The Sermon on the Mount: Day 19

God and Possessions

by

Today's Text: Matthew 6:19-24, Proverbs 28:22, Luke 12:13-21, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:19-24, Proverbs 28:22, Luke 12:13-21, Ephesians 5:5, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Look around you and consider this: it will all make a good bonfire some day.

Somewhere along the line, that little catchphrase got filed in my heart. I find it equal parts jarring and comforting. Jarring because so much of what I’ve spent my life building is destined to pass away. Comforting because I have assurance that the laundry that needs folding and the bills that need to be paid and the floors that need mopping won’t be going with me into eternity. (Amen!)

Jesus is not anti-treasure. He’s the one who buried diamonds in the caves of Africa and gold in the mountains of Colorado. He also buried a craving for treasure deep inside our hearts. He wants us to be treasure hunters. But the kind of treasure we’re hunting matters. Here, Jesus helps us see that all that shines and glitters must be lumped into one of two categories. Only two. There is no third option.

Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).

Category number one is perishable treasure. Anything you’ve ever bought or built with your own two hands is perishable. Your home, your car, your 401K? Perishable, perishable, perishable. Your wardrobe, your appearance, your accolades and attagirls? Those are all perishable too. So much of our lives is destined to make a good bonfire some day. As we picture the ashes, we are tempted to wonder, What’s left?

Answer: the imperishable.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal” (v. 20).

What are these heavenly treasures? God’s Word points us to three things that will last forever: the Word of God (Isaiah 40:8), the people of God (John 3:16), and the kingdom of God (Psalm 45:6). Every penny, every second we invest in these things is untouchable, locked away in a heavenly vault. It cannot rot or rust. It cannot be stolen. It can never be taken away.

Jesus spoke about money and possessions often, but He never branded them as evil, just perishable. As we keep listening to the Sermon on the Mount we see the real reason we need these frequent reminders.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21).

You see, it’s not the treasure Christ is concerned about; it’s our hearts. He knows that worshiping our possessions will destroy us (v. 24). Our hearts will begin to rot long before our belongings do. He warns us to “take care and be on [our] guard against all covetousness” (Luke 12:15), not because He is worried we might amass too much treasure. We can’t begin to acquire enough riches to match His. He simply knows the moment is coming when our possessions will go up in smoke. We can buy insurance for our stuff, but Jesus is offering us insurance for our hearts.

Go ahead and buy the new dress you found on sale. Pick out new granite countertops. Keep folding that endless pile of laundry, but know that a day is coming when God will stack all of our belongings together for kindling and strike a match (2 Peter 3:10). As we watch our earthly treasure turn to ashes, may we celebrate our investment in the riches that can never be taken from us.

SRT-SOTM-Instagram-19

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • Kristen Clegs

    Jesus keeps bringing it back to the heart; that’s always the issue. He is so tender and personal as He exhorts us: “lay up treasure in Heaven; set your heart on things above (Col. 3).”
    In essence He’s saying, “I want to capture your heart! I want your motive to be ME! I want your goal to be ME! I want you to treasure ME!”
    But the order in verse 21 implies that “emotions follow motions,” not the other way around. So this is both a promise and a warning – our heart, our treasure, will be lodged in the things we invest our money in, the pursuits we put our time into, the daydreams that fill our free time, the things we need to be happy. Laying up treasure must be intentional, not based on how we feel at the moment, motivated by our knowledge of God’s character. And our heart will follow after, the hard work of investment multiplying our love.

  • Adrienne

    I usually don’t feel inclined to share- but this morning I do. It’s only right to remember that ALL things will be made new, that ALL of creation will be restored and made right. That God is in not in the business of blowing up or burning up the world- but in the business of bringing in the new heavens and the new Earth. What we do here certainly matters, what we create here, matters. What we design, labor over, sew, construct, engineer, write, it matters to the heart of God. I just wanted to put this encouragement out there for those of us that take heart in the fact that God made the Earth- stepped back and called it GOOD. I don’t know if I can get behind the match and bonfire detail- but I’ll certainly take hope in Christ making all things new and good. As always, thanks for sharing SRT x

  • Oh my heart is exploding reading this, so many questions and revelations! Beautifully written Erin, thank you so much.

  • AimeeJoy

    “He’s the one who buried diamonds in the caves of Africa and gold in the mountains of Colorado”. I love that you pointed this out, Erin! We are treasure hunters, but the real treasure is relational, not material. Love it.

