Hello everybody. Thank you for taking the time to listen in to this podcast. If you are new to STC, this short recording includes a thought for the day, a Bible reading and a worship song. My name is James Brown – I’m part of the team here at STC and I’m taking on the daily podcasts from Alan Ward who did an incredible job last week. We continue to look at the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus’ outline of what he wants his people to live like in the world.
Today we’re looking at Matthew 6:19-34 but focusing on verse(s) 21-23: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
In this reflection we are talking about treasure. Ah ha! I hear you say. I don’t know about you, but as a parent, when I think of treasure I think of CBBC’s “Swashbuckle”. A firm favourite in our home. The premise is simple: a band of naughty pirates have stolen Gemma’s gems and a band of daring young adventurers are to win them back. We are big fans.
Gemma’s gems are obvious treasure. But are our treasures so obvious? Todays focus verse is sandwiched between a two part teaching on money. At first glance it seems oddly out of place. Like a tangent, much like my early Swashbuckle illustration. But these comments about the health of our eyes relating to the light in our body must have something to do with money because he talks about it before and afterwords.
I’ve heard this explained very simply. Money can blind us. We tend to know when we are doing other unhealthy behaviours. If we lie. We know about it. In most cases we make a conscious choice to do something that we know is not good for us. But few of us think that we have an unhealthy approach to money. If we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have a problem” … it could be likely we do. And unlike other unhealthy behaviours, money has a way of darkening our eyes, of hiding unhealthy habits in plain sight. And so we are being warned to keep a healthy eye on it.
When I was doing the training year at STC, my colleagues and friends, Alan and Helen Ward, taught on the unholy trinity of money, sex and power. Year upon year they got some serious feedback for their approach to these topics. It was great but, boy, did they ruffle some feathers. One of my big takeaways from listening to them share on money was that if we watch our bank accounts carefully it becomes really obvious where our treasure is, the thing our hearts want the most.
The best way to see what your heart wants the most is to follow the money. For example, verse 21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Don’t let the simplicity of this phrase fool us. Let’s reflect together on what these words mean: If we want to know where our heart rests, if we want to know what our heart serves, what our real source of self-worth is: then watch where our money goes most effortlessly, most joyfully.
I don’t know about you, but for me it can just easily fly out of my bank account to those purchases. For me, it can be a variety of things. Sometimes my appearance; I do really like nice shoes. Sounds a bit odd to say on a podcast but it’s an image thing. If I don’t control it I could find myself spending a lot of money on shoes and my heart feels happy (or another vice is new coffee shops!).
What about you? Where is your treasure? Where do you find security or satisfaction? In saving for something in the future… that can be a way of control too. In appearance? In information, knowledge and art, like books, podcasts and films? Where – if we don’t look – does the money just go and what does that tell us about our Christian life?
It’s not all doom and gloom. If we recognise that we are disproportionately putting our trust in something that is not God, we can do something about it. And with God’s help we can relocate that desire.
Last time I was on the podcast was in June and we looked at 1 Peter together. I was looking back at my previous notes trying to remember how much to structure these short reflections, and coincidentally, there is a verse there that connects with this passage in a way I hadn’t seen before.
This is the wisdom of Peter, one of the New Testament writers in 1 Peter 2:7, “To you who believe, he is precious.” Actually, he uses a noun form. Peter actually says, “To you who believe, he is preciousness.” He is the ultimate treasure.
He also left behind supreme treasure when he came to be with us. He had the richness of heaven and he came to earth in poverty as a baby born in a stable. Why? What could Jesus possibly want that he didn’t have in heaven? Us. We are his treasure. Again, 1 Peter 2:9: “You’re a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own possession.” The word means treasures.
When we see Jesus on the cross, with nothing left; when we see Jesus making us his treasure, that will make him our treasure. That’s the only thing that will bring your heart away from all of these other things.
We’ll start to treasure Jesus, and then we’ll be free.
Let me finish with this. If you are new to STC. If you are listening to this podcast and you wouldn’t call yourself someone who trusts Jesus with their life – start today. Trust him. Treasure him.
If hearing these words in this way makes you want to become a Christian, let’s say a prayer together now.
Jesus, sorry when I’ve placed my trust, my significance in things that will pass away. Forgive me.
Thank you that you went to the cross for me. I see that now.
It’s so transformational, would you please rescue me from things that so easily entangle, set me free and fill my life with your presence.
Become the thing I treasure most. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
If you are already treasuring Jesus. I hope these lyrics from a 1920s hymn encourage you today:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of the world will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and his grace.
Thank you for listening. You are very welcome to come and join in again tomorrow, and we have a bit of a surprise planned for you on Wednesday. God bless.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 6:19-24
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“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.