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WHAT PROFIT IS THERE IN MATERIALISM?
Good morning. I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 6. Today we are going to be looking at verses 19-24.
I mentioned last time that this chapter can be divided in two. The first 18 verses deal with one’s sacred life. It dealt with practicing one’s righteousness before men. Today we are entering the second half of the chapter. It is the section that deals with what you might call our secular life. We are going to be talking about our worldly possessions; our money, our clothing, and our provisions of food.
Of course, we are keeping the same theme. In chapter 4 Matthew told us that Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God. And we have found that this sermon describes for us kingdom people and kingdom life. Those who are a part of God’s kingdom need to have a righteousness that exceeds that of the pharisees and Scribes.
And today we are going to begin to see how that righteousness pertains to our worldly goods.
So let’s give our attention to God’s holy and inspired word. Matthew 6:19-24.
“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 eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
We come to a portion of the Sermon on the Mount that deserves our special attention. You might say that this is a message for our time. Maybe even all of Chapter 6, as it deals with fame and fortune.
Over the last couple of week’s we’ve talked about how people love to be noticed. For so many people life is a popularity game. It’s about how much attention they can get from the people around them. And the thing that they most desire in life is some degree of fame, even if it be over religious things.
Today’s passage addresses another kind of person. It’s the person who wants things. You know we live in a materialistic age. And we Americans love our possessions and acquisitions.
It’s true that we can all be people who yearns for attention, but I’d probably say that in our day there are more people who yearn for possessions. It’s the desire for stuff. It may not matter how many things we have hanging in our closet, we still wants more things. It’s not necessarily enough that we have a car or a computer; we’ve got to have another car or a specific kind of computer.
That’s what Jesus is dealing with here. The last two weeks we’ve talked about the love of fame, but now we are talking about the love of fortunes.
Of course, the two things may be interrelated. It doesn’t have to be an either/or. A lot of times the two go hand in hand. You get admired because you have the big house. You got to have the big wage to get the bigger car, so that the guy next door will drool over how great you are. Some people are trying to keep up with the Joneses, others’ are trying to have the Joneses drool all over them.
Whether or not it is one or a combination of both, you no doubt understand how important this topic is. When it comes to our material possessions, its good for us to understand how kingdom minded people should think about these things. For we know how we can become a little overly infatuated with them.
But oftentimes we get a little carried away. Our life pursuit becomes tied to those things. So we think we have to have the latest phone, another toy, or that a blow out vacation.
This is where we need to recognize that the Lord must always take precedence over our material possessions. The Lord should be first. He should be what we pursue in life; our pursuit should not be the things of this world.
They should never compete with God. They should never rival our infatuation with the Lord.
And this is where our passage is so great. Its driving home that first commandment and reminding us why the Lord must be first and foremost in our life.
As a matter of fact, Jesus gives us three reasons why we need to reject the spirit of materialism. The things of this world should not supersede our infatuation with the Lord because they are not eternal, they are not satisfying in any ultimate sense, and they are not compatible with our faith in God.
Now, as we talk about our possessions and the things of this world, let’s remember that we are not saying these are bad in and of themselves. This is not to say you should have no concern whatsoever about the things of this world.
You obviously need to have a solid income. You need to provide a house for your family. You need to make sure you are trying to build wealth. You can have money to share with those in need, you need to think about your retirement. You need to try and provide an inheritance to pass on to your children. Those are really important things. Things that the Bible commands us to do.
What we need to reject is the love of these things. It’s the indulgent infatuation to have, to get, and to obtain. And you understand that that’s not just a rich person’s problem. The spirit of greed and gain can live in each and every one of us.
If you look at verses 19f, you see that Jesus shows us why this is such a silly mindset. We need to keep God first because the things of this world are not eternal.
I. Because the worlds goods are not eternal [19-20]
He says, “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.
You see that Jesus sums this up pretty well. He wants us to understand that the things of this world are not guaranteed. They can be lost quite easily.
You know all those pretty little sweaters you bought? Imagine hauling them out and finding out that the little larvae had been planted there and gobbled a couple nice sized holes in them. Or you got that sweet new bike and you can’t wait to get out and ride it. But when you get to the garage, you find out that someone had snuck in and swiped it. It’s gone.
The point is clear. There is nothing in this world that is all that secure. Everything can be taken from you, whether it be by a natural phenomena (such as a bug, rust) or by force (where someone comes in and confiscates it).
Now, to be sure, many of our things are probably more secure today than they were in Jesus’ day. After all, today we have mothballs. We have locks on our doors and maybe even some high end equipment that serves as a security system. So our stuff may be thought to be a little more locked down.
