South Sydney Anglican Church

Bible Passage: Matthew 6:19-24

Big Idea:       Christians should put God’s Kingdom first in Everything

Point 1:         Christians should have a Singular Focus in Life

Matt.6:19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, 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. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and DESPISE the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Point 2:         Christians should live by Faith in Jehovah Jireh, not Money

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry (merimnaw anxious, worried; fearful) about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[c]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe youyou of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Point 3:         Christians should Prioritise God’s Kingdom on a Daily Basis

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Big Idea:       Christians should put God’s Kingdom first in Everything

Intro;              Morning friends, visitors and those online. My name is Matt Johnson and today we continue a sermon series called choose faith. Basically, we’ve seen that real faith in Jesus (as Saviour and Lord) should change our worldview, our priorities and ultimately our choices in life.

PRAYER:        Well let me refresh your memory of this sermon series thus far. (Slide 2) IN THE FIRST WEEK we saw in Hebrews 11 that Christianity is all about faith – particularly faith in Jesus, faith in God and faith in the Bible. (ENTER) But in Ephesians 6 – we saw that our Christian faith is under attack by Satan. Satan is trying to get Christians to put our faith in other things. But true Christian faith is nourished by Gods Word and prayer.

Now the fact is – many philosophies and scientific theories are now making ABSOLUTE TRUTH CLAIMS – based on very little evidence and in blatant contradiction to the Bible. So many educated Christians (especially) are beginning to put their faith in these truth claims, rather than putting their faith in Jesus, the Bible or prayer. And anyone who challenges these faulty, secular truth claims is now cancelled, ridiculed or persecuted. So Christian faith is under attack.

So in this context (ENTER) – I’ve talked about the importance of choosing Sabbath rest to strengthen our faith. (ENTER). Then in Ephesians 2 I really wanted you to see that faith expressing itself in good works usually requires courage and strong convictions. Without courage and conviction our faith often balks. (ENTER) In Matthew 25 – we saw that choosing Christian faith means choosing charity and hospitality. Last week (Matthew 10) we saw that choosing Christian faith means choosing wisdom and choosing innocence. We shouldn’t be so wise we lose our innocence, nor so desperate to prove our innocence that we stop being wise. And today the issue is money. Choosing Christian faith means prioritising Gods kingdom instead of money and material possessions which so easily fail us…

As most of you know – I was recently on holidays with some old mates. One of my mates is in property development – and he has done very well for himself. His building company turns over about $25 million dollars of work each month and end of last year he finished building a house in Canberra that cost about $5 million. Nice.

But Monday last week – when he was meant to be on holidays with us – he was in Canberra telling 187 people – they no longer had a job because his company declared bankruptcy – last week. Now all the problems stem back to Coronavirus, rising building costs and other companies failing to pay him. So before Coronavirus my mate was made of money and now he is waiting to see if he can still afford to send his kids to a private school.

And friends, this is the nature of money. It can so easily disappear, even through no fault of our own. SILICON VALLEY BANK went into liquidation this past week. $89 billion dollars disappeared. That’s some people’s life-savings – gone. This week CREDIT SUISSE BANK shares dropped nearly 30%. That means some people’s retirement is now drastically different. So today we are thinking about Christian faith and money…

Point 1:         Christians should Focus on God, not Money

Show:                        Matt.6:19-21 (READ)

Explain:         Well as you can see Jesus tells us not to store up our treasures on earth, but rather, to store up treasure in heaven. So there are TWO OPTIONS. Option A is storing up treasures on earth. Option B is storing up treasures in heaven. So if you trust Jesus and what he says – which option do you take? Option A or Option B?

Of course, its meant to be option B. But remember (we’re in a spiritual battle) and the world’s motto is ALL THE WAY WITH OPTION A. In fact, most people LEVERAGE (every aspect of their life) to the max – to store up more and more earthly treasure. Now if the world around us – is going; “all the way with option A”; guess what your natural, default position will be? (PAUSE) That’s right! We generally agree with the bumper sticker that says; “the person who dies with the most stuff wins.” BUT as Jesus points out – all the stuff in this world tends to spoil, perish and fade. So instead of looking like the Kardashians with lots of bling, we just end up looking like hoarders with lots of rubbish. (Slide 6) I wonder is this your life?

So Jesus tells us to choose FAITH. THREE TIMES Jesus asks us to make a choice between option A and option B. The first choice is riches on earth or riches in heaven. The second choice is between your eyes focussing on good stuff or bad stuff. And the third choice is between serving God OR serving money. The three stories are all kind of making the same point. If you look again at verse 21 you’ll see Jesus says; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…” A) What we treasure or B) what our eyes focus upon generally reveals what we love. So do we have A DIVIDED HEART that loves God and also loves money OR do we have an UNDIVIDED HEART – that is sold out for God?

