************ Sermon on Matthew 6:21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 24, 2003
"Your Heart Follows Your Treasure"
[I am greatly indebted to Randy Alcorn's book "The Treasure Principle" for the thoughts in this sermon.]
When it comes to this morning's message, two tombs describe it all. One belongs to William Borden. The other belongs to King Tut.
Title: William Borden's Consecration
In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world's hurting people. Writing home, he said, "I'm going to give my life to prepare for the mission field."
After graduating from Yale University he turned down several high-paying job offers.
Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month.
His tomb is in a graveyard hidden off the back alley of a street littered with garbage. It is overgrown with grass and weeds.
King Tut, the boy king, was only 17 when he died. He was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of golden artifacts. His gold coffin was found within gold tombs within gold tombs. The burial site was filled with tons of gold. The Egyptians, you need to realize, believed in an afterlife – one where they could take earthly treasures. But all the treasures intended for King Tut's eternal enjoyment stayed right where they were until Howard Carter discovered the burial chamber in 1922. They had not been touched for more than 3000 years.
Borden's grave was obscure, dusty, and hidden. Tut's tomb glittered with unimaginable wealth. Yet, where are these two young men now? One, who lived in opulence as a king, is in the misery of a Christless eternity. The other, who lived in service to the King of the universe, is enjoying his everlasting reward in heaven. He is enjoying "treasures in heaven."
Tut's life was tragic because of an awful truth discovered too late – that he couldn't take his treasures with him. William Borden's life was triumphant. Why? Because instead of leaving his treasures behind, he sent them on ahead – he used his earthly wealth to gain "treasures in heaven."
I Eternal Rewards
A What is our future life like? The popular image has us sitting on fluffy white clouds, strumming harps, and singing as part of a celestial choir. For us nonmusical types this vision of the future fills our souls with dread. However, as all of us should realize, this is not a true picture of eternity. Eternity is a time of rest and relief from the burdens of sin and suffering; but, it is also a time of great activity.
What kinds of things will be doing in the future life? Some of us will reign with Christ (Rev 20:6). Faithful servants will be put "in charge of many things" (Mt 25:21,23). Christ will grant some of His disciples leadership positions over cities, in proportion to their service on earth (Lk 19:12-19). We will even have command of angels (1 Cor 6:3).
B God's people, His elect, are given these eternal rewards for doing good works. I want you to listen to the following texts:
(Eph 6:8) ... you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.God rewards us – out of grace. That's the message of Scripture. God rewards us for doing good works, for persevering under persecution, for showing compassion to the needy, for treating enemies kindly, for being generous. God rewards us with "treasures in heaven."
(Rom 2:6,10) God "will give to each person according to what he has done" ... (10) but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Lk 6:22-23) Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. (23) "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven."
(Lk 14:13-14) But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
(Lk 6:35) But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
(Mt 19:21) "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."
C Now, for God to reward us for the good we do, He needs to keep track of the good we do. The message of the Bible is that Jesus is keeping track of even our smallest acts of kindness, acts that we perhaps do not even give a thought to:
(Mt 10:42) And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
God is keeping a record of all we do. And, He rewards or punishes us according to this.
(Rev 20:12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
(Mal 3:16) Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
Imagine one of the angels in heaven recording everything good you do. The time you helped your neighbor roof his house or sod his lawn, the meals you brought over to someone recovering from surgery, the money you slipped to someone facing tough times, the visits you made to widows and widowers, the volunteer work you do for the church or some kingdom cause, the monthly or weekly checks to the church, the donations you make to The Bible League and the Christian School and Bethany and The Back to God Hour and CRWRC and Tulare Kings Right to Life – all of these are being recorded in the books or scrolls. These are not private diaries that the Bible is talking about; these are public documents that are meant to be read.
D God rewards His people. He gives them "treasures in heaven" – treasures they send on ahead. By being generous with our time and talents and money on earth we are storing up for ourselves treasure in heaven. Let me ask, have you been making regular deposits?
Send your treasures ahead. Some people wonder if this is a Biblical concept. Not only is it a Biblical concept, our Bible passage makes clear that it is a Biblical command: "store up for yourselves," says Jesus, "treasures in heaven." That's not a wish, a prayer, a hope, a heartfelt cry; it is a command. The Lord expects His followers to store up for themselves treasures in heaven. He expects them to send their treasures ahead.