  • Karen From Virginia

    I know I’m reading this late but I still want to comment because these verses on storing up treasures in heaven have been life verses to me.
    As a young adult I made choices that left me fairly poor or tight on the budget to be flexible to walk by faith and have time to do what Jesus wanted. Ever since, I’ve focused on storing treasures through giving, but also giving time, going without, learning to love, serving. I learned to live by faith that when I honor God is the big or simple ways, I’m storing treasures in heaven.
    Because in the end this will all burn. Thank God this isn’t our home!

  • The verses in Timothy talk about our God, “who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.” God does not condemn us for having “things.” He merely instructs us on how to use them…” to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share…”a few months ago we bought a sign for our dining room that reads, “When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.” This has become the heartbeat of our home! To bring people to our home and extend our table beyond our normal reach, to share what God has blessed us with, and to use our gifts of hospitality to serve Him and bless others. Having possessions is not a sin, but hoarding them is! Share, reach out, extend that invitation and break out the good china that is only used for display! You won’t regret the blessings that come from having a bigger table.

  • I have a favorite book. “”Tis a Gift to be Simple” by Barbara and David Sorensen. Have read several times and given as gifts a few times.

  • Melissa Canales

    This was so beautiful. In a world where being materialistic is the norm and putting objects and things and people before God is what’s encouraged it’s so important that we root ourselves to the truth: Jesus is the only thing that’s eternal. Our relationship with Jesus is the only thing that will matter; it is the only thing that matters. Thank you for spreading this message of simplicity. After reading and seeing so many inspiring individuals working together to glorify God and expand the body of Christ I became inspired to do the same and started a blog. It would mean the world to have your guys’ support and feedback: https://www.continuethelegacyoflove.com/devotionals lots of love, melissa.

  • I often wish I had a lot of money so I could do good in the world. Make changes where I see the need. Help those who suffer so I think God why don’t you put me in the position to do so? Again my will not His. I know He has a purpose for me and that is the answer. I have just left my job due to health issues and learning to leave those wants aside has been such a good lesson in perspective. I am more fulfilled by the time I now have than the things I could possess.

  • I love this perspective so much. It’s a great reminder to get back to base, back to the Foundation. I have seen ways how this story could be twisted, sometimes by me! Ha! The idea that God does not want us to have “beautiful” things on this earth made me feel a little guilty every time I got something to “treat myself.” But that is just the wrong way of looking at it, and it is not the point of that story, like what the author said. The main point is that God is consistently and will always pursue one thing, our heart. Our well being. Fighting for your relationship with Him. What a great sigh of relief.

  • Diane Huntsman

    So much of our lives is destined to make a good bonfire some day. As we picture the ashes, we are tempted to wonder, What’s left?
    Oh goodness.. such profound TRUTH!! And as i scroll my feeds and covet all the things, all the clothes to make me cuter, all the creams and beauty aids to make me younger, all the cute houses and decor to make me happier, all the places to go to make me look cooler… big.huge.bonfire! This was probably one of THE BEST ever devotions for me.. I’m just awakened in such a real way to the foolishness of building my kingdom on earth and trying to fit in with keeping up.. such foolishness.. thank you for these face slapping truths that should cause me to face plant in repentance.. GOOD WORD!!

  • I’m writing again today. I just wanted to ask for prayers. I am going in for a routine mammogram screening. A breast ultrasound was added because I felt a tiny nodule in my armpit. The doctor really thinks its a lymph-node and I am optimistic that all will be well. I pray for a clear and accurate testing for a clean bill of good health.

  • Caroline

    So good. I love the reminder that God is always, always after our hearts. I had a deeper revelation of this earlier this year as I am in year 6 of waiting on a healing. And the Lord spoke to me that he’s not after healing my body (although he wants to do that), but he’s after healing and connecting with my heart. So good!

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • When I have read these passages in the past, I have always thought of material wealth, but while reading through the comments I realized that you can hoard people and jobs and experiences just as much as you can things.

    I have been so frustrated with God because of all that He is preventing me from having right now. I’m not able to do my job because I need this certain certificate. I’ve been waiting for months and months and now it looks like I’m going to have to take time off until it comes in. All I can think is, why? What is the point of not letting me work? How does is it benefit anyone for me to be a drain on my company?

