instead of God.
When Jesus says you cannot serve two masters, He is not saying that we cannot serve others at all, but that our priority must always be putting God as our head master. If we make someone or some thing equal to God or more important than God, then we are going to have a conflict of interest and we are going to have to disobey someone, which is why will end up loving one and hating another. The whole point is to put God first no matter what, because no one or thing is more important than God Almighty. Now letís get to the topical part of our lesson.
A common temptation that people have is the desire to be rich. There is something about the thought of having a great deal of money that will drive some people to do things they never thought they would do. All kinds of evil things can happen when someone is in pursuit of riches. Some have been known to kill someone all for money.† As Paul wrote:
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.† 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Judas is a great example of this because he was a thief, and his desire was money. He was willing to sell out the Lord for 30 silver pieces. No wonder Jesus said:
Mark 14:21 Ö woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born."
Since we live in a materialistic world, we have to be careful because it's easy for us to get caught up† in the hype that we have to have the latest gadgets or newest car or the newest house or best clothes. Now there is nothing wrong with having some of these things as long as we are not making riches or material things are number one pursuit. As Jesus said:
Matthew 6:24 " No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
When money becomes our master, we will allow it to consume us, and we will neglect our families, friends, and worst of all, we will neglect God. Do you find yourself always wanting more and more things? If you answered yes, then you are making money one of your gods. As Jesus said you cannot serve God and money.
As Christians we should have different view about money and where are treasures lie. As Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19" Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;† 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.† 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We must never allow anything including money to come between us and God because nothing on this earth is worth losing our souls over. As Jesus said:
Matthew 16:26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?†
While having money is not a sin within itself, it has a way of changing people and making them forget what their priorities are. This can be seen with the rich young ruler:
Matthew 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing
shall I do that I may have eternal life?"†
17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is
good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep
the commandments."† 18 He
said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,'
'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear
false witness,'† 19 'Honor
your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.' "† 20 The
young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What
do I still lack?"† 21
Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and
give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow
Me."† 22 But when the
young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great
possessions.† 23 Then Jesus
said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of heaven.† 24
"And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of
a needle than for a rich man to enter the
This young ruler's love for his money caused him not to follow after Jesus because his love for his money and possession was greater than his love for God. Now let me give you a test. I want you to think about the first answer that comes to your mind because it will help you to put things into perspective. If someone offered you a million dollars to not pray, read your Bible, go to church, or do anything related to God for 30 days would you do it?
Was your first though no, maybe, or absolutely. I am afraid that many Christians would hesitate on such an offer because a million dollars is a lot of money. And they might think it worth the risk to remove themselves from God for just 30 days to have that large sum of money. If your answer was yes or maybe, then you need to realize that you are allowing the temptation of riches to come between you and God.
Daniel is a good example for us to follow because he had to choose between following God and staying connected with Him for 30 days or face a death sentence. In Daniel 6, king Darius had made Daniel one of three governors over the land, and he was considering putting Daniel in charge of it all. Since Daniel was a foreigner in their land the people did not like this idea so they came up with an evil scheme to take him out.
Daniel 6:4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.† 5 Then these men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God."† 6 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: "King Darius, live forever!† 7 "All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.† 8 "Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter."† 9 Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.†
The people had their trap set for Daniel, now all they had to do was wait to see if he would take the bait and remain faithful to God.
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his
upper room, with his windows open toward
I asked the question ealier if you would separate yourself from God for a million dollars, but Daniel had a much more difficult situation to deal with because his life was on the line, but he did not care. As his custom was, he prayed to God three times a day and wasnít about to even let death much less money keep him separated from God. We should have this same attitude as well. As Paul said:
1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.† 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.† 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.
We must never forget that heaven is our goal and no matter how much junk we collect, we cannot take it with us. If we are not careful our money can give us a false hope that will lead us down a path of sin, which is why Paul wrote:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.† 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,† 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Proverbs 23:4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!† 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
Paul understood that when people get rich and put their trust in their riches that it can deceive them and even make them feel like they are better than everyone else. The writer of Proverbs gives some good sound advice about not overworking to be rich. I have known some people that worked 3 or 4 jobs just so they could buy the things they want, but I do not know how they ever had time to enjoy them because they were always working.
Again, there is nothing wrong with being rich as long as you have the right attitude and† use your money you have been blessed with to help others and the kingdom of God to grow. When you use your riches as a tool for God, then you are storing up a good foundation for your eternal life.
I have always liked the attitude that Agur had as expressed in:
Proverbs 30:7 Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die):† 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to me;† 9 Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.
This of course would be the ideal situation for us all, but no matter what our situation may be if we put God first our situation will not mater as Paul said:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:† 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.† 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Now that we have taken a general look at what the Bible teaches about positive and negative aspects of money. Letís look at some things that money cannot buy.
