Matthew 6:19-21

I’ve thought about the Church a lot this week.  Not just about this one in particular, but the Church as a whole.  That’s what our day of fasting was about – to engage the Lord of heaven and earth about His Church.  And I want to spend some more time this morning on critical issues related to the Church.

And let me just say this – right out of the blocks:  the Church is not thinking soteriologically (salvation).  The Church is not acting soteriologically.  The Church is not dealing with people soteriologically.

The Church is thinking materially.  It’s thinking numerologically.  It’s dealing with humanity on a material level!  It’s acting financially.  It’s dealing psychologically!  It’s dealing, and for lack of a better word, anthropologically rather than Theologically – anthropos meaning man, Theos meaning God.  The Church isn’t thinking soteriologically, it’s thinking anthropologically!

It seems that these things are never quite so clear as when you deal with people who have been in mainline Christianity all their lives.  Flo and I were sitting in a restaurant Tuesday night with a first cousin of mine and her husband – both of whom have been Southern Baptists for fifty-eight years.

I had gone to the Scriptures a couple of times during the evening, and one of the passages I had quoted was from Romans twelve:  “Be not conformed to the world order, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds….”  In other words God’s people have to stop thinking anthropologically and begin thinking soteriologically.  We must think with the mind of Christ.  For me to live is Christ … and He must increase and I must decrease.

But it was made clear to both of us that the minds with which we were dealing had not yet been transformed by the Risen Savior for, to them, God met different people with different truth – according to where they were.  In other words, there are no absolutes from an eternal and unchanging God, but only a sliding scale of truth which has to be conformed to the spiritual condition of the recipient – man!

Man and his condition are the focal point of the whole universe!  God has to conform to us.  Everything revolves around us! – specifically me!

The Church has its eyes on itself, and it doesn’t see its own condition.  It’s dealing with the world anthropologically rather than soteriologically.  Its ministry is to man rather than to God, in place of its ministry to God!

But Jesus Christ the Lord says, - “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.”  “Don’t be conformed to this world order, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”  “Follow Me….” He says.  My Kingdom disciples mourn their depravity and their deficiencies, and they hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God!  My disciples are pure in heart, for their goal is to see God!  “Blessed the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God!”  When My disciples are persecuted, great is their reward in heaven!

He says – My disciples no longer think like dead men.  They’re no longer anthropologically focused – egocentric people.  Even when they deal compassionately with others, they don’t trumpet their own works, but they remove themselves from any place of honor for the sake of their Father!

And when they pray, their prayers aren’t even self-centered and for impressing others – their prayers are for the glory of God and His Kingdom!  And when My people exhibit piety in their lives, it isn’t for their own reputation – but for the reputation and fame and glory of their Father!  They want to be like Him and imitate Him and honor Him.

But the Church in our time is radically attuned to man – generally – rather than to God!  It’s self-centered.  Egocentric.  Its view isn’t toward God and His Kingdom.  Today it has no concept of the soteriological victory of the King in history.  It hasn’t entered the heavenlies where Christ is – instead, it’s dealing with material things where man is!  The central thread of its existence is for man and his pleasure and his comfort – making man feel good!  And that’s why I say that the Church is dealing anthropologically rather than soteriologically.

Jesus says, “Don’t accumulate treasures on earth where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal.  But accumulate treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust are consuming, and where thieves are also not breaking in and stealing; for where your treasure is, there also shall be your heart.”

As you deal with other people, where is your mind?  Where are your affections?  We naturally could be dealing at almost any level in our relationships with others; but even when dealing at a very high level, for example in serving alms and giving compassion to the poor, where is your mind – and where are your affections?

Is the ultimate purpose acceptance and admiration – which supports your own view of yourself and feeds your own ego?  Is the ultimate purpose to be seen?  Is the ultimate purpose to win honor and influence?  Te be liked and followed?  Is it then the welfare to the glory of men?  Humanity!

“…Where your treasure is, there also shall be your heart.”

Approaching the mercy seat of our heavenly Father – with Christ as High Priest and Advocate – is our highest privilege, isn’t it?  In your approaches to Him in prayer, is the ultimate purpose for you or for Him?  When you pray are you self-centered or God-centered?  It surely feeds the ego if other religious people think you’re a prayerful person, doesn’t it?  And it makes you feel good if God thinks you’re a prayerful person.

“…Where your treasure is, there also shall be your heart.”

And in other religious duties, such as fasting, where is your mind?  Is the purpose to manipulate the thoughts and intents and initiatives of other people?  Or is it to win approval from God for yourself?  What is the purpose?  Is it for me – or is it for Him?  Is my mind man-centered – self centered – or is it focused on the salvation of God in Christ Jesus the Lord?

“…Where your treasure is, there also shall be your heart.”

The apostle Paul says, in Colossians chapter two, that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in God the Father and in Christ Jesus.  Then, in chapter three, he says this:  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Now, if that’s the case, then your treasure is stored in Christ, who is at the right hand of the Father.  So where should your heart be?

  “…Where your treasure is, there also shall be your heart.”

According to Scripture, the Christian life is a life that finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in the Word.  The Christian life will not go beyond Christ – it will have nothing apart from Christ, or in addition to Christ – and it must have the fullness of the treasures in Christ!  And the reason is that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily!

