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Where is Your Focus? (Matthew 6:19-24)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Where is Your Focus?”

(Matthew 6:19-24)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

January 20, 2019

The Passage:

Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: (Hold up a pair of binoculars) Does anyone know what these are? These are binoculars. Binoculars help you see something that is far away. You know, the thing with looking at something with binoculars is that you can often see the thing without binoculars, but binoculars help you focus on that thing. They zero in on that thing and make it bigger so that you can see it better and focus upon it. 

Today, Jesus is going to challenge us to consider this question, “Where is your focus?” He’s going to talk specifically about two types of things in particular: possessions and the things of God. 

As we know, Jesus is continuing His sermon on the mountainside and He is showing us how a genuine follower of God is supposed to live. 

In today’s passage, He challenges us by showing us how a follower of God is supposed to live in relation to money and possessions. 

Let’s pray together as we study this passage. 

(Prayer)

As with binoculars, we must zero in our focus on that which is most important in our lives. Jesus is going to give us three areas of focus that we can focus upon this morning. 

Are you ready?

First, . . .

  1. Focus for our heart. [on screen]

Look again at verses 19-21. 

19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus comes right out of the gate talking about worldly treasures.

He says the things that we gather on this earth can be destroyed. They can be taken from us. 

Listeners of Jesus’ day would have identified greatly with this, probably better than us today because they didn’t have debit cards and savings accounts. They had actual stuff. Their precious metals could tarnish, their fabrics could be eaten by moths, their herds could be stolen, their fields could be burned or suffer insect attack. These things could be taken from them. 

We experience this today but in a different way, right? Our possessions can be wiped away by a hurricane. One change in the housing market can decrease the value of our home tremendously. One bad business deal can bankrupt our company. One bad car accident can leave us without a vehicle. Our wallets can be stolen, our laptops can have coffee spilled on them, our phone screens can be broken. 

Jesus is pointing out that all the things on this earth that we treasure are temporary, they are fragile, they don’t last. 

He first shows us this picture of the frailty of possessions on earth which we are prone to treasure. 

Then, He gives us a picture of something much better. 

He says to treasure the things that are in heaven. 

The treasures in heaven are so much better than the things on the earth. 

The treasures in heaven do not rust. The treasures in heaven do not spoil. The treasures in heaven cannot be stolen. The treasures in heaven cannot be replicated. The treasures in heaven cannot be faked. The treasures in heaven cannot be affected by market trends. The treasures in heaven are not affected by the price of a gallon of milk, the price of a gallon of gasoline, or the current minimum wage. The treasures in heaven are kept safer than all the gold in Ft. Knox. The treasures in heaven are more faithful than the morning sunrise. The treasures in heaven are more valuable than all the gold doubloons on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. The treasures in heaven are more abundant than all the tea in China. The treasures in heaven are more satisfying than a glass of ice cold lemonade on a central Florida Summer day. The treasures in heaven are imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and they are kept in heaven for you. 

Yet, we don’t always see them as treasures. We are satisfied with the treasure of the earth instead. 

Jesus warns us explicitly against this. Don’t make earthly possessions your treasure. Don’t store up treasures on earth. Instead, store up treasure in heaven. 

Some of us may be tempted to think that it’s not ok for us to invest in things that are for our personal benefit and gain. That sounds selfish. Here’s the great thing: when it’s heavenly things, we can invest all that we want for our own gain. When we gain the things that God wants us to have, that’s a good investment! Jesus commands us to invest in heavenly things for ourselves. He says, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”

So, invest all that you want in heavenly riches!

(pause)

Our heart should be devoted to heavenly things. The heart is the center of our being. The hub of all that we are should be devoted to God and His ways. 

Focus your heart on heavenly riches by taking these steps:

Pray that God would help you desire His riches. 

Search for God’s riches in His Word. 

Prioritize God’s riches above the riches of the world. 

Where is the focus of your heart?

(pause)

Next, Jesus gives us a . . .

  1. Focus for our eye. [on screen]

Now, this point is a bit more confusing, so let’s be careful to discern what Jesus is saying. 

Look at verses 22 and 23. 

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

Ok, there’s a lot happening here. Why is Jesus talking about the eye? How can our bodies be full of light and darkness? Well, let’s talk about this a bit.

First, Jesus says the light is the lamp of the body. Well, a lamp usually provides light. In ancient culture, an oil lamp would provide enough light to see where one is going. 

In our context, we can think of the eye showing us where to go, as it sets the direction for where we are going. 

Before we go somewhere we look at where we are going. We see it and then we go that way, or we see something and then we get it. 

If we are setting our gaze on possessions and money, we will go for possessions and money. If we are setting our focus on the things of God, we will go for the things of God. Remember the binoculars? We must focus on what we want to see!

We must focus our eye on Jesus and His ways!

Second, Jesus talks about our eye being healthy or bad. 

Well, again, it’s all about seeing correctly and aiming for what we want. 

Generally speaking, if we set our attention on bad things, bad things will come our way. If we set our attention on worldly things, worldly things will come our way. If we set our attention on the things of God, the things of God will come our way. 

Jesus is so concerned with where we set our attention and direction that He says it will affect our entire lives. 

He says that if our eye is healthy (if we focus on good things) we will be full of light, but if our eye is bad (if we focus on bad things) we will be full of deep darkness. 

Church, we want to be full of light, not full of darkness. We are children of the light!

We must focus our spiritual eyes on the things of God, not the things of the world. We can’t have our eyes going in two different directions. We are not spiritual chameleons! You know what a chameleon is, don’t you? (show picture of chameleon on screen). 

We must have our spiritual eyes going in one direction, and they better be focused on God, or we will be full of darkness. We will be godless fakers rather than genuine followers of Jesus. 

