Pastor David B. Curtis


Where's Your Heart? - Part 2

Matthew 6:22-24

Delivered 02/23/2003

We are looking at the end of Matthew 6, specifically verses 19-34 that deal with the subject of the believer and his material possessions. The importance of this topic is emphasized by the extended discussion Jesus gives it. In these verses, Jesus addresses how the one who is a kingdom citizen should conduct himself in relation to material possessions.

The section encompassing verses 19 through 24 is built around a singleness of purpose which should motivate our lives. The one thing that should consume us is the pursuit of God and His righteousness.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What we store up here on earth is temporary, it is not secure. But whatever we store up in heaven is permanent, it will last for eternity.

"Lay up treasures in heaven" - we saw in our last study that the Jews saw giving to the poor as laying up treasure in heaven. The Lord confirmed this to be true when he said to the rich young ruler:

Luke 18:22 (NKJV) So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

The early church was committed to laying up treasure in heaven. They were not interested in piling up their own wealth. For example, in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost there were thousands of pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem. We know from history that they would move in and live in the homes of the people who lived in the city. The city would literally swell with people. There were not enough inns to care for all of them so they would move into the homes. Many of these people became believers on the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached, and three thousand were saved. There were thousands more added to the church over the course of the next few chapters of Acts. Now that they were believers, they didn't want to return to their former homes, because they were in the church and there was excitement and joy in being with all the believers in Jerusalem. So the believers who lived there had to absorb them. I am sure that many of them were poor and without any resource, so the early church had to give to meet their needs. Luke records that they:

Acts 2:45 (NKJV) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

This generosity was, in fact, storing up for them treasures in heaven. Remember that Jesus taught that how we treat others is how we treat Him:

Matthew 25:45 (NKJV) "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

As we help those in need, we are literally giving to the Lord and storing up treasure in heaven. Both Jesus and the Jewish Rabbis taught that what is selfishly hoarded is lost, but that which is generously given away brings treasure in heaven.

Matthew 6:21 (NKJV) "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Greek word translated here as "heart" is kardia, from which we get the word "cardiac". The Bible always refers to the heart as the internal part of man - the seat of a man's personality. Predominantly, it refers to the thinking processes - not the emotions. When the Bible talks about emotion it refers to the bowels of compassion, the feelings we get in the stomach or midsection. The Bible even talks about the liver as an organ of emotion (Lam. 2:11). That's because the Jewish writers expressed emotions such as love and hate by the effect those emotions produce in the abdominal area. According to the Bible, the heart is what we think with:

Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, But his heart is not with you.
Genesis 6:5 (NKJV) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

We can think of the word "heart" as referring to the will and emotions, because they are influenced by the intellect. If my mind is really committed to something, it will affect my will, which in turn will affect my emotions. The will is like a flywheel: the mind gets it moving and once it is moving, it moves the emotions. So when our Lord spoke of the heart, He was talking about the mind, our thinking. We could translate it this way, "For where your treasure is, there your mind/thinking will be also."

Where our treasure is, that is where our thinking and thus our emotions will be. So where is your treasure? If you have trouble answering this question, look at your check book and see where your treasure is going, and you'll know where your heart is.

Let me ask you a question, "Does the heart follow the treasure or does the treasure follow the heart?" In other words, if I put my treasure in a certain investment, then will my heart follow? Or if my heart is in a certain area, will my treasure follow that?

According to verses 21, where we invest our treasure will determine where we set our thinking. According to this verse, our hearts follow our treasure.

Wherever you put your investment is where you will put your heart. If all that you possess is locked up in commodities, accounts, notes, and savings, that is where your heart is going to be. But if it is in the process of being invested in God's causes, then that is where your heart is going to be.

But from other areas of the Bible we see that the treasure follows the heart. We see from the book of Nehemiah that when the heart is right, the treasure follows it. Nehemiah was God's man to rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Using the people of the land, he rebuilt the wall in fifty-two days. When the wall was completed, a great revival took place. The revival was initiated in Nehemiah 8:1 when Ezra brought the book of the law of Moses. Revival always starts with the Word of God.