    And then, there is this guy. I like him so much and some times he seems to like me and some times it seems like we are just friends. And again, I just get so frustrated like, “God, why can’t you just give me this one thing?” But that is the wrong attitude to have, this guy is not something to possess. I should be happy to be his friend.

    Anyway, today’s devotional just reminded me that all of these things pass away. Chasing them and the gratification I think would come from them is not the point of my life. My focus should be Jesus and living inside the will of the Holy Spirit. Easy to say and hard to do, but worth doing.

  • This reading and devotion is quite timely for me. Yesterday an older gentleman in my apartment unit was found dead. Gosh that sounds so…well it’s just hard to type. I heard the emergency vehicles come here. I thought they sounded close so I looked out and saw that they were at my building. They all left but the police cars remained. Later yesterday afternoon the coroner came. I happened to look out when they were wheeling him out. I had actually left for some time with my daughter because I had a feeling that this was what had happened. I really didn’t want to have that image but I did end up being here to see it. That’s when it hit me. I realized I hadn’t seen him in a week at least. I just moved in here 4 months ago so I really don’t know anyone here. However I knew of him and would often see him walking about. Sometimes it was when I was pulling out of my parking space. He just always was suddenly there! And I am fastidious about looking about my car when leaving. Maybe that’s why I always noticed him. It was just depressing to me that he died alone. So sad. I don’t really know him so I don’t know if he has family but I am sure they will need to clean out his apartment of stuff that really means nothing in the end. Oh boy I don’t mean to be gloomy but it just had a great impact on me. I pray that he had peace in the end and that he was filled with love of Jesus.

    I am in a transitional place right now myself and currently I do not have a lot of people in my life. I am hopeful things will turn around. I choose to put my faith in God. I know he is taking care of me and my daughter. My life is not where I would like it to be but I have complete trust and faith that He will guide me to where I need to be. I am in the word everyday and putting my treasures in Him.

  • Nathalie Yanna

    Well said Erin. Thanks. This helps me put things into perspective, as I can spend time worrying about my IRA, and my upcoming retirement.. We do not retire from the word of God, or from loving his people.!

  • Erin preached this one today! One thing I’ve learned through these studies is that we can’t add or subtract from our self-worth. God has given us all the same worth and our worth is permanent. But there have been so many times in my life where I have tried to use money (and beauty and influence) to add to my self-worth. And the scripture shows me today that people even in Jesus’ time were trying to do the same.

    I never quite understood these scriptures until today. Especially the eye one. But what today’s reading showed me is that your eye is how you perceive the world. A healthy eye is a Godly (loving) perspective. A bad eye is an ego perspective. A good eye fills you with love and hope and grace and everything that God promises us. A bad eye fills us with darkness, and as a result, we manifest that darkness in our lives.

    Today’s readings also gave me a better understanding of the rich fool parable. The problem is not with investing and saving. The problem is that he didn’t ask how he could use the abundance God blessed him with to serve others. He was ego centered and not God (love) centered.

    I’m going to admit, I’ve always seen myself as a pretty generous person with a healthy relationship with money, but the questions in today’s book… God used them to convict me big time. In the second question: how can money be a good thing? How can it be a destructive thing? I wrote, “money can be a good thing when you use it for the purpose of love. When you ask God what to do with it.” And then I heard a very clear voice that said, “give it all away.” And I. Started. To. Freak.

    The third question: what does it look like for money to become a god? At this point I just knew I had heard the voice of God because I realized the sheer amount of times I had thought about money since waking up a couple of hours ago. Should I spend money on that bacon egg and cheese sandwich? Should I grab a seltzer water while I’m at it? Should I buy some long sleeve cotton shirts? Should I spend money on Uber or public transportation if I go get these long sleeve shirts? Boy I’m really happy I bought that beauty box subscription! I mean, today’s study revealed an attachment to money I didn’t even realize I had. In many ways I had turned it into a god without even realizing it.

    So I asked God to help me surrender my attachment and I also asked that he help me change my heart. And I asked that if he really wants me to give it all away, to transform my spirit in such a way that I can do so with love, joy, peace, and trust. I told him I am willing and I need a lot of help.

    But think about it. If God asked you to give your money alllllllllllllllllllll away, how would you react?

    Also thank you for putting up with my long comments lol. Commenting on here helps me organize my thoughts better than just jotting things down in my journal. So I really appreciate it.

