We are studying the "Sermon on the Mount," which Jesus taught to a crowd of His disciples. He has warned us most recently to avoid being like the Pharisees, who corrupted the Word of God into religious rules and practiced righteous actions because of unrighteous motives.
The 21st annual Forbes 400 came out this week, listing the 400 richest people in America. This year, those 400 people's net worth amount to 995 billion dollars.
Every year, people read the stories of self-made billionaires like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Paul Allen, hoping to glean some wisdom on how to get rich themselves. I'll give you a hint: in this year's top-ten list, four made their fortunes through computer and software companies. You have no chance. One made his billions through investments. You have no chance. But HALF of the people on the top 10 made their billions through inheritance! When Wal-Mart's creator Sam Walton died, he left his wife and four children billions of dollars each.
Saints, this is your only guaranteed chance of becoming incredibly wealthy: inherit the treasures of your Father.
Every one of these people with tens of billions of dollars to their name will someday die. In Luke 12, Jesus told a parable of a very rich man whose land was very productive. He asked himself,
Luke 12:17-21 ..."'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
We can spend our entire lives chasing after dollars, but we're still going to die. The question is, what kind of fortune will you possess after death? The answer is: only that treasure which you have stored up for yourself in heaven.
Let me ask you today: Where is your treasure going? What are you investing in? Your time, your energy, your effort, your money - they're all being spent somewhere in something. And that's where your heart is. Make sure it's eternal.
The church building is now completely enclosed, but still no lights have been installed. Fortunately, there are lots of windows to let light in through the day. But when the clouds roll in, or the sun gets low in the sky, it gets awfully dark in there, and its hard to read a tape measure.
Jesus is saying that our eyes are the light source of our bodies. It is like our eyes are the only windows in a room. When those windows are clear and clean, and they look out upon a sunny day, light comes streaming into the room. But if what those windows are looking out on is dark, and the windows themselves are dark and dirty, then the room will be filled with darkness.
So we need to make sure that our eyes are clear, letting light stream in. How do we do that? Do what the Psalmist declared in Psalm 101...
Psa. 101:3-6 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
Setting no worthless thing before our eyes. In context, Jesus is talking about worldly wealth. Is that what your eye is focused on?
You can't serve both God and wealth. You may have heard this translated, "You cannot serve God and Mammon." The Greek word for "wealth" here is "mam-mo-NAS." "Mammon" is the word we use when we personify material wealth as a god.
Some people say, "Well, I don't have any money, so none of this applies to me!" Nonsense. You see, you don't have to be rich for this to apply to you. There are rich people who spend their lives maintaining money, and there are poor people who spend their lives trying to get money. There are middle class people who spend their lives worrying about money, and hoping for just a little more.
And when these people are Christians, it presents a huge problem. You see, you cannot serve two masters. It's not just forbidden, it's impossible. Inevitably, you will neglect one. You will begin to resent one. And when someone isn't willing to give up the maintenance or pursuit of wealth as a master, they usually give up on God. The Bible says,
1Tim. 6:7-10 ...we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
How many people have stopped serving the Lord because they were so focused on money? How many people missed church today because they were offered some overtime hours? How many people skipped their morning devotions this week to get to work early so they could build their paycheck up just a little bit? You can't serve two masters - you have to choose one.
The obvious response to this is, "Well, you can't just stop worrying about money. This is real life." To that, Jesus responds...
Because you can't serve two masters, you can either worry about your life, or have faith in God. If you're worried about life and money, then you're not having faith in God. It's a choice.
"It's not so simple to just not worry," people might say. "How can you simply not worry about life?" Jesus gives us the instructions: "Look around you. Birds live. Flowers grow. God provides."
Saints, you can put your trust in climbing the corporate ladder and attaining all the riches you can imagine. But even if you get to the top, you will fall off. Or, you can put your trust in the Lord to provide for you. You can have faith that He will care for you. And you will never be disappointed.
And tomorrow's problems are just that: tomorrow's problems. Let's just deal with today, having faith as we pray,
Matt. 6:11 "Give us this day our daily bread."
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Psa. 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.