by Mike Ratliff
4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. Proverbs 23:4-5 (NASB)
Happiness is a temporal condition of ‘rightness’ based upon circumstances. On the other hand, Christians are taught all through God’s Word to pursue the Joy of the Lord, which is not based in the temporal, therefore, it is in no way based upon our circumstances. Instead, “Joy is both an outcome of our relationship with the Lord and our source of strength for our obedience of Him.” This is a quote from my post What is Joy? from January 2006. However, in my many years as a Christian, I have known countless professing believers who sought their fulfillment completely in the temporal and, because of that, were easy prey of those false teachers of the ‘Health, Wealth, and Prosperity “Gospel”.’ As we have seen as we have dug deep into our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, there are many forms of religion that men create that they insist are ‘Christian,’ but they are another religion and their ‘Jesus’ is not Jesus Christ because they are man-made not God ordained.
19 “Do not 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 do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:19-24 (NASB)
The emphasis here is for professing believers to attempt to accumulate wealth as their treasure. For the believer, what is true treasure? Isn’t it possessing the treasure of eternal life based upon the righteousness and active obedience of another? All genuine believers possess this, however, Jesus tells us in His Sermon on the Mount not to act a certain way while obeying him by pursuing holiness and righteousness in our lives while we are still in the temporal. Why? He tells us over and over again that God sees this and will repay or reward us. If we live selfish, fleshly oriented lives here then will we have any reward in eternity? The answer is obvious that we will not.
Jesus tells us that it is impossible for a believer to be one who is accumulating treasure in heaven and one dedicated to accumulating treasure on earth, serving mammon, at the same time. He calls this the paradox of trying to serve two masters. However, the term he uses here for serve, in the Greek is not like the job you or I have where we work part of the time at our place of employment and then the rest of the time for ourselves. No, the word used here for serve is δουλεύειν (douleuein), which is a verb form of δοῦλος (doulos), “slave,” therefore, δουλεύειν really means “enslaved.” What Jesus is teaching here is that Christians cannot be enslaved to both God and wealth (mammon). To be enslaved to wealth is to not be enslaved to God and that means not belonging to him. A slave is always at the beck and call of his master unlike an employee.
How do we store up for ourselves treasure in heaven? We serve our Lord with lives focused on the eternal rather than the temporal. Those with temporal focus have eyes that are bad and that causes them to not be filled with the light from God and they are in darkness. On the other hand, those who have clear eyes to see because they serve God rather than themselves in the temporal are filled with his light, that is, his truth and are able to become living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto him. Hence, they are transformed through the renewing of their minds as the Holy Spirit does his work in them through the Word of God as they pray, worship, and spent time reading, studying and listening to good, solid teaching from God’s teachers and preachers of his Word.
Soli Deo Gloria!