Treasure & Boredom

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Summer goes by so fast. Especially if you’re a teacher or a student. You look forward to the break all year long and then when it finally gets here, it’s like one of those small west Texas towns between San Antonio and El Paso—blink and you miss it. Kim always has big plans for projects and getting together with people that we don’t seem to make time for the rest of the year. Anyone else do that? But the weeks of summer always go by in a flash and we’re always left wondering where all the time went—never enough time to do all the things we wanted to do. 

Hours and days seem to vanish in an instant but sometimes minutes seem to stretch on forever. Then when we have a little break in the business of our normal schedule, a little down time, some of us are tempted to say we’re bored. As if the universe is supposed to entertain us. I’m not just talking about kids—plenty of adults  complain about being bored. Boredom is a dangerous mindset.

We’ve always had a pretty hard line at our house about boredom. We’ve always said that boredom is a sin. It’s unacceptable. Boredom, at its core, is being unthankful for the time we’ve been given. Boredom only happens when we lose sight of our purpose, who we are, what we’re put on earth to do—when we’ve lost our vision. 

I’m not really talking about the brevity of life, how it’s like a vapor, a mist—that’s not what I’m talking about today—I’m actually talking about the next section of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is about to talk about the strange relationship we all have with our possessions, our treasure, but His point isn’t just that we should be generous with our money—we should, but His point is that we should spend our lives in pursuit of more important things—eternal things.

We’ve always had summer rules for our kids that basically boiled down to “use your extra time to do something meaningful.” There was to be absolutely no passive screen time during daylight hours—no TV shows or movies or video games. If the sun was in the sky, they had to be doing something productive. I’d actually say, “do something that makes you awesome.” Play the guitar, play the piano, write a song, paint a picture, draw a comic book, learn how to do a back-flip, teach yourself how to do origami, learn how to edit videos or use a real camera, write a story, paint a dragon on your wall, I don’t care, do something—you won’t have time to be bored if you’re doing something. 

Sometimes we’d be around other kids and they’d say the “b” word. The look on Angel and Von’s face when they were little and they heard a kids say, “I’m bored!” They’d be like, “Dad! That kid said a bad word.” Dropped a B-bomb.

So our text is Matthew 6:19-24, as you listen, notice that when Jesus talks about possessions, He’s really talking about what we’re doing with our lives—are we just trying to accumulate more things? Or are we doing something faithful with everything God gives us?

Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 

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

Prayer: Father in heaven, help us to hear what You have to say to us today. Even though it seems like Jesus is just talking about money, open our hearts and minds to understand the fuller implications of His teaching. Help us to break free from our enslavement to all the stuff that has us, so we can use it for Your kingdom and Your glory. AMEN

Money helps us see who we really are. If you want to know what a person’s real priorities are, look at their calendar and their bank account—how they spend their time and their money. By the way—money’s just symbolic time. Most of us spend a large portion of our day trying to earn money. As the saying goes, “Time is money.” 

So, whatever we end up spending our money on—that’s also what we’re spending our time on. Which is what our calendars show us—how we plan on spending our life. Every moment on that calendar is like a dollar, we only get to spend it once. We’re either going to be deliberate about how we spend it or we’re gonna waste it.

I use Google Calendar for everything. My calendar looks pretty ridiculous. I have everything on there. When I eat, when I sleep, date night, when to take vitamins. It’s connected to this Apple Watch and it tells me what I should be spending my time doing all day every day. If I forget to put something on my calendar, it’s probably not gonna happen. 

But it’s not just about being busy—everyone thinks they’re busy. I always find it amusing when someone in their twenties—unmarried, no kids, living in an apartment and working their first real job—I love when they tell me how busy they are. It’s cute.

You ever watch squirrels? They never stop. They’re always hunting, gathering, storing up acorns for the winter. A study done at the University of Richmond says that squirrels lose 74% of the nuts they hide. 74%. That’s a lot of wasted time—I don’t know what else squirrels have to do, maybe it’s good that they keep busy hiding food from themselves, but I don’t want to spend my life like a squirrel. I’d like the things I do to have a little more impact and meaning. Maybe be a little more efficient.

Jesus says, “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… Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, don’t waste your time stockpiling acorns that you’re just gonna lose. Don’t just spend your life in the pursuit of nice clothes, fancy cars, a big house, expensive food—a bunch of things that will, in the end, not have much value. Instead spend your life doing meaningful things. Worshiping God, loving people. Using the stuff God has given us to bless other people—not just hoarding it all for ourselves. We say it every week—we’re blessed to be a blessing. That’s why He gave us so much.

Wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart’s going to be. Wanna know what’s really important to you?—what do you spend our time doing? What do you spend your money on? It works the other way too, by the way—If you want something to be important, try throwing a little money at it. Spend more time on it. How much we budget on something, whether we’re talking about time or money, is gonna change our perspective.

