It has been a rainy week and within this rainy week, this is like, most of the time, you will miss somebody or you will yearn for those people you hold you hold dear. And in 2009, Owl City released a song titled If My Heart Was A House. It is a love song about yearning to be close to someone he loves. He compares her to the true north of the compass which guides his heart and promises that he will catch her if she would fall stating that in the last line of the chorus “if my heart was a house you’d be home.” Some would say a home is not a place but a person, one can have the grandest mansion, but without the person or the people whom they hold dear, it will never feel home. When we need to be apart for some time, we long to see them again because they have a special place in their hearts. In other words, home is where the heart is. It is not our possessions that make our home but the people we hold dear.
But as Christians, heaven is our home. But it will never be our home if God is not there. What makes heaven, heaven, and what makes heaven a home is that God our creator and redeemer is there. Home is where our God is. We can say that God is everywhere but specifically God is in heaven. And that is the very reason why it must capture our hearts’ deepest desire in our devotion. This way, His name will be made holy and His kingdom will come on Earth as it is in heaven by His work through us. Turn with me to our passage this morning that is Matthew chapter 6 verse 19 to 24. Matthew chapter 6 verse 19 to 24 and I’ll be reading from the English Standard Version. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. May the Lord add blessing to the reading of His word.
So after addressing the actions which can be immediately known as sin, Christ begins to show us that we can also sin even in performing acts of righteousness. We may be reminded of Matthew chapter 5 verse 16 when Christ commands let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. But, akala ko ba ‘let your light shine before men.’ The problem here is hypocrisy. That is being an actor pretending to please God but ultimately trying to gain the approval of men. So in chapter 6 verse 1 to 18, He corrects the motivation of His disciples in performing acts of righteousness which were the important to the Jews of that time. So Christ points out that through piety or true righteousness flows that from a desire to be recognized and be rewarded by men, but a desire to please God who will graciously reward. You can trace with your finger in the whole chapter what seems like a chorus that Christ repeats: your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
But what does Christ want to point out? Bakit paulit-ulit na para Siyang chorus? He simply wants us to understand that His people are not to be attention-seekers or people-pleasers, but are those who will seek the advancement of God’s kingdom and those who aim to please our Heavenly Father. We must not give to be applauded by the crowd, but out of our love for God and compassion to help the poor and needy, we are to give in secrecy, so that the recipient of the help will praise God for such gracious provision. We must not pray to be seen but sincerely ask God for our every need. Our prayer should not be meaningless repetitions because our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and knows what we need before we even ask. The reward is that we’ll enjoy intimate relationship or intimate communion with our Father. Our wills will be aligned to Him and will enjoy His provision as we pray: give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins and lead us not a temptation.
Fasting that was talked about last week, should be done for God’s glory not to be a publicity stunt, than to seek attention nor to be a status symbol that signifies that one is religious or highly devout. God’s people must not fast to man but to God. Ultimately, the reward is God Himself, that He makes Himself known and He gives assurance that we are His. This also implies that the very cure for hypocrisy is this: that the Father, our Father knows us, He sees us, He understands our every needs and He will graciously reward those who sincerely aim to please Him. And after addressing hypocrisy, He addresses another problem which is anxiety. But before giving us the cure for anxiety, He goes back again to the issue of the heart that is our tendency to be excessively dependent on material possessions rather than on God. This leads us to my message this morning to you. That God is the believer’s greatest possession deserving of wholehearted devotion. Again, God is the believer’s greatest possession the serving of wholehearted devotion. Ang Diyos ang Pinakamahalagang Pag-aari ng isang Mananampalataya, Karapat-dapat ng Buong Pusong Debosyon. And to expound this will, tackle two points: firstly, The Pilgrims Cherished Possession. Pinakamamahal na Pag-aari ng Isang Peregrino. Secondly, Slaves Wholehearted Devotion, Buong Pusong Debosyon Ng Isang Alipin.
