DUNCAN/True religion, Part 5: Holy affections
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:19-24. Christ here is going to turn our attention to the state of our hearts. Having just warned against seeking the praise of men in our religion, Jesus now warns against coveting the world. Affluence is something which we very much have to struggle with in our culture, in our nation, in our state, and even in our city. We have been blessed, and there is no trial like affluence. Christ is here calling His disciple to be different from the popular culture.
He sets forth two masters, and He says you can either serve one or you can serve the other. The Lord Jesus is forcing us to make a stand, forcing us to make a choice, and forcing us to evaluate the state of our heart. I would invite you to look with me today and see the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and to specifically to ask the Lord to help you search out your own heart because the Lord Jesus means for us to engage in some earnest self-evaluation as He gives His disciples these words. We will see three things from the passage. First, Christians must guard against setting their hearts on the temporary blessings of this life. Second, Christians must consciously place the highest value on eternal treasure. And third, our desires show us who our God is.
I. Christians must guard against setting their hearts on the temporary blessings of this life.
First, we see in verse 19, the Lord Jesus set forth the first of two treasures. He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Christians must guard against setting their hearts on the temporary blessings of this life. This is the first thing that the Lord Jesus teaches in this passage. Every man has a treasure. Every person has a desire. Everybody has their ultimate priority in this life. Everybody has something in which they delight above anything else. And the Lord Jesus Christ is talking about that delight. For each one of us, perhaps it is slightly different. It comes in different forms, and it has been attained in various degrees of success. But Christ is saying here to be careful with what is your ultimate delight, your ultimate desire. He is saying to be careful about that which you choose to be your ultimate treasure. Christ, by the way, is not saying that we are to have no treasure. Nor is He saying that we may only have heavenly treasure and that we may value nothing in this life. No. He is directing us to make a very wise choice of that which we treasure the most. And He is saying to us to be careful of temporary things. He is saying to not supplant the things which ought to be first in our lives. And Christ in His kindness not only says for us not to do that, but He gives us reasons, and arguments as to why we ought not do that. He speaks of the eternal decaying of material possessions and speaks of the possibility of someone coming in from the external world and taking those possessions from us. The Lord Jesus Christ is asking us to take stock in that which we value. Do we have our treasure in the wrong place? Have we fallen into the trap of coveting possessions? We must be aware of coveting the things of this world. And we must be prepared to cultivate a real heavenly mindedness, evaluating the things that we think of most, in light of eternity. We must cultivate a real heavenly mindedness about our possessions.
II. Christians must consciously place the highest value on eternal treasure.
The Lord Jesus tells us in verse 20 that Christians must consciously place the highest value on eternal treasure. He says, “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth, nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” He is counseling us here to make the joys and glories of the eternal world the first things of our lives, the things that we truly desire. What are these treasures of heaven? He is not just talking about eternal life, although that is one of them. He is speaking of all the blessings of heaven that God brings into our lives. The Lord Jesus is giving us a chance to take stock of our heart. He wants us to search ourselves out and to allow the Spirit also to search us out and to see where our heart is. Christ is teaching that heavenly treasure is safe. These things cannot be taken away from. They are not corruptible, and they are not movable.
III. Our desires show us who our God is.
Jesus also teaches us in verses 21-24 that our desires show us who our God is. They are the evidence of what we value. Look at what you desire, and you will see what you value. Look at where your heart is, and you will see what your treasure is. He says in verse 21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He goes on to say, in verses 22 and 23, that there are some people who think about life in the wrong way. He says in verse 22, “The eye is the lamp of the body and so if the eye is clear then your whole body will be full of light.” He uses a metaphor. It is almost a parable here. He speaks about the eye as if it is a keyhole letting the light of the outside world into our soul. He is speaking of the eye as that thing which focuses our energies and our attentions on certain things in life. And He is saying that if your eye is spiritually blind, it doesn’t matter how bright the world is out there, you will not be able to choose the right treasure. And so, He is talking about two spiritual conditions. One is spiritual blindness. One is spiritual sightedness. He is saying if you are spiritually blind, you will choose temporal things as your ultimate blessing. You will confuse the gift with the giver. He says it is an impossibility to serve both God and mammon. So you must choose who you will serve. Anything can become an idol. I appeal to you, if you find in your heart that you love treasure which is here and which is not God more than anything else, you need to cry out to God and ask for a changed heart and He will do it. I warrant you, He will do it. He will change your heart. Rest in Him. May God work in us a healthy distrust of the pleasures of this world and a spiritual longing for the first things through Jesus Christ our Lord.