Breaking the cycles of greed #1

More from our series on the Sermon on the Mount – this time Matthew 6:19-34.Four Questions

1. Where is your treasure? (19-21)

What is the thing you value most? What is the thing that most gives you pleasure? Or look at verse 21: ‘Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’ Where is your heart? What do you desire? How would you complete the sentence: ‘I’d be really happy if …’ What really matters to you?

If what matters belongs to this earth then what will you do? How will it reveal itself in your life? What are some of the signs?

  •       envying other people’s possessions
  •       buying things for the sake of buying something
  •       being tight- , not being generous
  •       over-working to earn more money
  •       letting other people’s lifestyle set the standard for yours
  •       putting possessions before people
  •       shopping as therapy – shopping to cheer yourself up

When we look at chapter 5 we saw how Jesus gives us a way out of the vicious cycles of conflict. Well, here Jesus talks about the vicious cycles of greed …

  •       Wealth corrodes and therefore does not accumulate (it is like sand slipping through your fingers).
  •       Wealth does not satisfy (adverts promise satisfaction, but in fact are designed to create dissatisfaction).

What if, instead, the thing you really value is God? And what if the thing you long for is to serve him and please him? If what matters is treasure in heaven or pleasing God then what will you do?

‘Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.’ (Philippians 3:8-9)

Our actions always show what we really treasure or value.

2. What do you look at? (22-23)

The eye is like a window letting light into a room or like a lamp providing light. Point it to the light and your whole body or life will be in light. If your eye is healthy then your body has light; it can see what it’s doing, it can navigate around. In other words, if you are looking at what is good then you will be able to walk through life on the right path. But if you’re looking at what s false, dark, bad then your life will be false, dark, bad.

Imagine walking across a field. If you fix your eyes on the gate you’re heading towards then you’ll walk in a straight line across the field. But what if you constantly look at some houses away to the left? You wander off course, probabaly veering over to what your attention is focused on.

So what do you look at?

What can you look at that will keep you on the right path in life?

  •       God, God’s word, God’s people, God’s creation (26, 28)

(See also verses 26-30 – God is intimately involved in the world with a super-abundance of creativity and beauty.)

‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’ (Philippians 4:8)

What can you look at that will lead you astray or bring darkness to your life?

  •       your worries, other’s possessions, many adverts, uncritical watching of television

3. Who are you serving? (24)

Whatever you value most will inevitably be what you end up serving. Of course it will, because that will be what matters most to you, what you plan for, what you act for, what your worry about, what you get agitated about.

Here is the true vicious cycle of greed:

  •       where you look -> what you treasure -> what you serve -> what you love and

Yes, serving wealth will make you or despise God! It is a very sober statement. If you priority is money then God will become an unwelcome distraction.

It’s a vicious circle because what you look at is what you treasure and love, and what you treasure and love is what you look at. And so it goes on. But you can break the cycle …

  •       look at God revealed in Christ -> treasure God -> serve God -> love God
  •       look at possessions -> treasure possessions -> serve possessions -> God

4. What tes your thoughts? (31-33)

You might think that verses 19-24 are for those who are rich and so they don’t apply to you. The true is that in world terms we are all rich. But actually what verses 25-34 show is that rich and poor can be caught up in the vicious cycle of greed. You may not have treasure on earth, but the desire for treasure on earth can still te your life. See verses 31-33.

Four times this passage says: ‘Don’t worry’ (25, 28, 31, 34). Worry = food and clothing ting your thoughts. What should te our thoughts is God’s kingdom (33).

If you end our discussion thinking about what other people should give then you’ve radically missed the point. In fact, if you end our discussion thinking about money then you’ve missed the point. What tes your thoughts? God and his kingdom.

In the next post: Three practical steps we can take to break the cycles of greed …

4 thoughts on “Breaking the cycles of greed #1

  1. Very helpful, thank you Tim
    It reminded me of the truth that we become like what we worship – as in Psalm 115, speaking of idols: “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them”

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Pingback: Breaking the cycles of greed #2 « Tim Chester

  3. Pingback: Greed « Bridge Blog

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