Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

Sometimes, when discussing a text of Scripture, I find myself having to do a lot of self-examination. I don’t often find myself doing things for the applause of others. It happens at times, and at that point, I have to pause and think about what’s going on. I find myself thinking about Earthly treasures more than I do man’s applause and so this is more of a struggle for me than other things. I want to have a nice car, a nice house, fast internet, a good phone, I struggle in this area more than the other. Earthly things can have a tendency to draw my eyes away from what matters.

John Piper made a picture that hung in his kitchen famous. This picture illustrates the problem with focusing on the things of this world. It said,

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

That statement really has a way of jumping out at you. And it’s the point of our message today. Live for what will last.

I woke up this morning and received a message from the guy who was my best friend when I was in High School. He said that one of our friends died last night. He was a guy that we used to play basketball with when I was in High School and then college, he was a year older than I am and much more fit than I am. Last I heard though, he and his family were attempting to live for Christ. If this is the case then his short life was spent living for what will last.

Live for what will last. You have only one life, it will soon be passed and only what’s done for Christ will last. Live for what will last.

Understanding what Jesus means by laying up treasures in Heaven needs to be understood before we begin. I am happy to say that Jesus has mentioned it so much that this is easy to figure out. Jesus has made it clear which works are of an eternal value. In Matthew 6:1, Jesus talks about rewards being given in Heaven for those who give to the needy without announcing it to everyone. In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus discusses Heavenly rewards being given to those who pray in secret. In Matthew 6:17, Jesus discusses Heavenly rewards for those who fast in secret. Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus discussed being persecuted for Christ’s sake and those people would receive Heavenly rewards (Matthew 5:11). Jesus has also already said in the Sermon on the Mount that those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness would be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). These works are eternal. These works are things that will last.

Let’s think through this momentarily.

In what category does getting a new car belong in?

In what category is honoring your parents?

In what category is reading your Bible?

In what category is having a cell phone?

In what category is giving to those in need?

In what category is going to church?

In what category is watching Avengers Endgame?

Live for what will last.

Read Matthew 6:19-34.

Work For Heavenly, Not Earthly Rewards (Vv. 16-21)

Jesus begins this discussion by talking about treasures on Earth vs. Treasures in Heaven. He begins by discussing where our treasures should be located. Should we work for treasures here on Earth, where everything decays? Cars gain rust, cell phones fall apart after a few years, everything here on Earth decays or can be taken from you by a thief. Is this where your treasure should be located?

Giving to those in need, praying, fasting, living righteously in this world, those things are eternal. Do the rewards from these labors ever pass away?

In 2012 we bought a car that I loved. It still runs well. It has dents all over it and rusted spots on the side of it. The seats are falling apart and the exhaust has a leak in it. There is also a short in some of the wiring which makes all of the lights come on at the same time. The Durango won’t live forever. I have owned 5 cars in my life. They all deteriorate. But even faster is the deterioration of my electronics. One of my neighbor’s houses burned down a few months ago. One of the neighbor’s next to me struggles to keep the rainwater out of his house and it deteriorates part of his home. Live for what will last.

The eternal soul of that person you help will live forever and God will reward you for the help. The prayer that you pray to God in devotion to Him comes with the reward of closeness to God which does not fade away. The eternal truths found in God’s Word don’t fade away and tell us how to be saved and live a life that is pleasing to God, reading it and obeying it comes with a glorious reward.

Live for what will last.

As a way of shifting to the next conversation Jesus says that ,

“For wherever your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21 ESV

That which you work for is an indicator as to the health of your desires. If you constantly desire what is Earthly rather than Eternal then your heart is here on Earth and not in Heaven. If you constantly desire the Earthly then your heart is unhealthy.

Healthy Sight Sees Heavenly Rewards As Good (Matthew 6:22-23)

Now, Jesus begins to discuss how we view the world. If your treasure is the things of this world, He has already said that your heart is on the things of this world. If you view life this way, “if your eye is bad”, then your constant focus will be only on what is here on Earth. Your constant thoughts will be on how good or bad things are in your estimation. Your constant thought will be on how much or how little you have. Your constant thought will be on whether or not you have the stuff of this world that you want and you will give little to no thought of what is eternal. If your eye is good then you will not view life this way. If you view the heavenly rewards as the good of this life then you will not be eaten up with the pleasures of this world.

Christ has come and redeemed us from this world. He has seated us in the heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6). This is not our home. We know that everything here is vanishing. The things of this world are going to go away. Why would we think constantly about the things of this world as if they are our great good.

If the eye is good the whole body sees things rightly. If the eye is bad then the whole body sees things wrongly. If you have a healthy understanding of what is truly meaningful and what is not then you will view the world rightly.

If you are constantly thinking about what clothes you want, what hairstyle you just have to have, which cell phone you have to have, game console, etc. and you think little of the eternal then the eye of your heart is unhealthy. You are not seeing things as you should.

