TEXT: Matt. 6:5-6; 19-21
INTRO: It is interesting to note that there are a number of “Paralleling Contrasts” in the Bible. What I mean by this are things that seem similar; but contrast with each in meaning. For instance; in the very beginning we have Satan coming to tempt Adam and Eve with an invitation “take and eat - and so the first Adam brought death. The 2nd Adam Jesus comes later and invites the disciples to “take and eat” and it brings life. These are parallel invitations with contrasting results.
I actually became a “spiritual oxymoron” several years ago when I was asked to come back to my home district (German) and preach their family camp as the main speaker. This was the same place as a kid where I had scrubbed floors at 2 a.m. due to my “disciplinary” issues; and spent many hours with German counselors telling me how bad my life choices were; and how my constant “breakouts” out of our cabin at night would land me in trouble! And now I was “Dennis Marquardt” - visiting district superintendent and camp speaker, the same camp I terrorized as a kid and teenager! I started the opening service at camp with these words, “Brothers and Sisters … I stand before you as a living oxymoron!” Meaning of course that while I’m the same person at the same camp, now years later many things are different! One of the old German counselors I used to give a hard time to as a kid remarked, “See, God can do anything!”
In Jesus’ teaching about prayer we see something very odd, it is lost in most translations of the Bible - Jesus asking us to pray “among our treasurers” while at the same time teaching us not to value the treasures of this earth.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to have a private prayer life that is an important part of our relationship with God.
I. CLOSET LIFE! Matt. 6:5-6
A. The Room Matt. 6:6
1. Instead of “coming out of the closet” Jesus teaches us to “go into one.” (An oxymoron from this world for sure!)
2. The Greek word here for “closet” is “temeion” which literally translates as "treasure room!"
a. It was a secret room in every home where the family's treasurers were kept for safety reasons – there were few banks in antiquity!
b. It was a secure room designed to keep safe ones' treasures from thieves!
c. For this reason, it was a room usually known only to the family members with a secret entrance!
d. Poor people who could not afford such a room in their homes resorted to burying treasures in unmarked places on their lands. Hence the story Jesus used about “finding a pearl of great price buried in the ground.” Families with good homes had “temeions” … or secret treasure rooms.
3. Here a man would go from time to time to be around his treasures and contemplate his wealth; it was the room where security was found!
4. It is this “treasure room” (KJV calls it a “closet”) that Jesus says we are to enter when we pray!
a. Kind of an odd request - Jesus wants us to pray in the midst of our valuables!?
b. Odd because it would at first seem like the place where our strongest distractions would happen, around our wealth!
5. A few verses later the statement by Jesus in Matt. 6:21 where He expresses this thought, “laying up treasures in Heaven” may play into this “treasure room” idea!
6. Today in modern Greece, the “temeion” is
the cashier in a store, office, or bank.
The Greek word translated "closet" in some translations is still in use in
the modern nation of
7. It is ironic that Jesus would choose this room to be the place or prayer ... especially in light of all the problems such treasure rooms caused in the past - or maybe it makes more sense than it seems!
a. Notice that the
b. Hezekiah got into trouble because he took allies into the treasure room in God’s Temple and took pride in how much he had - forgetting God in such a room can be easy, unless of course we take God in there with us, otherwise all we will see is our “treasure.”
c. The Ethiopian
Eunuch is described as the “Treasurer of
Candice, Queen of
d. Judas held the treasure for the disciples and we know where his focus went! In the very midst of being with Jesus his mind was on earthly treasures.
e. Matthew had been a tax collector, he was actually sitting in his booth with his cash when Jesus said to him, “Follow me” and it says he got up and walked away from it all - he quickly changed the focus off his wealth. (Matt. 9:9) & (Luke 5:27- says “he left everything.”)
f. Zacchaeus (whose name means “pure”) was wealthy but did everything he could to get to Jesus, and later considered his own wealth nothing! Isn’t it interesting that Jesus went to his home where he likely stored his wealth! (Lk. 19:1-9)
g. We know that all Israel suffered because of Achan (Josh. 7) … he stole the riches of Caanan and buried them in his tent - his crude attempt at a “temeion,” but these riches were the wrong riches in the midst of Israel and it cost him his life and many others.
8. Our treasures need Christ's presence or we will forget Him!
8. God wants to be invited into our “treasure room” where we can commune with Him!
a. We should not be uncomfortable with Jesus' presence among our treasures, unless of course we have improper treasures stored there, or we are hoarding them and not sharing with God and man!
b. If He is in our “treasure room” we are not nearly as likely to focus on treasures as we are to commune with him, and it doesn’t take much treasure to see only yourself instead of God!