    • Taylor

      I really love everything you just said! I can totally relate and it’s kind of scary! The biggest thing for me lately has been that we have been talking of having a third child. Well, with another child comes more expenses, I’d have to leave my job, which means less income and more expenses. And then I start thinking about all the things I want to buy if I have to quit my job, then I can’t have new Tupperware that I’ve been wanting, I won’t be able to go shopping and buy a new shirt whenever I feel like it, I’ll probably have to stop getting my hair done, we can’t eat out as much, I’ll have to be on a tighter budget…I think you get the idea…but then when I really listen to my heart and I know deep down that another little bundle of joy is what God really wants from me…I feel really guilty even worrying about the materialistic things. This reading really helped me see that and I will definitely be praying more and asking God to help surrender my attachments to money!

      • Julie

        This is good. Very helpful and very relatable. As someone who is finding her way back to the light and really trying to understand these scriptures, I appreciate your thorough input here.

      • Beth

        Taylor, I was in your exact position 30 years ago. I just felt such a strong calling to have a 3rd child. We did have a precious little boy who is now an incredible man. Now we laugh about all of the things we did without and how we had to scrimp to just get along. It was hard, but it was so worth it. We also see that our children have a lot of character b/c we couldn’t afford to give them everything they wanted. I just wanted to share my experience with you and encourage you to listen to God’s leading.

    • Nathalie Yanna

      Lana you make a lot of sense! If more woman would be willing to be transparent with their struggles,women would become empowered and stronger!! Thanks for sharing.!

  • Today’s topic is one that God has been teaching me some hard lessons about. I’m a teacher and it’s easy to get carried away with accumulating stuff to use for my classroom and students. But it’s something I struggle with personally too, not just in my career.

    Last month, I wrote a blog post to share what God had been teaching me about the subject of possessions. Since it’s relevant to today’s devotional, I’m sharing the post here in case anyone wants to read it. :) http://www.teachinginthetropics.com/2017/08/the-problem-with-stuff-one-teachers.html
    It may be written from the perspective of a teacher, but I think a lot of it is applicable to parents too.

  • This is a great reminder for me, as a recent college grad. I’m still unemployed & it can be frustrating at times seeking employment. I’m looking for jobs that pay well because, “I didn’t go to college for nothing.” However, I need to remind myself the importance of why I’m here. It’s not to have a good salary. Or to even have a job…. it’s to be so full of Jesus that the outpouring of my life points to Him in everything I do. My treasures here on earth will be stolen away one day, & the more I think about it, the more I’m excited for Jesus to come & give me the greatest treasure of all – HIM!

    • Janie

      My sister recently prayed for me to ” find a job where my gifts give glory to God” Thats a jib!

    • Tochi Heredia

      Hey, Ash! I was right where you are 6 months ago. My job-seeking experience was very humbling, cause God provided for me exactly what I needed… Not necessarily what I wanted.
      I pray you can trust God to show you where exactly you need to be and that you get to know Him in new ways during this time :)

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying for a breakthrough but also contentment
      I’m a few decades from graduating and had a slow start too. What I’ve learned is nothing is wasted. God honors a humble cheerful attitude that honors Him in the small things. That’s how you store treasure in heaven. Having a servant heart to bless others. God is one who promotes. He also has such s bigger picture as to what He has us learn in each season. Trust Jesus to see you through.

  • Wow! Just wow!

  • Y’all!!! This message! It is so timely for what my husband and I are dealing with! 10 months ago, we had to move his parents into a nursing facility. Since he is the only child, we are now managing 2 households…as if ours wasn’t enough. His dad is a flea market junkie. What we found in his garage is jaw dropping! The amount of stuff in their house is overwhelming! I have often been in tears. I don’t want to spend my days off taking care of stuff! I want to spend it with my family and doing something that is memorable!
    This is what I have learned, I am committed to clearing out our excess looking to a downsized future as long as I’m on earth. More importantly, I’m devoted to making memories with those I love, having an impact on those I work with and using my influence (such as it is) to teach and encourage those I come in contact with. May any gain that I obtain be all for the glory of God!
    Blessings to you, my sisters!

    • Melisa

      Yes. Moved my mom into assisted living 2 years ago. Packing with her, she had so much stuff. Sadly 3 months later she died. All the stuff in the apartment went back in her house we hadn’t sold yet. A house that held 50 years of things. I kept very little. I don’t want my kids to have to go through the same (however I’ve always been a purger). We have already talked about downsizing when they are out. Yet we can’t get my in laws to see that need. They struggle to care for their home and property. Prayerfully soon their eyes will be opened to how much easier life would be without all these burdens they cannot keep up with.