Firstly, let’s tackle the first point, Pilgrims Cherished Possession, Pinakamamahal na Pag-aari ng Isang Peregrino. You see here that Christ firstly instructs His disciple not to store up treasures on Earth, but to store up treasures in heaven. Inutusan ni Kristo ang Kaniyang mga alagad na mag-imbak ng kayamanan sa langit kaysa sa lupa. Now this is a disclaimer when Christ commands us not to store treasures on Earth, this doesn’t mean that Christ forbids us from owning anything, since we are commanded in a decalogue that we should not steal, so to acquire goods lawfully is good. We must remember that in the same way, God provides us with vocations or work. And when we work in obedience to Him, we earn wages that help us to sustain our needs as we live on earth. He also does not forbid us from saving up in preparation for emergencies or to fund something with our family needs like a house, tuition fees, clothes, foods or vacations if God providentially allows us to have money to save. What Christ meant here is that we should not hoard for ourselves material possessions like the rich fool. The reason is it does not last. It can be corrupted and destroyed by moth and rust and it can be easily taken away from us. On the other hand, Christ commands us to store for ourselves treasures in heaven, to be rich in graces and good works, advancing His kingdom, increasing our assurance that we are in Christ for the reward is none other than God and His kingdom. It is one that will never get corrupted, it will never be destroyed and will never be taken away from us.
Why then should we prioritise heavenly treasures over Earthly treasures? Christ states the reason. The main reason Christ says is that where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Now what is the heart? In Hebrew literature it is the seat of our mind, of emotions and our will. It is where we make sense of the world and where we feel emotions, and where we make choices that is as it is motivated by our desires. In other words, whatever we value directs our life because we will see the world in light of what we treasure. Whatever we value occupies our mind by cherishing and longing for it in our thoughts. It affects how we feel as we measure our satisfaction in it. It affects our will as it becomes the reason behind every choice. In effect, our life will be spent on gaining and enjoying whatever we love.
This is what Augustine meant when he called human beings homo liturgicus or liturgical being. We are by nature worshipers, shape and fashioned more by what we love than by what we know. We’re not primarily thinkers if you have that notion. Hindi tayo una bilang isang taong nag-iisip. Tayo ay tao na nagmamahal. We are lovers first before we are thinkers. As a result, what we love orients our lives towards certain goals or visions. This is to show us that preoccupation with the riches we have in God through Christ, draws us away from seeking fulfillment in the world. Ang pagkakaabala sa mga kayamanan na mayroon tayo sa Diyos kay Kristo ay naglalayo sa atin sa paghahanap ng kaligayahan sa mundong ito. Now, if we spend our time and talents and treasures to build a kingdom of our own here on Earth, it will weaken our love for God and we will begin to slowly find our identity, our security and satisfaction not in God, but in that sand castle that we built; sand castle because it will easily crumble. We will never consider life without that sand castle.
Our thoughts will be consumed by finding ways to gain more of this world. Money will be the primary motivation behind every action. Whatever means necessary to sustain our kingdom. Then when it is taken away from us, we grumble, we worry, yet we still do whatever is necessary to rebuild it hoping that we will be satisfied. But at the end you will never be satisfied. Question is this: is this God’s will for the one who professes to believe in Him to spend and be spent for the world? The answer is no. A ransomed life through the blood of Christ must spend and be spent for God, the advancement of His kingdom. You see the three sayings are it’s hard to exegete because it comes from different stories. But Matthew actually puts it that way in order for us to understand something. What I said earlier, Christ illustrates the truth as he gives the two types of eyes: the healthy eye and the bad eye. Now to understand this, we must go back to its cultural context: the ancient Greek understanding of vision is extramission it’s that the eye has its own light and it projects light towards all direction. Now the concept of intromission is something new. Intromission meaning light shines into the body, light shines through the eye and into the body. So to hear this coming from Jesus is surprising to those who, those ancient hearers. Christ says the eye is the lamp, source of light which brings light into the body. So the eye here is being synonymous to the heart. The eye is seen as a window by which light enters the body. The light pertains to the knowledge of God which brings understanding. The state of the body pertains to its spiritual health.
Now William Barclay puts it this way: “the eye is regarded as the window by which light enters the light, the light gets into the whole body. The state of a window decides what light gets into a room. If the window is clear, clean and undistorted, the light will come flooding into the room and will eliminate every corner of it. If the glass of the window is coloured or frosted, distorted, dirtier, obscure, the light will be hindered and the room will not build up the amount of light which gets into any room depends on the state of the window through which it has to pass. So then, says Jesus the light which gets into any man’s heart and soul and being depends on the spiritual state of the eye through which it has to pass for the eye is the window of the whole body.”