ILLUS: AN OLD RICH MAN WAS MISERABLE ... SO HE SOUGHT OUT A WISE OLD RABBI FOR ADVICE. HE TOLD THE RABBI HE WAS UNHAPPY THOUGH RICH AND HE ASKED WHY? THE WISE RABBI TOOK HIM BY THE HAND OVER TO A WINDOW AND ASKED HIM WHAT HE SAW! DOWN BELOW WAS A PARK AND HE SAID, "I SEE CHILDREN PLAYING AND FAMILY'S HAVING PICNICS … THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!" NEXT HE TOOK HIM BY THE HAND OVER TO A MIRROR AND ASKED HIM WHAT HE SAW NOW! THE RICH MAN RESPONDED, "ALL I SEE IS MYSELF NOW!" THE RABBI EXPLAINED, THE WINDOW AND THE MIRROR ARE MADE OF THE SAME THING ... GLASS, BUT AS SOON AS YOU ADD A LITTLE SILVER TO IT ALL YOU CAN SEE IS YOURSELF AND NO ONE ELSE! THE MAN WAS ALONE WITH HIS TREASURES ... SOMEONE ELSE NEEDED TO COME INTO THAT TREASURE ROOM OF HIS! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
1. Focus must go off of treasures to Christ! This is why we are told by Jesus to go into this room to pray, to take the focus off of our treasures and put it on Christ! (Seems crazy to go into a room full of treasures to lose focus on them - but having Christ in the midst of the room will change the focus off of the stuff to Him!)
a. In a treasure room a man is focused on what he had, not on what he didn't have!
b. If he was alone in there with only his treasures, this is all he thought about!
2. Christ's presence in our treasure room will guard our hearts against improper attitudes toward earthly treasures!
ILLUS: LIKE THE LITTLE BOY NAMED BRIAN WHO WAS AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY AND WHEN THE TIME CAME TO SERVE THE CAKE HE BLURTED OUT, "I WANT THE BIGGEST PIECE!"... THIS BROUGHT MOM'S PRESENCE IN QUICKLY AND SHE ATTEMPTED TO CORRECT THE EMBARRASSMENT BY TEACHING BRIAN THIS: "BRIAN, IT IS NOT POLITE TO ASK FOR THE BIGGEST PIECE OF CAKE." NO SOONER WAS THIS OVER HOWEVER WHEN BRIAN ASKED LOUDLY, "WELL THEN, HOW DO YOU GET THE BIGGEST PIECE!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Only mom’s presence could keep the situation in hand - hence Jesus' request that we use this room to pray in rather than just focus on our earthly treasures; to keep our attitudes in check with God's presence in the very room that might lead to pride!
a. Having Christ enter this room by prayer might also help us realize what treasures need to be cleared out!
b. This was a real sign of trust to bring someone else into this room, it was the secret room after all - to invite someone's presence in this room was a display of absolute trust in that person with all your treasures!
4. All this ties in closely with Matthew 6:19-21 and the idea of “treasure” in verse 21: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!”
a. In this passage the word “treasure” here relays the idea of laying up eternal things rather than earthly things.
b. Jesus understood the connection between our heart and treasures ... that's why He wants entrance to this room!
II. CLOSET LIMITS! Matt. 6:19-21
A. New Room!
1. Jesus adds something new here - move the treasure room or closet to a new location!
a. To heaven!
b. This way Christ can rule over it, and we can still come in prayer to visit it ... but here it is safe from robbers! And since it is in heaven we must come in a spiritual way to enter into a spiritual realm!
2. He also instructs us to change the treasures we store, from earthly things to heavenly stuff!
3. This will preserve a "secret place" from Satan's attempts to break in and steal, he won't find this room or our treasures because he has no access to God’s dwelling place!
4. Having a new room for treasures and new treasures will adjust our focus from an earthly one to a heavenly one!
a. Focus is so important in our lives!
b. This is why Jesus wanted prayer in this room in the first place, to change the focus off of our treasures to Him!
EINSTEIN NEAR THE END OF HIS LIFE HAD TWO VERY PROMINENT PAINTINGS REMOVED FROM
A VERY PRESTIGIOUS PLACE IN HIS HOME AND REPLACED WITH TWO NEW PAINTINGS VERY
DIFFERENT. THE TWO PROMINENT
PAINTINGS WERE OF VERY SUCCESSFUL SCIENTISTS,
5. Our prayer closet now is transformed!
B. New Location! Matt. 6:21
1. Notice to the location changes for this room - to heaven!
a. Now when we want to save valuables and enter our "closet" or “treasure room” - we go right into God's presence!
b. Instead of us worrying about the security of all the treasures, God can watch over it all, thus freeing us to commune with Him fully!
2. Moving the secret place to heaven was a brilliant idea to free us to fellowship with Christ unencumbered by fears and pride!
3. Since our heart seems to always be focused in the place of our treasures, how much more sense to have those treasures in heaven anyways so that our heart stays there too!
4. Someday perhaps this treasure room will be included in our mansion in Heaven, still full of those treasures we put there and our full communion with Christ directly in it!
5. If our treasure room is now in heaven, when we enter it we come right into God's domain and Christ meets us there!
a. Since our “heart is where our treasures are” - we must be sure to have Christ come into this room!
b. Now we can enter our "prayer closet" or “treasure room” - not only is our heart there but so is the master!
CONCLUSION: HAVE YOU ENTERED YOUR “PRAYER CLOSET” the “treasure room!” AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HAS CHRIST BEEN ALLOWED IN TOO? When you enter your “treasure room” are you alone, or do you have company in there?