It Is Not Possible To Live For Both The Earthly And The Eternal (Matthew 6:24)

Now, in order to press His hearers a little further, Jesus states that it is not possible to be devoted to both the worldly and the eternal. When it is attempted you will either love and wholeheartedly pursue earthly goods and be dissatisfied with the things of eternal value or you will wholeheartedly pursue the riches found in Christ that are of eternal value and be dissatisfied with the things of this world that you have to do. There isn’t a middle ground here.

Jesus uses a common analogy here of servant and master. A person would struggle to have two masters, it wouldn’t work out. He would be wholeheartedly devoted to one and despise the other. And then, Jesus gets to the point. You can’t serve both God and money.

Was money necessary for life? Yes, it was. Is money necessary for us today? Yes, it is. Is there a way to use money and be in service of God? Yes, there is. The thing we strive after is being people who love and honor God with our lives and use money in service of Him. We don’t want to be people who strive after money and send some pretend service to God from time to time. I know people who serve money wholeheartedly and throw some of their extra money to the Church from time to time in an attempt to assuage their conscience. It makes them feel good, but they spend their whole life seeking after the goods of this world. On the other hand, I know some wealthy people who serve God with the money they receive from business. They work hard, “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), and use their money in a way that honors and glorifies God. I also know some people who are impoverished, but serve the Lord with great joy. On the other hand, I know some people that are impoverished and always thinking about the things that they don’t have. You don’t have to be rich to be in service to the things of this world and just because you are poor doesn’t mean you are safe in this regard.

Live for what will last, you can’t serve both God and money. You can’t life for both the earthly and the eternal.

Rather Than Living For Earthly Things, Trust God To Provide The Earthly While You Seek The Eternal (Matthew 6:25-34)

The last part of this discussion is about anxiety and worry concerning the things of this world. Jesus simply says, “do not be anxious about your life” (Matthew 6:25). But this is not about what we would oftentimes describe is sinfully chasing after things that don’t matter. Here the discussion is about the needs of everyday life.

Our cares are to be placed upon the Lord. Our desires are to be heavenly focused. Our rewards and treasure are found in heaven. Our eyes see the heavenly as good. We serve the Lord and seek after being people of righteousness who care for one another, pray, study and obey Scripture, and so what about the necessities of life?

And the thing that Jesus tells us here is to seek after God, to seek after what is eternal and trust God to provide for you. And He illustrates this a few ways.

First, Jesus discusses the attitudes of birds seemingly flying around gathering up what they need for the day without a worry in the world. They don’t worry about storing up things for tomorrow, they just do what needs to be done today and trust that everything will be the same tomorrow. Then He adds the rather sensible question,

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27 ESV)

Matthew 6:27 ESV

Medically speaking, worry does the opposite of adding time to your life. Worry decreases your span of life and can do so quite dramatically. And interestingly, who is it that can add an hour to your life? God can. God is sovereign and God is in control. Why are you anxious? Why are you worrying about food and drink?

Jesus goes on to discuss clothing. Why are you obsessing about clothing? Why is your clothing bringing you anxiety? God clothes the flowers in the field beautifully, which in that day were used to heat stoves for cooking when they died. With a lack of trees to burn the grass had to do in the stoves and so that’s what they did. Why are these things worrying you? God will take care of you. God knows what you need. God knows your every need.

And Jesus says something that is profound and challenging to us. He says that these are the things that the Gentiles are always seeking after. It is a way of saying, “shouldn’t you be acting different than the Gentiles?”. Shouldn’t your concern be different than that of the lost person down the street? If you are a Christian then you have been redeemed by God’s grace. You have been plucked out of this world and your greatest concerns should be for things other than what lost people’s greatest concern is for. You are different. You are redeemed.

Then, Jesus says the most profound thing here at the end.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33 ESV

CS Lewis once said,

“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Jesus is calling us to strive after godliness. He is calling us to store up our treasures in Heaven. When we look beyond the things of this world to God, who takes care of us, it’s not that we don’t have our needs met. It’s that we have faith in God enough to look to the world to come and God provides our needs.

How beautiful the thought! You live for what will last and God will provide your needs.

Does that mean we neglect working? No. Work is commanded in Scripture and is part of being faithful to the Lord. But our work is not our great end in life, so we want to make much of God through the way we work.

Does this mean that we don’t go to the grocery store and spend all of our time praying? Maybe in times of fasting, but not a general rule. We don’t have to go and buy the best of the best stuff and way more than we need. Our stomach is not our God, God is.

Does this mean that we can’t have a cell phone? No, but it does mean that we use the things we have in an appropriate way that glorifies God and are willing to part with it if it would mean that we could serve God better without it or be able to help someone because we didn’t have it.

And as we center our lives on what matters, God takes care of us. Jesus ends by saying not to be anxious about tomorrow, and just let tomorrow worry about itself.

Live for what matters. Live for what is eternal. Let that be your focus. Let that be your aim. Spend your energy and time on what will last.

R. Dwain Minor