Sermon on the Mount - Treasures

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount (Bible Study)

  • Next, Jesus continues to discuss some of the everyday concerns that might derail his disciples.
  • The first one has to do with treasures.
  • Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth….”
  • People have long believed that prosperity is a sign of God’s favor.
  • In an attempt to project wealth, some people accumulate treasures illegitimately.
  • This has always been denounced by prophetic voices.
  • Here, Jesus warns about accumulating earthly treasures.
  • They oftentimes give a false sense of security.
  • The Greek word for “Do not store” relates to “treasure.”
  • A literal translation would be: “Do not treasure up for yourselves treasure on earth.”
  • “Treasure” here means whatever is valuable to you.
  • It doesn’t have to mean just money.
  • It is whatever enslaves, whatever is sought that provides security.
  • Typically, however, treasure often does just the opposite.
  • Treasure creates a great deal of anxiety. People have to get more; they have to secure what they have.
  • Nonetheless, all earthly treasures are subject to destruction or loss.
  • There can be lots of problems with them; Jesus mentions three.
  • These are all examples of decay.
  • “Moth and rust destroy….”
  • A moth is nature’s corrosion. Even the tiniest moth can destroy the most elegant fabrics.
  • Rust really means “eating.”
  • Rust is time’s corrosion. Rust isn’t just a problem with metals; it can also destroy crops and vines as the chemicals eat them away.
  • Jesus is basically warning them not to obsess about clothing and food.
  • Moths and rust represent all the natural elements that render earthly treasures to break down and eventually lose their purpose.
  • A third concern is when “thieves break in and steal….”
  • Thieves are humanity’s corrosion; they take from others to benefit themselves.
  • There are more examples that Jesus might have used, but these three indicate the transitory nature of earthly treasures.
  • Jesus wants to liberate us from all that.
  • He wants to liberate us from a misspent life.
  • He is not trying to remove these desires; again, he is redirecting them.
  • He is saying, “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
  • Here again, the wording means, “Start treasuring treasures in heaven.”
  • “In heaven” is directly opposite to “on earth.” But it does not mean waiting for the afterlife.
  • “In heaven” can mean “with God,” so “treasuring heavenly treasures” means working with God at one’s side.
  • He does not specify what these treasures would be, but doing good for others is a main theme of the Sermon.
  • “Trust in heaven, be successful before the Father, please Him.”
  • He doesn’t try to quash the ambition to acquire treasures; he tries to elevate it.
  • He is truly appealing to the adventure of faith. This is not asceticism, it is athleticism.
  • He acknowledges the very close relationship between one’s heart and one’s treasure.
  • “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
  • The heart is not considered to be the center of feelings; it is the core of one’s being.
  • People thought of the heart much the same way we think today of the brain.
  • Their understanding of heart had to do with motive, direction, and source.
  • It is clear that one’s goals are often like gods.
  • If our goal is to impress people, then our center will be people and their admiration.
  • If our goal is to please the Father, then our center will be the Father and His honor.
  • Goals determine actions.
  • Goals, even the most laudable ones, have to be lodged in a real relationship with God. Otherwise, they are always subject to the disappointments of earthly decay.
  • Even the loftiest aspiration, if rooted in human esteem, is misspent.
  • Only a goal which seeks exclusively to please the Father is safe from human vanity and decay.

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