Show:                        (Slides 6-7) Ps.86:11; Ezek.11:19; 1Cor.7:35

You may recall Jesus also says the great commandment is this; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body and soul.” Jesus doesn’t say love God with 80% of your heart or 72% or even 50%. Jesus says we should love God with all our heart. That’s undivided love.

(GOSPEL)     Now the reason Christians are meant to love God with all their heart is because 1) God made us, 2) God provides for us and 3) God sent Jesus to die for us. The. problem is we’ve all sinned and we’ve loved money and the things of creation – more than we’ve loved our Creator. So we deserve to die. The consequence of rejecting God is death and hell. But God the Father loves us so much that He sent his Son – Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. As Scripture says; “God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son (over to death; even death on a cross) so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn.3:16). When Jesus died on the cross – he took the punishment for your sin so that you can be spared. If you believe Jesus did this for you and you sincerely ask God to forgive you – you will be forgiven and you will get to go to heaven. THIS IS GOD’S GIFT to everyone who truly believes. But in response to this amazing gift – God calls you to LOVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART. You should love God with all your heart because he has forgiven you. You should love God with all your heart – because he has given you hope and a future.

But Jesus knows that all too often – God only gets part of our heart. The truth is part of heart still loves money, material possessions and stuff (or even bad stuff) – as much or even more than we love God. Now most Christians know about the danger of THE LOVE OF MONEY. The Bible says; (Slide 8 – 1Tim.6:10). The problem is I’m yet to meet a wealthy, western, evangelical Christian who admits they have a problem with the love of money. We’re happy to throw stones at prosperity gospel preachers – they obviously love money. But not me. I’m just an affluent, hard worker and good steward. But are you sure – God has 100% of your heart? If you automatically sayof course, God has all my heart”, you’re calling into question, Jesus’ very question.

Apply:            But is it not possible that Jesus actually knows you, better than you know yourself. Jesus is asking you to stop and THINK about A) what your heart loves and B) what your eyes are fixed upon. What are you doing with your TIME, ENERGY AND RESOURCES?

You see, we are making financial decisions all the time and every one of our financial decisions is also A SPIRITUAL DECISION. 1) The job you accept – will not only determine how much money you get, it will also determine how many hours you have each week to serve God. 2) The house you buy (or the number of houses you buy) will determine not only how much money goes on your mortgage, it will also determine how generous you can afford to be as a Christian. And Jesus is challenging us to stop and think carefully about what we are doing – rather than just running after all the same things as the pagans.

As I’ve shared with you before – I think THE BIGGEST PROBLEM in the western evangelical Christian church today is the love of money. The Principal of Ridley Bible college in Melbourne BRIAN ROSNER wrote a book a few years back printed by Matthias Media called; “Beyond Greed”, and in it he says (READ). I quote this book again, because I think Rosner is right. I think idolatry is rife in the modern evangelical church and no one wants to admit it.

Point 2:         Christians should live by Faith in Jehovah Jireh, not Money

Show:                        Matt.6:28-30 (READ)

Explain:         The word “THEREFORE” in verse 25 links Jesus’ teaching abut SPARROWS and FLOWERS OF THE FIELD to what Jesus has just said about money. The focus is still on money and material possessions. But the new theme in this section is “WORRY”. Jesus tells us “do not worry – about material thingsThe word worry could be translated fearful or anxious. Jesus is telling us “not to be anxious, not to fearful,” about material needs or material stuff.

So again, faith must make a choice. To worry or not to worry – that is the question. IT’S INTERESTING that while anxiety may be considered a psychological issue that needs pharmaceutical intervention, Jesus tells us it’s a choice. We’re told not to be anxious. This implies that we have some control over our anxiety and worry.

Now I’m not saying that people can easily overcome anxiety. I think my own perfectionist nature means I am prone to anxiety and sleepless nights myself. But I still believe that ANXIETY is first and foremost a spiritual issue. Deuteronomy 28 makes it clear that when we reject God (and go our own way) He gives us over to an anxious mind (Deut.28:65; Rom.1:28). That’s what the Bible says. And Jesus goes on Matthew 6:30 to explain that worry and anxiety is coming from a lack of faith. He says “O you of little faith.” This means (that to some extent) anxiety and fear needs to be addressed with repentance and faith…

Show:            (Slide 10) Now in 2014, BAYSIDE PSYCHOTHERAPY in Victoria undertook a large study of mental health in the United States and Australia. They determined 20% of Americans and 14.4% of Australians suffer from clinical anxiety. Now remember this is 2014, and if anything, anxiety disorders are getting worse – with Covid, climate change, inflation and the threat of war. So if anything these figures may now be slightly undercooked.