Now, if the eye is bad, light does not easily enter. The heart becomes like that of a thorny soil if you’re familiar with the parable of the soil. One who hears the word but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves and unfruitful. Christ says that this will cause the body to be full of darkness, that is moral or spiritual darkness leading to destruction. Now the bad-eyed person cannot discern correctly. He cannot discern what, which are the true and lasting treasures so he chooses evil rather than what is good. He exchanges temporal gain for eternal gain. He recognises things that must be avoided as things that has to be accepted. And since every choice is not led by God’s word but led by sinful desires, He prioritises self over God which results in a life that is without order, a breeding ground for anxiety shown in a life of worldliness manifested by greed and envy.
The problem is that greed is silent and it hides itself under the pretense of deciding what’s good until it blinds us. Now this is our hopeless and helpless state without the gospel of Christ. We are blinded by our greed to soar up Earthly treasures as motivated by our envy of others’ material possessions. We live in this world thinking that this is the only life we’ll ever have. Thinking that when we gain everything, we will be satisfied only to find out that’s not the case, that’s not true.
Brothers sisters and friends, the gospel rescues us from our blindness and makes us see that this is not the only life we’ll ever have. It makes us see that there are more pressing matters we need to consider. It makes us consider the state of our very soul. That we are sinners the serving of God’s wrath and needing of God’s mercy. Now, do you want to see what awaits you? If you are not in Christ, you have to look at the cross as the wrath of God was poured out in Christ. This is the the destiny of a sinner. The wrath of God is poured out to him eternally in hell. But God sent His only Son, fully God and fully man to live a sinless life to die on the cross that whoever will repent and believe in the gospel, will have their sins forgiven and will be reconciled with God. Do you want to see what awaits a sinner that repents? Look to the cross as the wrath of God was satisfied by Christ. Only love is poured out to repentant sinner and he will be in fellowship with God forever. From this day onwards, from this day that he has repented to the words the glorification. Now if you are not in Christ and you understand that you are a sinner, you understand that you need a Savior and from your sins like greed and envy, brothers and sisters friends, I ask that you may repent and believe in the gospel only through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit through God’s word can our eyes be made healthy or clear.
Now when the eye is healthy, light enters easily which fills the body with light. The clear-eyed person is able to discern correctly as he is led by God’s wisdom through His word. He understands that life is not about amassing wealth. He understands that lasting treasures can only be found in God through Christ. Now what are these treasures you ask? Thomas Brooks in his book The Unsearchable Riches of Christ writes: In Christ are the riches of justification that we are rescued from the penalty of sin. The riches of sanctification that we’re being rescued from the power of sin. The riches of consolation or comfort that we are assured by His word and promises as we live here on Earth as we combat our sins. And the riches of glorification, but on that final day we will be rescued from the presence of sin. Now if we understand that, our significance, our security and satisfaction are to be found in Christ alone. Everything that is world offers will not last. One may be financially secure now but it can easily be lost.. death, disease and disasters can take it all away. If you die, whatever you have collected, it will be left behind. If you are sick, whatever you have, you cannot enjoy. Disasters can easily diminish the value of what we have to nothing. Ultimately, God doesn’t even measure us by our possessions. Riches cannot justify us in the sight of God. No number of possessions can bring comfort to the soul in light of the coming judgment or in our battle against sin, in our sanctification. Yes, it can ensure our properties, but it cannot assure our soul. If we acknowledge this truths, we are to order our life to be rich towards God shown in a life characterised by generosity and contentment in service to God and others.
We are but pilgrims passing by on a journey towards heaven where our greatest treasure is. God is there and He is the pilgrims’ cherished possession. This calls us to remain watchful because our sinful hearts may still betray us. Greed and envy may creep in again as we let our hearts be captivated by the lust of the world rather than it being captivated by Christ. The challenge then for us is this: Guard Your Heart Against Worldly Lust By Being Rich Towards God. Ingatan ang iyong puso laban sa makamundong pagnanasa sa pamamagitan ng pagiging mayaman sa Diyos. Paul warned that those who give in to their greed are lured into a trap. They’re tempted into many senseless and harmful desires which plunge them into ruin and destruction. They’re trying to satisfy their cravings for money. Some abandoned their faith and in doing so, they set themselves up for disappointment. They pierce themselves with many sorrows.
