16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
It is a rather lengthy text and I know you are wondering how the part relates to the last. At first glance, one would assume that Jesus is speaking about three totally different things: fasting, material possession, motives and priorities. As I studied the text, I did see a connection. Our passion is determined by our perspective and priorities are determined by our passion. Jesus said, “Where the treasure [priority, what you value most] is, there will be the heart [passion also]. We actually have a row of P’s in this passage: Performance, Possessions, Perspective, Passion, Priorities and our Purpose. I will pass over most of them lightly because I want to concentrate on two primarily.
The world puts a lot of stock on performance. The world judges us by our performance but Christ is not impressed with performance and especially when it is just that, a performance or an act. Jesus used the word “hypocrite” and the word comes from the theater, it is a person who wears two faces or more than one face. A person who can plays more than one part by simply changing his/her costume and mask.
The worldly man thinks that success is bound up in the things we possesses. Thus he is wrong is his first principle. Jesus said, “Life does not consist in the abundance of things that one possesses.” The worldly man puts far too much emphasis on acquiring things, amassing things and he will never get anything right because he has missed the first principle. It is like missing the first button on your shirt: all the others button are going to be wrong because the first one is wrong. We don’t usually notice that we got the first wrong until we get to the top.
Jesus said, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. ” Usually, the first thing I do when I set down to read is clean my glasses. I do that so I can see more clearly. The word perspective comes from a latin word that means to see through, like a window or a lense. Mr. Webster says, “Perspective is the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. Jesus said, “If you eye [perspective] is bad, your mind will be filled with darkness.” Everything depends on your perspective. The blind man saw Jesus as a healer, a Man sent from God but the Pharisees and Scribes saw Him as a law-breaker because He healed the blind man on the sabbath.
Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Did you get that? Where your treasure is, there is where you will find your passion.
Treasures are things we try to keep because we place a lot of value on them. They may not be valuable in the grand scheme of things but they are valuable to us because of the affection we have for them. Seth and I torn down an old barn a couple of months ago and it was filled with treasures. I suppose they were treasures to the old man who owed the place some years ago because he saved them but his treasures became our trash. It is quite possible that you treasure things that others don’t treasure. He is very possible that you and I treasure things that have no eternal significance.
When we thing of treasures, we generally thing of money and we want to pounce on the greedy, the misers, the hoarders of material wealth but your treasure may be something other than money. You may treasure your reputation. You could possible treasure a relationship. Everyone has treasures. You will not meet a human being that does not treasure something. Our treasures are the things that we put is safe or protected areas and when someone invades or intrudes into that protected area, we get really upset and defensive.
As Jesus said, it is impossible for us to love two masters equally. We cannot value two treasures equally. You cannot love God and money equally. All of us have priorities, we have things that we put first and if we fall in love with money, we will make it a priority. If we love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and body…we will put Him first. Our priorities come out of our passions, our passion comes out of our perspective
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Our purpose is to serve Christ. We were created to be servants and to have a Master. My purpose in life is to be obedient to the LORD Jesus Christ, to serve Him, to do His will and bring glory to His name. My purpose in life is not to pastor a church, that goal could be blocked but no one can keep me from being obedient to Christ except myself.
Obviously, if our perspective is tainted, it is going to effect our values, our treasures and when we began to treasure the wrong things, we fail to accomplish our mission which is to honor and obey Christ. When you first read the sermon on the mount, you think that Jesus is teaching from the cuff and that he is moving randomly from one subject to the next but nothing is further from the truth.
- The Pharisees and Scribes were not real: they were performers, hypocrites. Our first step is to get real.
- We have to see things from Christ perspective. We have to clean the lens, clean the window so we can see clearly what is reality and what is not.
- If our perspective is right, we will treasure the right things. We will want what Jesus wants. Our will and His will, will be one.
- Once our perspective is right and our values are right, we will have the passion, the desire to make Christ our greatest treasure.
- Our passion will guide us into our purpose.
- It is not to promote ourselves
- It is not to promote our church. People who promote their church are invariably promoting themselves and they are using the church as a cover. They can boast about what their church is doing and people don’t see it as a personal boast but that is exactly what it is.
- Our passion is to be our relationship with Christ and our love for Him is the motive for our obedience. Jesus said in John 14…”If you love me, obey my commandments.”
Our purpose is fulfilled out of our passion and our passion is determined by what we treasure most.
Dr. James Kennedy who I think founded Evangelism Explosion once said: “There are many reason why Christians do not witness but the two primary reasons that we do not share our faith is  A compromising life-style  Fear. The reason I bring this up is that I think Dr. Kennedy hit the nail on the head. We don’t want to be performers like the Pharisees, we want to be real but unless we are excited about Jesus and talk about Him from the overflow of our daily walk with Him, we will be hypocritical. So the number one reason why we don’t share our faith is not fear, it is that we are not passionately in love with Jesus. When we talk about our church or our ministry, we are really talking about ourselves. We need to return to our first love. We need to get our priorities straight and put Christ first where He belongs. He needs to the topic of our conversation.
Have you ever bumped into a grandparent and all he/she could talk about were grandkids. What about a football fan that wants to talk football 24/7. We may not want to admit it but our conversation and the way we spend our money will always point to our passion.
I love the story about the preacher who was going to be fired right after the Summer Revival. He knew it, the congregation knew it but the visiting evangelist did have any idea that the pastor was on the verge of being dismissed. After a revival service, the evangelist got engaged in conversation with one of the senior adult women. She told the evangelist that they were going to fire the preacher as soon as the meeting was over. The evangelist was shocked and he ased, “Has he done something immoral?” “Oh, heavens no” said the dear lady, he is a good man. “Well” said the evangelist, “Is he neglecting his family?” “No, no, no,” she exclaimed, “He is a good husband and father.” The evangelist then said, “Why on earth are you about to fire a good man?” “It’s a long story,” said she, “But to put it in a nuts shell, he is just to hung up on Jesus. All the man ever talks about is Jesus…every time he gets into the pulpit its Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and frankly, we are sick of it.”