The disciple’s heart: its treasure, its focus, its master

In the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus identified earth and heaven as being two places where people might choose to store their treasures, he contrasted two different lifestyles (Matthew 6:19-20). We either look to the things of earth for our security and significance or we look to heaven. If self is in charge, we will seek some source of earthly security.

Jesus warned against storing up our treasures on earth because they can be stolen or deteriorate (Matthew 6:19). Such treasures are not reliable nor do they last. Yet, how often are we most concerned about earthly things like our possessions, our financial strength, whether others like us, our influence, and so forth?

Instead, Jesus commanded us to pile up for ourselves treasures in heaven where they will last forever (Matthew 6:20). Nothing can ever destroy our acts of kindness or our obedience to God stored in heaven, not illness, thieves, or decay.

Where we store our treasure not only reveals where we are seeking our security and significance, but also shapes our focus for how we live. In Jesus’ words, “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Matthew 6:22). Our focus determines everything about us – whether we are spiritually healthy or not.

By contrasting these two different ways to live along with their competing values and motives, Jesus cut to the heart of the problem. We all serve something that rules our lives, whether that be God or some earthly-anchored source of security like money which self has chosen.

Yet, no one can serve two masters. So, Jesus commands us, if we will listen to him, to reject piling up our treasure on earth. Rather, we are to focus upon accumulating treasure in heaven. The natural reaction might be to doubt whether such a focus will sustain our lives in the here and now.

Jesus knows us. So he tells us to not worry about the necessities of life, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:32). Furthermore, Jesus promised God will provide what is needed, if we will put his kingdom first. (Matthew 6:33). Disciples can live in peace knowing God is in control.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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