But the problem is, Money blinds us. But Frank, you just said “money helps us see,” how can it do both? How can it help us see and also blind us? Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

This is Jesus playing around with a popular saying of the day. Kinda like the way we might say someone gave us the “evil eye.” If a person looked at you with a “good eye” it meant they looked at you with kindness and generosity. If they looked at you with a “bad eye” it meant they were stingy.

The way we look at someone or something—whether with generosity or with envy—it changes us.

You ever take a job that you didn’t really want to do but it paid pretty well so you did it anyway? Maybe the idea of the job made you feel good about yourself, maybe the thought of a big wad of money gave you enough motivation—for a while. But eventually you start looking for a way out, you wonder why you ever signed up for this miserable job in the first place. Money blinds us.

Money itself isn’t the problem, it’s the love of money that gets us. It’s the selfish use of it that derails us and sends our life spinning out of control. That’s why Jesus has this weird little section about the eye being the lamp of the body in the middle of His teaching on possessions. 

He’s basically saying that the way we look at something changes how that thing is going to affect us. If we look with generosity, looking to help people and bless them—then we’re filling our world with light. Remember, He also said we’re the light of the world. If we look at our possessions and everything that God has blessed us with—if we look at them as a pile of resources to share with others, bless people and show them love—then our whole body will be full of light. If the heart that God has placed within us by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us—if that’s what controls our treasure, then that’s good. But if we look with greed, envy, selfish desire—if our eye is bad—then we ruin everything. We distort everything God has given us—if we let our treasure control our heart, we’ll be filled with darkness. The way we look at what God has given us changes everything—do we look at our stuff like a creepy hoarder? Like Ebenezer Scrooge? Thurston Howell the Third? Like Smaug the Dragon laying on top of his gold? Gollum with “my precious.” Cersi and Danny with the Iron Throne. If so, then Jesus says “If the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

God wants us to have nice things, but He doesn’t want those nice things to have us. We’re supposed to hold everything with open hands. Hold everything loosely. Thankful and eager to share.

How do we spend our money and our time? We need to pay attention. It tells us a lot about how deeply the Gospel has really changed us.

But it would be a mistake to think our primary response to the Lord’s teaching on money should be, primarily, to just change our goals and priorities away from possessions and toward loving our neighbor. As if giving all our money and time to help people is the main point. Loving people is important, but our primary focus has to always be on Jesus.

Helping people should be a byproduct of our faith in God. We respond in faith to Jesus because of the life He gives us—because by being His follower, His disciple—that defines who we are. It defines who we’re going to be. When our heart is responding to the grace and love that He first showed us—in His life and death and resurrection—the way He gave everything to bless us and save us. That’s when we can see the world as it really is. That’s when our eye can be like a lamp that gives light instead of some kind of evil eye that shines darkness on everything it sees.

When our heart is focused on Jesus, when we live our lives responding in faith to His promises and His Word—then our priorities change and we have true freedom. Freedom to choose what really matters—which is going to involve loving people and serving others with all the stuff that God has given us. It’s going to involve spending our time making our little corner of the kingdom of God on earth more like it is in heaven. We’ll use our treasure and our days making sure His name is hallowed, making sure His will is done, sharing our daily bread with the hungry, and helping lead our friends and family away from temptation instead of shoving them into the path of evil one with our anger and greed just so we can get what we want. To love people means that we are willing to sacrifice for them—you can’t love sacrificially and be selfish at the same time.

The Gospel. One way to understand the Gospel is that we're all in debt over our heads, a debt we’d never be able to get out from under. You were financially ruined. Bankrupt. Game over. Then Jesus became your benefactor. On the cross He paid your debt. All of it. Set you up for life. You’re going to inherit the whole world. You get everything. You did nothing to deserve it but you get it anyway. That’s what grace means. You’re saved by grace through faith—faith just means you believe it and are thankful.

So how do you spend your money and your time? Now that you’ve been given everything because of Jesus. How does that change how you look at your money? Your possessions? What you do with your life? It really should be very different from how it was before. Before you realized what Jesus did for you. Back when you were a slave to greed and envy and the world the flesh and the devil. The last line of our text says it all, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” We’ll either see our treasure through the eyes of faith and allow God to tell us what we do with our time and money—or we will be controlled by our greed and selfishness.

Don’t be blinded by money—it’s a trick to keep you in the dark and miserable. Don’t spend your life trying to just get more and more. Don’t be squirrely—spending your whole summer gathering acorns just to forget where you put most of them. Look to Jesus, open your eyes, see the world around you through the lens of faith. What do think God gave you all that stuff for, anyway? How can you use the time He’s given you to do something awesome with your life? It all goes too fast. Paint a picture, write a song, clean out a closet, love someone—use what God has given you to bless someone else. Time is money, and money is time. What does God want to do through you? He loves you and He wants to love other people through you. May God give us the grace and opportunity to spend our lives faithfully. AMEN

donna schulzComment