The eye helps determine what happens in the heart. We must focus our eye on the right thing so that our heart will be focused on the right thing. 

If there’s anything that’s keeping you from seeing clearly with your spiritual eye, clear it out. 

Illustration: It’s like when you wake up in the morning and you can’t see clearly because you have that gunk in your eyes. You rub your eyes, you blink a few times, you clear up your eyes so you can see. So, also, in our spiritual eyes, we must clear out the gunk so that we can see clearly and focus clearly on where we’re going. 

What’s the spiritual gunk that is keeping you from seeing clearly? Perhaps it’s some friends that you have. Perhaps it’s some sort of intake in your life like television, music, or internet. Perhaps it’s an improper devotion to something like possessions, or politics, or power. Perhaps it’s your own pride, or arrogance, or apathy. Perhaps it’s an addiction to drugs, or acceptance, or some sort of sexual sin. Whatever it is, get the gunk out! Get it out so you can see!

Jesus has changed your life, so focus on Him and His ways!

Set your eye towards the good, set your eye toward God, and be filled with light.

Finally, Jesus provides us . . .

  1. Focus for our living. [on screen]

Look at the final verse, verse 24. 

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

This verse reminds me of the chameleon eyes again.

Jesus says that you cannot serve God and money. 

He says we cannot be devoted to two masters. 

He uses master in the sense that we are completely devoted to someone. 

Everything we do is for their pleasure and they have dominion over us. 

Jesus says that your master can be God or your master can be money. 

Now, many of your translations say mammon, you might say, “What is mammon?” Mammon is a Syriac term (Syriac is an ancient language used by some of the early Christians), which refers to riches, gain, prosperity, possessions, or money. 

Jesus said you cannot be completely sold-out to money and be completely sold-out to God. 

You can’t be a good husband to two wives, you can’t be a diehard fan to two college football teams, you can’t have two favorite movies, you can’t be devout in two different religions, and you can’t be devoted to two masters. 

Jesus says that something’s gotta give. You will love the one and hate the other or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. 

We must be focused in our living. We must live for God!

We must be devoted to God and His good gifts. We must store up treasure in heaven. We must have our eye set to the things of light. 

Concluding Thoughts:

I believe that the implications for the devotion of our heart, the direction of our eye, and the way we live go far beyond money.

However, Jesus is explicitly talking about money and possessions in this passage. 

Money and possessions do seem to have a unique hold on many of us. 

Indeed, the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” [on screen]

We must catch this, church: money is not evil. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself is a gift of God.

We collect money every week at our church. We’re not collecting something that’s evil, at least not on purpose!

Money can be used for the glory of God. Go out there and get as much money as you can and use it for the glory of God. 

Use it to buy things that glorify God. 

Give it away to those in need. 

Give it to a church that seeks to glorify God and attain a vision worthy of giving towards. I make no apologies for asking you to give to our church and to our vision because I believe you are making investments in the kingdom of God and you are storing up for yourself treasures in heaven. Make more of an investment! Store up more treasures!

Give so we can feed the poor in Bartow. 

Give so we can bless our community.

Give so we can take the gospel all over the world. 

Give so we can maintain the wonderful facilities with which God has blessed us.

Give so we can employ and bless a healthy church staff. 

Give so we can meet needs that we have in our building, in our worship, and in our outreach. 

Give so we can reach new people and continue to grow. 

Give so we can develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others. 

There are other ways that we can store up treasures in heaven. Here’s the key, we must be focused on God and His ways first and foremost. 

We’re so focused on other things that we’re missing out on what we should be focused on. 

We can’t see the vision that God has given us as Christians and as churches because we’re too focused on the American dream and achieving some conjured up vision of what it means to be successful. 

We can’t see that sacrifice is better than selfishness. 

We can’t see that generosity is better than greed. 

We can’t see that the divine is better than our dollars. 

We can’t see that heaven’s promises are better than hoarding our possessions. 

We must refocus our hearts, our eye, and our lives. 

We must focus on the riches of God. 

That’s our bottom line this week:

Bottom Line: Focus on the riches found in God. [on screen]

Jesus is not instructing us this way in this passage because He wants to punish us. He doesn’t want us to miss out on riches. He wants us to see what true riches are.

He wants us to see that love is better, peace is better, grace is better, forgiveness is better, and best of all is adoption into the family of God, made possible by His sacrifice on the cross. 

He’s showing us something better!

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Identify the three things on which you focus the most. [on screen]

What consumes your focus? Be honest. 

Identify the top three things that consume your focus. 

  1. Identify the one thing on which you focus the most. [on screen]

Now, narrow it down to one thing. 

On, what one thing do you focus the most?

  1. Ask God to help you treasure His riches. [on screen]

God can change your heart, so ask Him to help you do so.

Closing:

You know, church, I often hear from people or read things about the concern of the dying of Christianity in America and other parts of the world. 

Do you know what the greatest threat is to Christianity? It’s not the spreading of other religions. It’s not the rise of a larger number of secular people who don’t believe in God. 

The greatest threat to Christianity is a lack of genuine godly living among those who profess to be Christians. 

Some of us don’t really treasure heaven and our lives reflect it. 

Jesus is telling us how to live, now we have to live it!

Ask God to give you a heart for His riches. 

He’s so much greater than the best the world has to offer. 

Jesus gave His life so that you could have something better. Do you believe that? Let’s live that way!

If you’ve not experienced that better way of life, you can do so starting today.

The Bible tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good. He’ll never let you down. Give your life to Him and see how He can change your life forever!

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Just As I Am

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Join us back here tonight as we study part two of our study in world religions. Tonight we will be studying Buddhism. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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