And our lives are a growing-up-into-Him in all things, says Paul in Ephesians four, verse fourteen.  And then he says, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

And then Paul says, in his second Corinthian letter:  “…We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”  We as Christians are in Christ and He in us; and God has commanded, says Paul, the light to shine out of darkness in our hearts – to the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ!

And that all this abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God.  And we are all living this life through faith - this life which is always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the treasures of life in Him might be made manifest in our mortal flesh!

Where is the depository of treasure?  Because that’s where your heart’s going to be!

Now, this may have started out looking as if it might be a major change of topic; but it sure doesn’t look like it now, does it?  In fact our Lord cuts with precision into our self-centeredness with the question:  “What do you love the most?”  He’s still on the same topic, isn’t He?

In three short verses He lays the human soul open and sets the highest standard for the Church.  “Where is your first love?  Where is your heart?”  “Don’t lay up for yourselves treasures on earth….” The wealth of the world dissipates, and the praise and honor of men certainly goes away, because those other people want their own praise and glory rather than yours.  Tomorrow they’ll forget about you and go out and try to find a way to get their own recognition!  To feed their own egos!

In fact, there’s not really much here for you to concentrate your attention on as treasure!  There are things to be seen – and I don’t really think that that’s what Jesus means.  There’s wealth and power, but I don’t think He’s pointing those out in particular.  And there’s pleasure and all the abominable practices out there, but I don’t think He’s especially zeroing in on those.

We could talk about every evil that comes out of the heart of men, and I still don’t think we’d be close to what Jesus means here, although all of them could maybe be subsumed under what He does mean.

But let’s don’t limit the words of our Lord – He’s used a word which is much more inclusive that any of these things.  And to put money here, or gold, or clothes, or cars, or businesses or friendships – or anything else for that matter – would be a limitation far too severe for the text.  Treasure.  The delight of the heart.

And what is the delight of the heart for all dead men?  Anything in this world order!  The world order itself!  The way things work!  Especially that which has to do with self!  And in the world order is evil, and in the self is depravity!  So there’s an inherent deadness in whatever delights dead men; and whatever it is tends to more corruption!  It goes away, or it’s forgotten, or it dies, or it’s eaten, or it rusts, or dissipates with use – or somebody steals it and then they delight in it and it rots with them!

But Jesus uses a figure of speech here which is for the purpose of making us see the two clearly: 1) world order, and 2) Heavenly order.  “As it is in heaven….”  And, as a side benefit, he sets our imaginations free to roam the depths of depraved delight.  But the thing is, that one delight today may be forgotten tomorrow.  A deep first love this week may be somebody else’s next week!  You see?

But it’s all in this world order.  And there are no real treasures in the world order!  It’s all corruptible.  They don’t satisfy – they don’t last – they don’t secure; they’re like a puff of air and they’re gone.

Jesus continues the allegorical figure and applies it to us.  And we have to remember that when Jesus uses allegory – or metaphorical language – there is a central truth.  And it’s not required of us to make every point of the language fit some preconceived pattern.

And, as we examine the text, we see that the allegory requires us to store up treasures in heaven, because there’s no dissipation in the heavenly order like there is in the world order!

But we know this is allegory.  And we also know that God doesn’t have some bank up there where He stores up the good things we do so that when we get to heaven we can go make withdrawals!  We’re not paid interest on our piety!

Nevertheless, there is a central truth here.  And the apostle Paul, as we saw earlier in the letters to Corinth, Galatia and Colossae, has taken that central truth and used it to the benefit of the Church, which has forthwith forgotten it!  And that truth is that deposited in our Lord Jesus Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and light.  And in Him we access all those treasures, through faith!

And He says to us here in this passage – your love, your delight, your treasures – where are they going to be?  Your compassion and good deeds, your prayers, and your fastings – will they be treasures in heaven or will they be to please men and be ultimately for your own vainglory?

If they’re to please men, then the glory and honor received from men will be rotten tomorrow.  But if they’re treasures found in the body of Christ, and if they’re for the glory of God, then they’re eternally secure, because Jesus is the eternal Son of God, and Savior of men!  Soteriology.

Then, finally, Jesus says that the heart follows the treasure.  In other words, whatever pleases us – that’s where our hearts lead us.  So, consequently, the tenor of our lives will be either godly or earthly.  We’ll love the things of the world order or we’ll love the treasures deposited in Christ the Lord.

Where the treasure is, there is the value and esteem – there the love and affection; and the desires and pursuits – and the aims and intents – and the goals and aspirations.  And all is done in the mindset of that treasure.  All with that in view.  Where the treasure is the heart follows after.  And where the treasure is are the fears and the cares about retaining it.  And there our hope and trust are; there our joy and delight are.  And there our thoughts will be.  Thoughts.  Transformed by the renewing of your minds.

To that treasure, the inward thought will be our first thought.  To that treasure will go the free thought.  To that treasure will go the frequent thought.  To that treasure will go the familiar thought.

But love, praise, honor, respect and obedience are due to God from the whole heart.  And the only way to give all that to Him is through Jesus – where the treasures are deposited!

The Church seems to be depositing treasures all over the place; and they’re rotting.  My prayer all day Friday – and it’s much on my mind all the time – is that our Lord bring His Church back to Himself for the glory of our Father in heaven.