Nehemiah 8:5-6 (NKJV) And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Nehemiah 8:8 (NKJV) So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

In Nehemiah 9 there are four things that came as a result of the reading of the law. One, conviction of sin - they began to confess their sin; two, a desire for obedience; three, praise; and four, a covenant or promise. First they were convicted of their sin, and then they began to praise God, to express a desire to obey God, and then they affirmed that they wanted to make a promise or a covenant.

Nehemiah 9:38 (NKJV) "And because of all this, We make a sure covenant, and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it."

In the sight of all their spiritual leaders they wanted to make a vow to God - a covenant or promise as a result of their hearts being revived through the reading of the Word. What was their covenant?

Nehemiah 10:32 (NKJV) Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God:

The first thing they wanted to affirm, other than general obedience to the law of God, was the payment of the required third of a shekel temple tax. In other words, they would give to support the functioning of the house of God. We see here that the initial response of their hearts being right with God was the giving of their treasure:

Nehemiah 10:35 (NKJV) And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD;
Nehemiah 10:39 (NKJV) For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

Their initial act of obedience when their hearts were right was to take care of their financial responsibilities given to them by God. Beyond that, they gave freely of the first fruits of everything they possessed.

When the heart is right, the treasure is poured toward God. Our heart has an inseparable attachment to wherever our treasure is. Conversely, wherever our heart is, that is where we put our treasure.

Notice also what Paul says about the Macedonians:

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NKJV) Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

The believers in Macedonia gave freely of their treasure to help the saints, because their heart was right with God - "they first gave themselves to the Lord."

Where I set my heart is really the critical issue in my spiritual life. It will determine how I perceive everything. If my heart is right, and my treasure is toward God, then I am going to have the right kind of spiritual perception. My treasure will be where my heart is, because I have to attach myself to my investment. The bottom line is that the heart and the treasure are inseparably attached. Where one goes, the other follows.

Matthew 6:22 (NKJV) "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

This is a difficult verse but let's see if we can grasp its meaning. The idea behind this verse is simply. The eye is regarded as the window by which the light gets into the whole body. The state of a window decides what light gets into the room. If the window is clear, clean, and undistorted, the light will come flooding into the room, and will illuminate every corner of it. If the glass of the window is colored or frosted, distorted, dirty, or obscure, the light will be hindered, and the room will not be lit up.

The amount of the light which gets into any room depends on the state of the window through which it has to pass. So, then, Jesus is saying the light which gets into any man depends on the state of the eye through which it has to pass.

I think that the "eye" here is a metaphor for the heart. When the heart is right, the whole body is filled with light. In Deuteronomy the heart and eye are connected:

Deuteronomy 15:9 (NKJV) "Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you.

To "set the heart" and to "fix the eye" on something in the Bible is virtually synonymous:

Psalms 19:8 (NKJV) The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

"If, therefore, your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light." Now the thing we need to figure out is what does the word "good" mean. The word "good" is from the Greek word haplous, which means: "singleness, sincerity. Haplous was used in the Septuagint to mean: "singleness of purpose, undivided loyalty". However, among the rabbis, the "evil eye" indicated selfishness; and in that case, the good eye might well indicate committed generosity. Thus being full of light is equivalent to being generous. The Greek word Haplos is used this way many times in Scripture:

James 1:5 (NKJV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally [haplos] and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Romans 12:8 (NKJV) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality [haplotes]; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
2 Corinthians 9:13 (NKJV) while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal [haplotes] sharing with them and all men,

Translating this word "liberal or generous" seems to fit well with the context of the preceding verses. If this is correct, Jesus is speaking of one special virtue which fills the body with light -generosity, and one special fault which fills the body with darkness - selfishness.

