In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus addresses the issue of materialism. Materialism can and will enslave the heart (19-21), the mind (22-23), and the will (24). When a person allows materialism to creep into their lives, it becomes an idol. Anything that takes the throne of your heart instead of God will become what you serve. The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s people turning toward idolatry. Money, possessions, and materialistic things are among the top things that would turn them away and it is the same way in this day in age. For the next 3 posts, we will study how Jesus tells us to rid ourselves of these idols and keep our focus on Him.
Matthew 6:19, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.”
- In order to turn from our materialistic ways, we have to address how to get rid of the issue. Jesus describes earthly treasures with 3 things that are temporal – moths, rust, and thieves.
- Moths – What do moths do? If they get in your closet they will eat holes in your clothes. In Jesus’ day, clothing was highly valued and it represented your wealth. Some of the best clothing would be made of wool and that is one of moths’ favorite entrees. So what good are clothes if they have holes? They will just be thrown away. The same goes with earthly possessions and treasures. They waste away. Earthly treasures cannot be taken past this earth so what’s the use in putting all of your time and effort into attaining more? “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.” (James 5:1-2) Jesus’ warning: Stay away from pleasures that will wear out like an old suit of clothes.
- Rust – Rust is a corrosion of metal. In this case, the word rust translated is brosis. It figuratively means to corrode but it literally means to “eat away.” When Jesus used the word brosis, he was referring to diseases that attack wheat, grain, grapes, crops, etc. Examples of things that “eat away” are fungi, worms, and other various agents. Barclay explains that, “In the east many a man’s wealth consisted in the corn and the grain that he had stored away in his great barns. But into that corn and grain there could come the worms and the rats and the mice, until the store was polluted and destroyed.” Once again, man-made wealth would waste away. There was nothing permanent about possessions like that. John 6:27 says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Jesus’ warning: Stay away from pleasures that can be eroded away.
- Thieves – Thieves are those who steal something that is not theirs on purpose. They will dig through others’ possessions until they find something of value or worth to take. D.A. Carson explains that, “Many ‘treasures on earth’ are the delight of thieves, who break in and steal. Actually they ‘dig through’ and steal; for most homes in ancient Palestine were made of mud brick which easily succumbed to any thief with a sharp tool.” It was easy for a thief to find valuables in homes in that day. It’s still easy today for people to steal our prized possessions. That’s why we shouldn’t depend on our wealth or possessions because they can easily be taken away from us. Nothing on this earth is permanent so we need to keep a loose grip on the things that could easily distract us from our true purpose. “Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.” (Psalm 62:10) Jesus’ warning: Stay away from pleasures that can be stolen away.
Matthew 6:20-21, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.“
- Jesus gave 3 warnings when it comes to storing up treasure. These things are earthly, temporal, and can easily be snatched away from us. But there is hope. When we store our treasures in heaven, the moths will not be able to eat it, the rust can not corrode it, and the thieves will not be able to steal it.
- What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? Storing up our treasures is not just limited to tithing but when we give for God’s purposes, we are furthering the work of His kingdom. Jesus told the rich young ruler how to store treasures in heaven in Matthew 19:21, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” He’s not commanding that we give everything that we have away, but he is telling us that our hearts need to be focused on Him only and not our possessions.
- Another way to store up treasures is to “use all we have for the glory of God” (Wiersbe). Whether that be the material things we are blessed with or the spiritual gifts that God has given us, it should all be used for God’s glory. How will you use your money, time, talents and gifts that the Lord has given you? Ask the Lord how you can use these things to bring glory to His Kingdom.
- It is often said that “the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” We should examine our hearts to see what desires are controlling us. What we treasure the most is what we will serve. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because “everything you do flows from it.” Does your heart desire the materialistic, temporal things of this world? Or does it desire the eternal, everlasting things of heaven? “As always, the heart must be right first. In fact, if the heart is right, everything else in life falls into its proper place. The person who is right with the Lord will be generous and happy in his giving to the Lord’s work” (John MacArthur).
- Your heart will always follow your treasure. Make sure you know what and where your treasure is before you start to pursue it. If you invest and set your heart on treasures of this world, you will only gain this world. But if you invest and set your heart on treasures in heaven, you will gain a life in eternity. An eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. – Colossian 3:1