Money cannot buy a good character or a good reputation.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment,
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.† 2 The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.
†A person's character is defined by who they are and what is in their heart, not by what is in their wallet. There have been those who have had more riches than what all of us combined have, yet their character is no good because they are spoiled and have an haughty attitude. So no amount of money can make you have a good character or a good reputation because that must come from within. The best way to develop a good character and a good reputation is to live your life according to the word of God. As Peter wrote:
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;† 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
When we train ourselves with the Word of God and allow it to be our guide, we will have a character and reputation that will please God and that others in the world will respect. Even if the world doesnít respect us, we can know that we are pleasing to God. †
Another thing money cannot buy is true friends.
Proverbs 19:4 Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend.
The idea behind this is when you have wealth you will have many people that will hang around because you are rich, but they friendship only runs as deep as your wealth. If you become poor then those friends will disappear because they were only interested in your wealth. However, a true friend will stay next to your side whether you are rich or poor because they are friends with you and not your money or lack of money.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times
A great example of this comes from the friendship that David had with Jonathan.
1 Samuel 19:1 Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted greatly in David.† 2 So Jonathan told David, saying, "My father Saul seeks to kill you. Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide.† 3 "And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you. Then what I observe, I will tell you."† 4 Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, "Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you.† 5 "For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?"† 6 So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, "As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed."
Saul was very jealous of David and wanted to put him to death, but his own son had developed a deep friendship with David and he did everything he could to protect his friend from his own father. In the verses we just read, he stood against father and convinced him that he should stop trying to kill David because David had done nothing wrong to deserve death.
This is what a true friend will do. They are willing to stand up for you and be there for you, not because you're rich, poor, famous, or unknown, they do it because of who you are.† So, money cannot buy a friendship. Instead, friendship is something that develops between two people who share with each other and add to their friendship.
Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
As the MasterCard commercial says, some things are priceless, and friends fall into that category.†
Another thing money cannot buy is true happiness. Many have the false idea that if they had lots of money that they would be happy, but that simply is not true. The prodigal son thought this way.
Luke 15:11 Then He said: "A certain man had two sons.† 12 "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood.† 13 "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.† 14 "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.† 15 "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.† 16 "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.† 17 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!† 18 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,† 19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." '
The prodigal son thought he could find true happiness if he received his fortune early. While he had a good time for a season, he quickly found out that he had only been experiencing temporary pleasure instead of true happiness. When his money ran out so did the temporary pleasure.
Once he hit rock bottom, and he began to remember where he had experienced true happiness and that was being in his fatherís house. Of course, the parable teaches us that true happiness comes from being under the protection and care of God. We cannot buy this kind of happiness because it is not for sale, but you can have it by accepting Godís grace with an obedient faith.
We must understand that true happiness cannot be found in material things or money as:
Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.† 11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes?
Solomon is a great example of this because he had all the riches a person could desire, but he did not find satisfaction in things because there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon knew what was important as he writes at the end of his book, he says:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.† 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
True happiness can only come from becoming a Christian because it's only then that we are blessed by God. When we have the blessing of God, which includes the promise of eternal life in heaven, then we cannot help but experience true happiness.
Psalm 146:5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
There are many things that money cannot buy, but I want to look at one last point. Another thing you cannot purchase is immortality.† Many will be willing to give all they had to live a little longer, but money cannot buy that because when it is your time to go, it's your time to go. Granted, some may extend their lives for a few years if they have enough money to pay for an organ transplant, but in the end everyone one of us will die, and no amount of money will change that. As I said earlier, we cannot take it with us.
Jesus illustrates this point with the parable of farmer:
Luke 12:15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."† 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.† 17 "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?'† 18 "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.† 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." '† 20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'† 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
As Jesus has clearly pointed out, money cannot buy immortality and we cannot take our money with us when we die. So, if we do not want to suffer the fate of this farmer, we must not make money our treasure. Instead, we should make heaven our treasure because when we pass from this earth, the last thing we should want it to be forever separated from God as the rich man was in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man had his fun while he was on the earth, but now he is in that horrible place of torment where he will remain until the day of judgment. The rich manís condition will not improve because he will be cast into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels where he will spend the rest of eternity, but Lazarus, who was poor, was taken to paradise. On the day of judgment, he will find himself in heaven because he understood that money will not buy you immortality in heaven.
Instead, immortality is given to us by God, but you have to decide where are you going to spend eternity in heaven or in hell. The decision is in your hands, and I hope that none of us will ever let money or anything else to prevent us from going to heaven. May we all take heed to Jesusís words and lay up our treasures in heaven.