Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE WHAT NOT TO DO FOR MISSIONAL LIVING: Part 1

Did you know that Jesus has just as much to say about what "not to do" and he does about "what to do"?  Powerful missional living is always about knowing what things to pursue and knowing what things to avoid!

By its very nature life needs to be lived in the pursuit of an object or goal. If not, life tends to wanter aimlessly, much like a ship without a rudder.   But having the correct objective/goal to pursue is as equally important, otherwise you might find out to late that what you were chasing after was the wrong thing.  Jesus had a lot to say about living a missional life and living it with the proper objective.  Jesus' desire was that we would live such powerful missional lives that it would bring would us meaning and fulfillment.

In this blog we are going to look at one of those things that Jesus said "NOT TO DO".  Here, on the sermon on the mount, Jesus begins to give a list of things we are to avoid and not do.  Avoiding these things will aid us in our ability to shine the Light of Christ brightly in our part of this spiritually dark world. Today, we are only going to look at one of the "What Not To Do's" but as we go through each of them you might begin to experience tension to what Jesus actually says and to we practice in our normal Christian life.

Here's a good place to give us this reminder:  
Jesus Hasn't Called Us To Live A Normal Christian Life.  
Christ Has Called Us To Live A Missional Life That Has A Totally Different Value Set.  

With that in mind let's get started!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, 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. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"  
Matthew 6:19-22

I.  DON'T STORE UP TREASURES HERE ON EARTH!

Back in Bible times the sources of wealth for people was land, produce and cattle. The more land you owned, the more produce you grew, and the more cattle your raised would position you to become a wealthy person.  But today the source of wealth for people is property, investments and businesses.
Here Jesus gives a command not to store up these kinds of things your life's goal and objective.  Now that just might be a bitter pill for you to swallow.  Think for just a moment about how much of your life is centered around obtaining these things!  Isn't that exactly the focus we are told to have if we are going to make it in this world?  
Look at what Jesus actually says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth ..."  He didn't say, "I highly recommend you not to ..." or "Don't spend to much time storing up treasures on earth ...".  No. Jesus said, 
"DON'T DO IT!"  
The "storing up" of worldly riches, according to Jesus, isn't suppose to be even a consideration for God's people and certainly can't be for those who sincerely desire to live a missional life and join Christ where he is leading.

II.  OUR FIRST REACTION TO HEARING THIS COMMAND IS USUALLY:" WHY?"

Why can't we store up our riches? Shouldn't that be the aim and goal of every person in life?  Why is it so bad? Doesn't God want me to accumulate nice things? Doesn't having worldly riches make me more of an asset for doing God's mission?  
Oh, how the questions just keep coming!  We have been so conditioned and trained to believe that the accumulation of wealth is not only a good thing but a responsible thing. Society has taught us that if we are going to be good and productive citizens of society we need to become self-sufficient through the gathering of worldly wealth.  
But let's answer the question. Why should we gather up and store up worldly wealth? Why would Jesus instruct us not to do it?  And the answer is:  Because they are temporary and will not last. Jesus warns us that worldly riches can be stolen or destroyed and for sure we won't take any of it with us when we die!  It just isn't going to happen.  And on the Last Day, Judgement Day, all of the earth including its wealth will be destroyed by fire in God's righteous judgement.  There are only three things that can happen to worldly wealth. It either:
  • Wears Out!
  • Runs Out!
  • or Gets Stolen!
In other words, the gathering up and storing up of worldly riches is a useless goal or objective from an eternal perspective.

III.  JESUS THEN GIVES AN ALTERNATIVE!


In verse 20 Jesus says that instead of storing up treasures on earth we should store up treasures in Heaven.  The reason for it is because storing up treasures in heaven has the exact opposite effect of storing up treasures on earth.  Instead, of the treasure running out, wearing out or getting stolen;  treasures in heaven can never be stolen,  never run out and never wear out.  IT WILL LAST FOREVER!

IV.  HOW DOES ONE STORE UP TREASURE IN HEAVEN?


“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief 
comes near and no moth destroys" Luke 12:32,33

The way we a to store up treasures in heaven is through our generosity to those in need around us.  The wealth that God has provided you to have in this world is not for you to store up and hoard for yourself but for you to share with who are in need.  God wants you to use your earthly resources to help and benefit those genuinely need help.  God has given it to us for us to be a blessing to others.

Take a quick look at the parable in Luke 12:23-21:

"Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

I really like the question that is posed at the end, " ... and now who will own what you have prepared?"  It's like Jesus is hammering in the point ... "you were given your worldly riches to be a blessing to those who are in need but if you refuse to use it for that purpose you will be removed from it and someone else will get it to use it the way I intended it to be used.  

When we begin to view missional living to involve everything about us, including our wealth, we begin to see that God is going to hold us accountable for all of the things that he has blessed us with and how we used it to be a blessing to others and if we used it in such a way that God gets the glory.  

On a final note in this passage of scripture Jesus is teaching us that our goal/objective to pursue in missional living is not the "Storing Up Worldly Treasures" but instead the "Storing Up Treasure in Heaven By Using Our Worldly Means To Help Those In Need." 

GOD HAS GIVEN US THINGS 
NOT SO WE WOULD HOARD IT
BUT IN ORDER TO SHARE IT!


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