God rewards His people. Some people wonder if it is wrong to be motivated by a reward. No it isn't. If it were wrong, Christ wouldn't have given us this command. But notice, the reward we are to seek is not in this life. I think here of what Jesus said to His mealtime host, a Pharisee, one Sabbath:
(Lk 14:12-14) "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. (13) But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."It is not wrong to be motivated by a future reward. However, as God's children we all know our main reason for storing up treasures in heaven should be our desire to glorify God and to thank Him for what He does for us in Christ.
II A Heart in the Right Place
A "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Instead of leaving your treasures behind "where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal," send your treasures on ahead "where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
That's what Jesus says. Nevertheless, many Christians dread the thought of leaving this world.
Why? Because so many have stored up their treasures on earth, not in heaven. Each day brings us closer to death. If your treasures are on earth, that means each day brings you closer to losing your treasures.
John Wesley toured a vast estate with a proud plantation owner. They rode their horses for hours and saw only a fraction of the man's property. At the end of the day they sat down to dinner. The plantation owner eagerly asked, "Well, Mr. Wesley, what do you think?"
Wesley replied, "I think you are going to have a hard time leaving all this."
I am sure you realize what I am getting at: to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth, your heart has to be in the right place. Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
A couple of years ago I bought shares in a technology company called Citrix Systems. What happened? Suddenly the name Citrix jumped off the page or screen at me where a month before I would have passed right over it without even seeing it. I began to check its price on the stock market every single day.
The same sort of thing happened when I came back from my mission trip to Myanmar. Before I went I wasn't even sure where the country was. I certainly took no note of it the few times it was on the news. But now I sit up and take notice of every single news item concerning Myanmar. I watch the news and I pray.
When Jesus tells us that our hearts follow our treasure, He tells us that our treasure always betrays the inner desires of our heart. Whether it is Citrix Systems, Myanmar, Bethany Christian Homes, Trinity United Reformed Church, Central Valley Christian School or whatever, our heart tends to follow whatever we consider to be important at the moment. As surely as the compass needle points to the north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow. Show me you check book register, your VISA bill, your Income Tax receipts, and I will be able to tell where your treasure is.
B Do you wish you had more of a heart for missions? Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put more of your money in missions. Do you wish you had greater concern for the poor? Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put more of your money in organizations like CRWRC, Visalia Rescue Mission, and Love INC. Do you wish you were more spiritually minded? Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put more of your money in the church and Kingdom. Your heart always follows your money. Do you wish you cared more for eternal things? Then put more of your money, maybe most of your money, in eternal things.
C Do you see here what God wants? He wants your heart! He isn't looking for "donors" in His kingdom, for those who stand outside the cause and consider whether or not to give and how much. Rather, He is looking for disciples immersed in the causes they give to. He wants people so filled with a vision for eternity that they invest their money, their time, their prayer, their talents, themselves in what really matters most.
I want you to consider one of the heroes of faith mentioned in the Bible. I am thinking of Moses. According to Hebrews, he left behind the "treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Heb 11:26). Moses, if you remember, grew up as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He grew up in wealth and luxury. But he left it all behind. He went from a palace to a tent, a city to the wilderness. Where he used to be served hand and foot by dozens of servants, he now was serving or tending sheep. Why did he do this? Because his heart was following the greater treasure of heaven.
Are you like Moses? Do you leave your earthly treasure behind and send heavenly treasure ahead?
He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life focused on something he will lose. He who lays up treasures in heaven spends his life focused on something he will never lose.
Thomas Hart Benton, U.S. statesman, was a Democratic senator from Missouri for thirty years (1821-51) and ardently promoted the opening up of the West. Benton accurately foresaw the dangers into which the slavery question was leading the Union.
When Benton's house in Washington was destroyed by fire, he was summoned from Congress to view the ruin. He gazed at it for a while, then said, "It makes dying easier. There's so much less to leave."
He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life filled with worry and concern and despair (cf Mt 6:25f). He who lays up treasures in heaven spends his life filled with and anticipating joy.
Are you despairing or rejoicing? Are you making regular deposits in heaven or are all your deposits here on earth?
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