“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.“Matthew 6:19-21
In Matthew’s presentation of the Sermon on the Mount, fifteen verses are devoted to wealth and its hold on humans. The danger of wealth was powerfully presented in the 1980 movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy. In this movie a Kalahari Desert native finds a Coke bottle in the desert, an object he believes was given by the gods. But the bottle becomes the cause of much mischief and conflict.
Jesus warned that giving one’s attention to God is impossible if wealth has a hold on us. “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” There are many indicators in a human’s life of where his/her affections are: what they spend money on, how they use their time, how much effort is made to pattern one’s life after God, and more.
Paul warned Timothy that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10. It’s not the money itself but the priority we give to the accumulation of money that makes us vulnerable. It is easy to see how true this is by simply looking at the way that the desire for money causes corruption, mistreatment of the poor, and loss of compassion.
The Hebrews writer told his congregation to “keep your lives free from love of money,” Hebrews 13:5. Similarly, James warns the rich in his community about how money is corruptible and the instrument of fraud and mistreatment of others, James 5:1.
Unfortunately, both rich and poor are susceptible to the evils of a love for money. Both can place their faith in money’s power. Both can love money above everything else. Both can forget God in a search for money.
It’s interesting that Jesus is not warning about money on Wall Street. This teaching is made in the vicinity of one of the small communities around the north end of the Sea of Galilee. One can still imagine them being taken over by greed and corruption.
Jesus reminds us to seek his kingdom first, above everything else.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, there is no one greater than you. Nothing more important than your Kingdom reigning on earth. Nothing more freeing than to be redeemed from the penalties of sin and failure. Yet we often place money, power, and resources higher than you. No wonder you said it is impossible to serve two masters, two gods, two competing interests. We pray for you alone to be our Guide and our Savior. Creator God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.