  • churchmouse

    So… I’ve been working on my funeral service – no, not because I’m gravely ill or that I have a premonition of sudden death. But since both of my parents passed away in the past year, and with the going through of their stuff… I’ve been pondering what I would be leaving behind when my time comes. I have a lot of stuff that will certainly end up on a bonfire or (preferably) given away. My daughters won’t need or want most of it. But there is a legacy I want to remain, to live after me – imperishable treasure – and that’s why I’m working on my funeral service. I don’t want it to be about me. I want it to be about Him. It’s not about what I’ve done in my life but what He did for me. And I don’t want the message to be missed. Plain, simple and direct. And yes, absolutely an altar call. I want my funeral service to be a call to Jesus. I want the opportunity given and decisions to be made. And until my dying breath I will pray they choose Jesus. Imperishable treasure. Yes.

    • Allison

      This is beautiful church mouse!

    • Jenny

      That’s so amazing!!!

    • Lana

      Sorry to hear you lost both of your parents in the same year no less! That must have been really tough. Praying for you, churchmouse. I’m sure the Holy Spirit will be all up in your homecoming service!

    • Nads

      I’ve been working on my funeral in my mind for SO LONG! People are finally starting NOT to see it as morbid. I know what I want the day to be as well. I always love your posts so it is nice that we share this in common too!! You have reminded me to write it down.

      Can we pray for relationships?! Making a decision about “treasure” and where to “lay them up” is more difficult when there is more than one person planning the time, effort and money. I’m not laying blame and I am so thankful for my husband but, it does making it much more complicated and spirit-sapping. (Please feel free to comment, whether to encourage or reprimand me :) )

  • This was so good

  • I love this Erin! Absolutely love this.

    Yesterday… actually, always good to start somewhere close to the beginning…
    My neighbours next door have been ‘gains of my life since I began living here on my own.. from complaints about a tree and the odd lead falling in their drive to my weeds and my wilderness patch of garden! I have endured, although as I write, I realise that is probably not the right word, but I have been more than fair in these situations. They both one after the other were diagnosed with cancer, so I felt I couldn’t go to them guns blazing to complain. There was always something that got in the way of going to talk to them.. the latest last 18 months though has me cross.. because of their cancer they took out a hedge and replaced it with a fence so he didn’t have to trim as it was too much for them. This was done with my full knowledge and agreement.. in the months that followed, though, I would notice and discover that my wilderness had been cut back.. but only close to the fence.. 2 footish from the fence. . I was never asked.. this irked me, and I would talk/ rant/complain to friends about it…
    Here’s the thing… Yesterday my neighbour called to tell me her husband had passed away.. my heart hurt, I burst into tears… I can assure you not because I don’t get to complain to him, but because in that moment of hearing of his passing, all I could think was… what were the last ten years about? Wasted time being angry, wasted emotions that could have been put to better use.. a wasted opportunity to have loved my neighbours..
    I realized in those moments that really these things were trivial..not important. Yes, perhaps a tad annoying, but really.. I would he were rather here to talk to, than see and feel the ache on his wife’s face. Things sure have been put into perspective for me..
    We will all perish one day, thing is, to live with Gods promises, love and grace, knowing that what we have now, cannot be held toooo tightly .. because when the end comes we will be asking.. . Did it really matter.. certainly something I’m pondering on…
    Happy Friday my loves..be happy.xxx

    • churchmouse

      I too look at missed opportunities to promote my Savior and I grieve over it. I ask His forgiveness and help to have eyes and heart wide open for the next one. Thank you Tina for your honesty and transparency. I’ve been there, done that too – and so want to do better.

    • Jeanna

      Boy Tina, that’s a bullseye for me! And I’m guessing for many of us! Thanks for sharing this.. Might I add this…. if there is 1 grieving spouse left, what an opportunity to be love on Him/her. Have a wonderful weekend, sister!

    • Tricia C

      I too have felt the missed opportunities. I am so sorry Lord. Please help me to share You more. Right now I am praying for my three older children David, Allison and Christopher who do not know the Lord. They all vehemently say that He does not exist. Please pray with me sisters. Thank you and have a blessed day.

  • Fantastic teaching! Thank you <3

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