Believe you me that we are not that much more safe. There’s a sense in which much of our lives is so completely precarious. How much of our wealth could be deleted with just one wrong click of button? So much of our life is digital, now a days. We live daily by faith that our money is going to be there in the bank. But let’s remember, it could vanish into thin air.
And what is a security system to a fire or natural disaster? We would hope that Nationwide is on our side, and our insurance would cover everything. But you know how easily the rug might be pulled out from under you. You could meet with significant losses quite easily.
All that’s to say, that nothing is guaranteed. At least nothing in this world. These things can be easily lost. All that we treasure; all that we’ve worked and lived for can be be whisked away in no time flat.
But if your treasure is in heaven, you’ll be much better off. If your treasure is in heaven, then you will find that you’ve invested in something that cannot ever spoil or be stolen. Nothing can take it away because it is guaranteed by something greater than the FDIC. It’s guaranteed by the infinite God.
That’s the investment that we ought to be making. Rather than trying to invest ourselves in gaining as much as we can here in this world, we need to be investing in how we can serve the Lord. What kinds of things can we do that will build God’s kingdom? What kindness can we show? What needs can we meet? What people can we help? What good can we do? Those are the kinds of investments that will create assets that are enduring.
Billy Graham once told the story about a grandfather who was talking with his grandson. He was getting on in years and knew that his time would soon come. And he said to the boy, “I don’t know what kind of work I’ll be doing in heaven, but I am going to ask the Lord if I can build your mansion. So you better make sure you are sending up good materials.”
That was his way of challenging his grandson. Instead of living for this world and trying to gain for himself all the pleasures of this life, his grandfather wanted him to live a life which would have eternal value.
There’s the contrast though. You need to think about what is temporary and what is lasting. As you plan for life, keep the Lord at the center and live for him because everything in this world cannot be guarantee for tomorrow. You can easily find yourself frustrated because much of what we gain can easily be lost. And it would be foolish to invest so much in these things or have your life revolve around them
But that they can be lost is just the beginning of your frustration. Take a look at the next part of the passage. In verses 22-23 Jesus gives us another reason to keep the Lord first in our lives. He says that just as the world’s goods are not eternal, neither are they satisfying.
II. Because the worlds goods are not satisfying [22-23]
I will admit that what Jesus says in verses 22-23 may be a little difficult to follow. The metaphor that Jesus uses may not be all that easy to grasp. Personally, I never understood it until I had time to dig into it this week.
He begins by talking about the eye and how you need to focus on something. That’s what it means when it says that the eye is the lamp of the body. Think of a flashlight. You shine the flashlight forward so that you can focus in on where you are going. Your eye is able to focus on the pathway ahead of you because of that light.
Then he goes on to make a comparison between a good, healthy eye and one that is diseased. Now, if you have a good eye, it’s easy to focus on where you are going. And when you do that, you are able to get around pretty good. You can see and life is good. Your whole body is full of light in that you are cheerful and able to accomplish what you want.
But if there’s something wrong with your eye, it is hard to see. You may have double vision, or things may be blurry or dark. So you won’t be able to see where you are going. What’s going to happen is you are going to trip and fall. You’re going to stumble around and get very angry. The darkness, in this case, is a symbol of confusion, pain, and a gloomy spirit.
One of the guys I work out with has lost some vision in one of his eyes. When I first met him I introduced myself and I went to shake hands and he just stood there looking at me. He didn’t grab my hand and return the handshake. After an awkward moment, he figured out what was going on and he explained that he didn’t have that lower peripheral vision. He said everything is grey and dark past a certain point.
And there was one time where we had been exercising in one place and we had to go run a lap around the track. But there were several obstacles that were in the way. There were some cinder blocks laying out. Well, this guy ended up tripping over one of those cinder blocks. He completely wiped out because he couldn’t see and he was in quite a bit of pain after that.
That’s the kind of point that Jesus is making here. Jesus is using that as an illustration to distinguish between what makes one joyful and what makes one miserable.
What is Jesus trying to say? He’s saying that when you are focused on living for the Lord (so that he’s your treasure and you treasure what he cares about in this world), then things will be, for the most part, bright and cheery for you. You might not have a lot of things. You might not be able to keep up with the Joneses, but it really won’t matter. You will still have a great deal of joy and peace in life. In other words, your sense of satisfaction will be quite high and you won’t be bummed out over a lot of stuff.
On the other hand, if you are living for this world and your eyes are set on gaining more of it, then you won’t be overly satisfied with how life goes. You’re going to find that life’s a real bummer.
Recently I came across this article entitled, “7 Reasons Why Materialistic People Are Not As Fulfilled .”[ https://www.lifehack.org/287449/7-reasons-why-materialistic-people-are-not-fulfilled-imagined] Let me highlight a couple things they point out.
