#1 New Series: "Rules For The Redeemed"




TEXT:         Matt. 6:19-24


INTRO:       Jesus spoke 37 parables that we have recorded in the Bible, of these, 17 or almost half of them were about money and possessions and the use of material things.  Why so much attention by Jesus about money issues?  There is nothing that impacts and touches our lives more in every way than material "STUFF" ... money affects every area of our life!  It is no wonder Jesus spent a great deal of time and teaching on this subject.


The really valuable things in life however cannot be bought, but do require our time and energy to achieve them.  An old saying goes like this: “MONEY WILL BUY A DOG, BUT ONLY LOVE WILL MAKE HIM WAG HIS TAIL!”  Fortunately money has little to do with happiness and fulfillment, which is why the poor sometimes find greater joy in life, and why the rich can be lonely and empty!


While we affirm this great truth, I wonder how many of us really practice what we believe ... does your lifestyle put a greater emphasis on spiritual realities or on the physical realities?  Are you so busy making a living on earth that you are not storing up any treasure in heaven?  How available are you for ministry or for building relation­ships?


In these 2 chapters of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus speaks on several subjects ... all relating to "RULES FOR THE REDEEMED."  They are:


1.   The Money Rule

2.   The Worry Rule

3.   The Judgment Rule

4.   The Prayer Rule

5.   The Golden Rule

6.   The Fruitful Rule


These will be the studies we will conduct over the next 6 messages; first we look at the "Money Rule."


PROP. SENT:  The Bible teaches us to be careful to store up treasures of a spiritual nature while we are busy living life on earth ... there is more than just the material realm to invest in.  There is a worse poverty than that of money, it is spiritual poverty!


I.  SECURITY MOTIVATED    Matt. 6:19-21


A.   Investments    Matt. 6:19-21

1.   Jesus is not teaching against making wise investments materially, it is good to plan for a financial future, what Jesus is teaching against is the absence of making spiritual investments and focusing life toward material investments alone!

2.   Why do people make material investments? To secure their future!

a.    This being so, if we are willing to work hard to secure a temporal future for some 20-3O years tops, what about the eternal future where we will live forever!?

b.    It would take a nut to spend all their money on an investment that would return very low yields for only a short time when they could have much more of a return for a longer period of time in something else!

c.    If we are really security conscience we should be thinking about our long term security!

3.   Putting all our energy into material investments may take care of the here and now, but we may be sacrificing an important future blessing!


ILLUS:      The butterfly “Maculinea arion” has a unique relationship with a special ant.  The eggs are laid on a leafy plant, and after hatching and eating for several weeks it drops to the ground.  In order to complete its lifecycle it must meet the right type of ant.  When such meetings occur, the caterpillar is stroked by the ants’ antennae causing a special gland on its 10th segment that secretes a sweet substance the ants just love.  Once the ants get the sweet substance they hurry to get help and take and carry the caterpillar to their underground home, where they spend their lives milking it all the time like we do cows.  The ants spend a great deal of energy and time taking care of the caterpillar ... the story might be happy if ended there, but tragically, the caterpillar at this stage of the cycle loves to eat ant larvae, so while the adult ants benefit from the sweet milk of this caterpillar, it is eating away the ants’ future ... they are left with no future generation and the ants’ investment to this caterpillar costs them their future, though they enjoy a pleasant present life!  After winter, the caterpillar emerges as a butterfly and flies away leaving behind some very poor ants, and starts the cycle all over again! – Source Unknown


4.   For whom energy and resources are spent only on the things of this world they will discover that while life in the here and now might have seemed pleasant eternity will be rather poor!

5.   We should be careful to take inventory of how we invest, and in what we invest!

a.    Don't forget to secure the long range future!

b.    Be wise in investments.


B.   "Interest"    Matt. 6:21

1.   How do you know if you are not investing enough or wisely?

a.    Where is your heart?

b.    Jesus clearly identifies a marker for us to know if we are on the proper track with material things ... where is our heart, our desires?

2.   Does spiritual things take a back seat to material things?

3.   Are you so busy making a living that you are not building a life?

4.   Do you find that the things of God take a low priority to other things in life?

5.   What are you passionate about?

6.   All investments yield interest ... including spiritual ones, they yield the highest interest rates and a guarantee that even the FDIC can't match!


ILLUS:     A wealthy woman reached heaven and was taken to her "mansion" ... it was just a plain house.  Across the street from her house was a beautiful mansion more wonderful than any on earth.  She protested the plain house of hers by asking, "Whose fine mansion across the street is that?"  The answer shocked her, "that is your earthly gardener’s home here in heaven."  She continued, "How is it that he gets a house so much grandeur than mine, he was just a gardener?"  The response was instructive, "The houses up here are built from the materials that were sent up here during your lifetime on earth, we do not choose them, and we build them with what you sent up as spiritual material!  You were so busy building on earth that you made very few invest­ments up here!" – Source Unknown


7.   It is quite interesting that these verses say to lay up this treasure "FOR YOURSELF."

a.    Self interest is not condemned here ... it is encouraged, this is something you can do for yourself to help insure your future!

b.    This is not a works for salvation passage, but it does demonstrate the importance of how we handle the physical realm and its impact on the spiritual realities!