You see, the poor, face the same temptation as the rich to place their hope in money. But James reminds us that they both must set their hope in Christ. James chapter 1 verses 9 to 10 it says Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, that he the lowly, the poor has the riches of Christ, and the rich in his humiliation, that the rich are not made significant because of their riches or their wealth, but because they have Christ, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. The question is: “do we have a firm grip on our Earthly possession? Or do we have a firm grip on our possession of Christ? As heaven- bound pilgrims, we must handle our material possessions with loose grip as our hearts are fixed on the world to come. We are to treasure the riches of Christ over the riches of this world for what will profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Do we prioritise Earthly riches over heavenly treasures? do we think in light of eternity or in light of the present only? As parents, when we raise children, is it our priority to make them achievers, CEOs, great people in the society, or is our priority to raise them as followers of Christ? As married couples, do we prioritise the sanctification of our husband or wife? Even if you are single, do you help in the sanctification of other believers as a community in the church? Are we sensitive to the needs of the local church? Do we give as one has decided in his heart not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver? You see, generosity and gratitude helps us mortify our greed by acknowledging that God owns what we have which was given to us by grace as we spend and are spent for the advancement of the kingdom.
In one moment of John Wesley’s life, Wesley had just finished buying some pictures. He is an art collector. He bought some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was winter so and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reach then into his pocket to give her some money for a coat so that she can buy a coat and he found out that he had little money left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: will thy master say well done good and faithful steward.. thou has adorned by walls with money that might have screened these poor creature from the cold. Oh justice, oh mercy.. are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid? Now this motivated John Wesley to limit his expenses so he would give more money to to the poor. And if you’re familiar with the the phrase ‘when God raises your standard of living, increase your standard of uh giving.’ John Wesley actually practiced that to the point that he gave most of his royalties by uh writing songs and preaching. He gives most of his royalties to the poor. Now, we give not primarily to gain, but in light of the giver who is rich but became poor that we may be spiritually rich. By his example we came to know that in losing, there is gain. For if the Father kept His Son, then we will all suffer loss.
We have learned how storing treasures in heaven draws us away from seeking fulfillment in the world. Now, let us learn why complete devotion is needed. Let us tackle the second point or the last Point Slaves’ Wholehearted Devotion. Buong pusong debosyon ng isang alipin. Christ asserts here that it is impossible to serve two masters. Pinaliwanag ni Kristo na imposibleng maglingkod sa dalawang panginoon. In verse 24, Christ answers someone who thinks that they can seek both God and riches by comparing it to slavery to two conflicting masters. Now you know the concept of slavery. To be a slave meant being someone’s property having no rights or will of his own. The slave cannot own anything for even the fruit of the labor is owned by his master. The slave cannot do what he wishes to do or go anywhere he wishes to go. His master holds absolute authority over him and can force him to do what he or she wills for his master’s pleasure. This is to point out that wholehearted devotion to God preserves His people a light to a dark world. Ang buong pusong debosyon sa Diyos ay nagpapanatili sa Kanyang bayan bilang liwanag sa makasalanang mundo. What Christ meant here is that it is impossible to please two masters who have different desires. Each master will command the slave in different and competing directions. One will command you to walk by faith, the other to walk by sight. One commands you to find your all in Him, the other demands that you may find your life that life may be all about possessions. One says love as I have loved sacrificially and serve as I had served humbly, the other demands love only yourself and serve only yourself. We can only have one ultimate priority. We will hate one and love the other. We will be devoted to one, we will hold fast one and we will despise or think little of the other. You see, this can be linked again to that illustration that Christ has given: that is the illustration of the eye. The word healthy or haplous (in Greek) can be translated as clear or single. If you want to test, if you can focus on two things at the same time, you can just point your fingers, put them together, and then start them start drifting away. Now if you can focus I thought the two things at the same time then maybe you have to check yourself. But if you can do that, that’s the truth is still true. So, you cannot focus on two things at the same time. This means that those who have a single focus to God will prove useful for God and His kingdom for only then, they can only be truly useful when they reflect the light of Christ. Moreover, the double- minded slave will not be able to please God for he’s guilty of idolatry.