1.People who are materialistically inclined typically have anxiety issues. They worry about what they have and how they will get it and what it will be like in the future. That fits with what we just said a second ago about how things are not eternal. If they can be lost, then you have to spend a lot of time thinking about how you can secure them.
2.They have addictive problems. Those who are addicts are always looking for the next hit, right? They needs the next high. The buzz doesn’t last very long. So they are always trying to get the next hit. This article says similar things happen to people who are addicted to things. It’s not long until the new phone comes out. The one you bought last year doesn’t have the same stimulus that it did. It’s “old,” and you feel like you need the upgrade.
3.They are more likely to be depressed. They think that they will be happy if they get the new counters and kitchen makeover, but surprise, surprise, they only become more glum. This article points out that billionaires tend to have higher rates of depression.
4.They are more likely to get divorced or have break ups in their relationships. That’s obvious. They value the stuff over the relationship.
The list goes on, but there you see that life can be pretty miserable for the materialist. The things of this world do not provide the salvation that they are looking for. The heart’s longings cannot be satisfied with anything in this world.
This is where we must understand that Christ alone is the answer. What we need is not a possession, but a person. When we make him the pursuit of our lives there’s so much more satisfaction to be had.
And it all boils down to where your heart is. Where is your eye focused? Are you focused on the Lord and serving him? Or are you infatuated with the here and now?
So far we’ve seen that material things are not eternal or satisfying. And Jesus also wants us to know that they are not compatible either. They are not compatible with a true relationship with the Lord.
III. Because the worlds goods are not compatible 
Look at verse 24. Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
It is really that simple. It’s either one or the other. You cannot hold both together as a way of life. It is as incompatible as trying to have a slave who works full time for two different masters. You can’t split time like that. You will end up favoring one and spending more time serving him and less time with the other.
That’s what Jesus says about the one who wants to be in love with this world. You cannot pursue it and also think that you can faithfully serve the Lord. Your heart cannot be split in its affections. It will gravitate to one or the other.
A lot of people will still try though. They will claim to love the Lord, while all the time they are chasing their worldly pursuits. But when you look at the details, you see how they don’t really love the Lord.
Think about it this way: When you have the Lord as your master, you will heed his call to sanctify the Lord’s Day and give this one day out of seven to him. He allows you 6 days to work, but on this day he calls you to clear your schedule and cease from laboring or making others labor.
We talked about giving the last two weeks. God not only claims the Sabbath day, but he then goes on to say, “I claim for myself 10% of your income. And not only that, but I have the right at any time to set other needs before you which you should do your best to fill.”
Then he further demands that you invest in your family. He says that you should love your wife and children and seek to train them diligently in the faith. He says that you need to value the truth and make sure that all that your dealings with the people around your are based on honesty. God, as your master, makes many other such demands.
And you have to evaluate whether or not you are in submission to that master. Because there is another master that makes various demands upon you. This master says, “It doesn't matter how much you work or when you work. Just as long as you are making more money. And you can go shopping and buy whatever you want whenever you want. It doesn’t matter.”
He also makes claims upon your checkbook. He says, “You don’t need to give that much to the church. You don’t have that much to give to the church, let alone going above and beyond that to help other people. After all, you have to pay for this house. You have the lease payments, and don’t forget the credit card payments are coming due for the presents you bought for Christmas. Now is not the time to be thinking about giving.
We could go on and on through the list. The god of money and the god of things have rules for your family and what you teach them. He makes different demands on how much of the truth you share and when and where it is right and proper to cheat and steal.
You see, the two are very much incompatible. You cannot serve both because each one has very different demands that have to be met. It is as Jesus says, you will either love the one and hate the other or you will despise the one and be devoted to the other. There is no way to walk the line and coddle both.
So this is where you must decide who will be your master. This is where you must think about who will be your Savior.
I hope that you will see the point that Jesus is making. It is utterly foolish to be a full time consumer.
The call to you today is to evaluate what has the highest priority in your life. What is it that you are pursuing? Of course, if you are living for Christ, you don’t have to take a vow of poverty. You can indeed get along quite well and be wealthy. However, what you do with your wealth will show the fact that you have a yearning for another world. You have a desire to invest in eternity and not in this present world.
But it isn’t even about how many things you have accumulated or how big your income really is. It is much deeper than that. We should not be blind to the fact that Jesus is not talking about what may or may not be in our hand. He’s talking about what may or may not be in our hearts.
This is where the real inventory should be taken. What is it that drives us? What is it that we truly love? That is the question that must be answered.
To be sure, if you want something that is satisfying--if you want something that is eternal, then you must look beyond what can be put in your closet. That which you truly need and that which you should ultimately long for cannot even be contained in heaven itself.