ILLUS:     "How we use our money demonstrates the reality of our love for God.  In some ways it proves our love more conclusively than depth of knowledge, length of prayers, or prominence of service.  These things can be feigned, but the use of possessions shows us up for what we actually are!" – Charles Caidwell Ryrie "Balancing the Christian life"


II.  SINGLE MINDED    Matt. 6:22-24


A.   Illumination     Matt. 6:22-23

1.   The point of this part of the passage deals with the ancient custom of viewing the eyes as the source of light for the body; the ancients believed that if the eyes were good the body was bathed in light that brought healing to the body.  If the eyes were not good the whole body was plunged into darkness and disease resulted.  Jesus picks up on this and uses the point metaphorically to say that if our EYES are on spiritual dynamics our whole physical existence will be whole and balanced, if not we are plunged into spiritual darkness as a result and are not likely to be healthy spiritually!

a.    This is a powerful statement by Jesus on the issue of materialism!

b.    Jesus is saying that those who do not discipline their lives to include an emphasis on using material things to build the kingdom of God they are not likely to be spiritually healthy or able to be spiritually perceptive!

c.    They are "blinded" spiritually if they are not laying up treasures in heaven!

d.    It affects the whole of our lives, and the perceptions we have!

2.   Our ability to see “clearly” is deeply affected by what we have our "eyes" focused on!

a.    It is tragic when Christians take pride in their earthy possessions and have little spiritual riches to show for it!

b.    To gain the world and lose one’s soul is a great poverty!


ILLUS:     In A.D. 1260 St. Thomas Aquinas visited Pope Innocent IV.  The Pope showed him all the wealth of the Catholic Church, its gold and silver.  He showed him the magnificent jeweled buildings and artifacts and while touring the Pope remarked, "So you see, good Thomas, unlike the first Pope, Peter, I cannot say, ‘silver and gold have I none.’  Thomas agreed with the Pope, but then added, “And neither can you say, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise up and walk!’” – Source Unknown


c.    The church’s finest testimonies are not its buildings and possessions ... and that is also true of the believer!

3.   This world's stuff offers no lasting benefit to our eternal existence except for when it is used in a way that builds spiritual dynamics in people's lives!


ILLUS:     For instance, money will buy a bed, but not sleep; books, but not brains; food, but not an appetite; a house, but not a home; medicine, but not health; amusement but not happiness; finery, but not beauty; a crucifix, but not a Savior! – Source Unknown


4.   It is important that we see clearly!


B.   Illusion!     Matt. 6:24

1.   Jesus' final point about the money rule is very important; those who believe it is possible to serve both Christ and money are told that it is not possible!

2.   It is not possible to be a slave for God and also for money!

a.    This is not a prohibition against becoming rich and successful by this world's standards...

b.    But it is a prohibition against selling your soul to get rich ... or an inordinate emphasis on material things!

3.   Money makes a great servant but a terrible master!

4.   Those that have pursued material things or power at the expense of their soul have discovered the illusion that riches offer as happiness:


ILLUS:     In the June 14, 1968 issue of "LIFE MAGAZINE" a picture appeared of young David Kennedy sitting outside the White House looking back at it.  The picture had been taken years before by his Aunt Jacqueline and was inscribed with the words from his famous Uncle the president, John Kennedy with these words, "A future president inspects his property."  David Kennedy had status, wealth, fame; and a possible future position of power.  Yet in 1984 at the age of 28 he was found dead by his own hand, he had not found peace or value in life!  The illusion of this world's goods had taken its toll on a bright young man's life! – Source Unknown


5.   If only David Kennedy had had the teaching and opportunity to discover the eternal investments that yield so much pleasure and satisfaction!  The pressures of living up to the material pressures were too much!  Those “THINGS” were a hard task master!


ILLUS:    0. J. Simpson gave an interesting interview to a reporter from "PEOPLE MAGAZINE" in one of its 1978 issues.  He said about money and material things; "I sit in my house in Buffalo and sometimes I get so lonely it's unbelievable.  Life has been so good to me.  I've got a great wife, good kids, money, my own health ... and I'm lonely and bored, I often wondered why so many rich people commit suicide.  Money sure isn't a cure-all." – Source Unknown


6.   Sometimes we tell ourselves how wonderful life would be if we were only rich!

a.    Yet, many who are rich are very miserable!

b.    With riches come new temptations!

c.    Riches can demand a great deal of time and energy ... thus taking away from other spiritual ventures.

d.    Don't buy an illusion when you can have the real thing!

7.   It’s nice to have social security ... but how is your spiritual security?

8.   What are you really serving? ... What takes your time and talents, what demands your resources and efforts the most?  What master are you serving!

9.   Jesus warns his followers to beware of the MONEY RULE for the redeemed!

10. Master it, don't be mastered by it!


CONCLUSION:    What are the most important things in your life?  This is answered by the invest­ments or our time, talents, and resources.  Where your passion exists is where your investments go.  Is Christianity more a hobby tacked onto your life or is it the consuming passion of your life?  The dividends both here and in eternity will reflect the extent of the investments we make in this life!  INVEST WISELY!