Augustine puts it this way: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped.” Now what is idolatry’s effect on the heart? We can just go to Romans 1 21 that is the darkening of the heart. Those who once possessed light blinded by greed and envy, will love Mammon and hate God. They will be devoted to Mammon and will think little of God. They will have their light turn into darkness as they continue with their idolatry. You may take note of Demas. And this is a warning that the greed which is idolatry can lead to apostasy. You see, Richard Lints explains in his book Identity And Idolatry that idolatry is not merely an intellectual error. It’s not based on ignorance or like true or false. But it is especially a matter of the heart, a desire to control one’s destiny to have gods that were more like them and who could easily be manipulated, run deep in man’s heart. It is the sinful desire for fulfillment of our deepest longing for significance and for security that drives our idolatry. In light of this, we need to remember who Jesus is. He is not only our Savior but also He is our Lord. Through Christ’s personal work, we are freed from our slavery, from sin under the tyranny of the devil and by His work, He transfers us from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light. We come under a new master, Jesus Christ the Lord. And as a result, we are made slaves of Christ.
But what about John 15 15? It says there that we’re friends. Well, Christ was talking there that uh we’re not like slaves who do not know the plans of their Master. That’s why He called the disciples His friend. But what about Galatians chapter 4 verse 7 which states that we are not slaves but kids or children of God? Uh, well, Paul was talking about how we were once enslaved by the principles of the world and until the Christ event has happened, we are now able to repent and believe in Christ. We are now made uh children of God in light of the Gospel. But in light of obedience, He is our Lord that’s our relationship with Christ. And as slaves of God, we are to live in the light of the truth of His word under His lordship. And in obedience to our Lord, we are to preserved as light to this dark world. As we walk in the light, we are to acknowledge any sin or idols that the light exposes. We are to repent and seek God’s will in enabling grace to mortify any sin and cast away any idol so that we might cultivate its opposite graces and commit our lives to Christ. Now as devoted slaves and grateful slaves, the challenge for us is this: to make pleasing God our life’s ultimate priority..gawing pangunahing prayoridad ng iyong buhay ang maging kalugod- lugod sa Diyos.
Do we live for our master’s pleasure and praise? We cultivate our love for Him by humbly submitting to Him alone as evidenced by our obedience to Him and an exclusive focus to please Christ. Do we devote time to know His will by reading His word? Do we obey His word even if at times we find ourselves struggling? Are our thoughts directed to forward our own agenda or do we aim to do things that our Lord will be pleased? See, the goal that we have is to hear Christ or to hear God say: “well done, good and faithful servant.” Are we willing to serve Him out of our gratitude and love for who He is and what He has done for us? Service cultivates humility that despite whatever position we may have gained on Earth, we have nothing to boast but Christ’s gracious work in us. It makes us useful for the kingdom of God. As slaves, we do not deserve to receive anything from our Master, yet He graciously and generously provides for our needs. He handsomely rewards us although He is still the one who works in us. He continuously protects us, assuring us that no one can separate us from His love, nor can anyone snatch us from His hand. He preserves us as we abide in Him. Aren’t we serving the greatest Master of all?
Consider Charles Thomas Studd, AKA C.T. Studd. He was a famous athlete. He was a cricketer who gave up his athletic career to become a missionary to China. While in China, he turned 25 which was which made him eligible to receive this inheritance from his father and it was a very large sum of money. And do you know what he did for his inheritance? As he prayed and read his Bible he felt convinced that he should give his fortune away to show the world that he relied not on money, but on a living Lord. He wrote checks for Mueller’s orphanages and for missions. And why he is known for his motto that says if Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him. The same way may be said to a slave of Christ. Has Christ died for your sins to redeem you? Has God not given you the greatest inheritance in His Son? How can our sacrifice compare to what Christ has done? Yet like slaves, we are to serve Him before taking care of ourselves And after doing what our Master has commanded us, we can only say we are unworthy servants. We have only done what was our duty. That’s why Isaac Watts song in a sense, it’s like the believers anthem were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small, love so amazing so divine, demands my soul my life my own.
In conclusion, Kingdom heirs, let’s cherish God above all as heaven-bound pilgrims and devoted slaves, living not for this world, but for God alone in humble submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Let us pray. Our gracious God and Father, You are indeed our greatest possession and you deserve wholehearted devotion. Help us Lord God to cherish You above all, to devote our lives to You. Forgive us Lord God when our hearts are enticed by the things of this world. Help us through Your word that we may be guided by Your wisdom. Allow us to repent and to seek you again renew Us by your love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, amen and amen.