Apply:            But Jesus says; “Do not worry.INSTEAD, choose faith in God’s goodness and Gods providence. Now how much of our worry in the west is related to money. We all worry that we don’t have enough money. We also thinkif only I had more money – I’d have no worries. BUT THE MINUTE you start thinking money is the answer to your problems – its idolatry. Your believing money is your SAVIOUR. But money rarely fixes worry or anxiety. The more money you have the more you worry about 1) managing it, 2) losing it and whether you’ve invested it wisely. You worry about INTEREST RATES going up and interest rates going down. You worry about your bank going bankrupt. You worry about China entering a trade war with the US – simply because you have shares in BHP (who sell iron ore and coal to China) – and your BHP shares might go down. Oh no!

 These days young couples worry about whether they’ll ever have enough money for a house? Then they worry about whether they’ll ever have enough money for kids? So through contraception (a modern luxury) they put off having kids until they can afford a house AND then they have to worry about fertility issues. Worry. Worry. Worry.

Jesus’ answer to all this worry is remember God is Jehovah Jireh – our provider. JEHOVAH JIREH is one of the names for God in the Old Testemant. JIREH – simply means God provides. And Jesus is appealing to Gods’ nature – as Jehovah Jireh in this passage. God provides for sparrows. God provides for flowers. So how much more will God provide for His people who have an undivided love for Him. God promises throughout Scripture that if we trust Him and obey Him – He will look after us because we are more precious to him than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. And we know we are this precious to God because God sent Jesus to die for us. So here’s a truth to process. Most people do not really have an anxiety problem. Anxiety is simply going through roof because we have a faith problem. Our faith is in the wrong things or our faith in God is too little.

Point 3:         Christians should Prioritise God’s Kingdom on a Daily Basis

Show:                        Matt.6:33-34 (READ)

Explain:         Well this is the remedy to being weak in faith or having little faith. Stop worrying about tomorrow or the future. INSTEAD, simply seek first God’s kingdom and Gods righteousness each day. The only question worth asking – is what does God want me to do today – in terms of His Kingdom or in terms of righteousness. Then, do that in faith (and not only will you store up treasure in heaven, not only will you begin to fix your anxiety problems) you will experience Gods incredible providence.

The problem is – money and material possessions all too often GET IN THE WAY of our service of God. God tells us to be generous. But we remain tight-fisted because we worry about our future. God challenges us to be mission minded and use our money to share the gospel. But we worry – about rising interest rates, rising electricity costs and rising inflation (and so we balk) at doing the very thing the Bible tells us to do and the Holy Spirit is convicting us to do.

Apply:            So I have two applications today. FIRST, the more anxious and fearful we all become because of the problems in the world =- the more we are prone to try to protect and soothe ourselves with money and material possessions. You may have heard of RETAIL THERAPY. We have to fight this stupidity.

 SECOND, you may recall Jesus told the rich young ruler (in all three gospels) to go and sell everything he had, give it to the poor – and then he would have treasures in heaven. The question was – did the rich young ruler want treasures on earth or treasures in heaven? Of course, wealthy, evangelicals pastors in the west (with wealthy congregations) usually say – this doesn’t mean we have to sell everything we have and give it to the poor – in order to have treasures in heaven. No. All we have to do is accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. But perhaps we are intentionally missing the point. I’m pretty confident Jesus is also telling the rich young ruler he needs an undivided heart.

It’s the same thing Jesus is telling us in this passage. To really store up treasure in heaven – you need an undivided heart. You need to put God first and surrender everything (including your money). So honest question – have you really surrendered all your wealth and assets to God or not? SIMPLE QUESTION: Is it your money OR is it Gods money and will you do with it – whatever the Bible tells you and the Spirit convicts you?

A good litmus test (if you are a moderately affluent western Christian) is do you tithe your income to God’s Kingdom. In the Old Testament – the Jews set aside 10% of their income (called a tithe) and they gave it to the temple to support the work of the priests and to take care of the orphans, widows and poor. Now it is true – that nowhere in the New Testament – are Christians told to give a tithe. Christians are simply told to give to Gods kingdom generously. But if you are working and you’re on a good income – can you seriously tell me – that less than 10% is really generous. C’mon seriously. God asked the rich young ruler to give up 100%. To put God first in everything. Yet many affluent, middle-class Christians in the west – never even get to 10% across the course of their life. (Now what’s the excuse). If the Jews could exercise the faith of a 10% tithe (without ever seeing Gods love for them in the Lord Jesus Christ), how much more should Christians be able to exceed a 10% tithe. I truly want to say – that if you are a relatively affluent Christian and you do not get to 10% or better in your working life – you probably have a bigger heart problem and a bigger faith problem than you realise. I suspect you are also in danger of not hearing the words – WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. Friends, it easy to say, “I don’t love money”. But Jesus is calling us to examine our hearts, acknowledge our fears and have a bit more faith in Gods providence – because our choices often tell a different story. The fact is – this world is going to burn – and far too many Christian assets are going to simply burn with it – that could have been better utilised in sharing the gospel, or helping people in need or glorifying God – if only we had a little bit more faith.

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