Matthew 6:23 (NKJV) "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

The Greek word here for "bad" is poneros, which means: "evil". But in both the New Testament and the Septuagint, poneros regularly means: "niggardly or grudging." Deuteronomy speaks of the duty of lending to a brother who is in need. But the matter was complicated by the fact that every seventh year was a year of release when debts were canceled. It might, therefore, happen that if the seventh year was near, a cautious man might refuse to help, because he was afraid that the man will take advantage of the seventh year and never repay his debt. So the law stated:

Deuteronomy 15:9 (NKJV) "Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you.

Poneros here clearly means: "grudging and stingy".

Proverbs 23:6 (NKJV) Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies;

Here again, the word poneros has the idea of stingy. In other words, don't eat a bite of somebody's food if they are a stingy, selfish person.

Proverbs 28:22 (NKJV) A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.

If you hurry to be rich, you will be ungenerous, grudging, and selfish.

So Jesus is saying, "There is nothing like generosity to fill you with light; and there is nothing like a grudging and ungenerous spirit for filling you with darkness.

When sighted people see with their eyes, their body is filled with the light that comes in from the world, which they perceive through their vision. But if their eye is dark, there is no light, and they perceive nothing. The same thing is true of the heart. If your heart is generous, which would be Christ like, your entire spiritual being is enlightened, but if your heart is selfish, fixed on the material things and the treasure of the world, the blinds come down on your spiritual perception, and you do not see spiritually as you should.

We could say that your attitude toward giving will affect your spiritual condition. Isn't that what James said?

James 2:22 (NKJV) Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and BY WORKS FAITH WAS MADE PERFECT?

Your faith matures as you act on it, and generosity, giving to those in need, is a work that matures our faith:

Luke 12:15 (NKJV) And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

Jesus then gives us the story of the covetous man who hoarded all he had:

Luke 12:21 (NKJV) "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

There is a "laying up treasure for yourself" and there is a "being rich toward God" which Matthew calls "laying up treasure in heaven."

Luke 12:31-34 (NKJV) "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 "Sell what you have and give alms; PROVIDE YOURSELVES MONEY BAGS WHICH DO NOT GROW OLD, A TREASURE IN THE HEAVENS THAT DOES NOT FAIL, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

When you are generous with what God has given you, you are storing treasure in heaven.

Luke 16:9 (NKJV) "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.

Let me try to give you a transliteration of this: Invest your money in the lives of people who will someday greet you with thanksgiving when you enter heaven.

Luke 16:10-11 (NKJV) "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

If you are not generous with your money, if you are not a good steward with the money God has given you, He will never give you spiritual responsibility. Those men whom God has greatly used have been men who were good stewards, people who were generous with their money. The Pope said of Martin Luther, "This German beast does not love gold." Spiritual responsibility comes to those who handle money correctly.

There are people who come to church and never seem to change. They never grow, never seem to love the Word, never seem to be a witness to others, and never seem to be in love with Christ. When I see someone who never seems to understand or perceive spiritual realities, I wonder if it isn't because they are so focused on the earth and oriented toward earthly treasures that the blinds are down, and they have no spiritual perception at all.

The message is clear. Without a proper attitude toward possessions, without a spirit of generosity, we become people devoid of spiritual understanding. How deceived we are if we think that we can know the truth of God while selfishly hoarding our material possessions.

The focal point of your mind and affections will be where your treasure is. If the focal point is not where it ought to be, the result is spiritual darkness. It is only as our attention is focused on Christ that the fullness of revelation and the light of the glory of God will shine. If we have our eyes fixed on material things, we will not have spiritual light and perception, and we will be in spiritual darkness and blindness. The heart set on earthly treasures is in spiritual darkness.

To put it another way, until you take care of the view of money in your life, you will never be able to deal with spiritual realities. Our Lord is saying that this issue is so big that it may be blinding us in spiritual perception. How total is the darkness of one who should see spiritually but pulls the blinds down because of his own covetousness! Let me simplify it to one statement: How you handle your money is the key to your spiritual perception:

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Once while lecturing in Utah, Mark Twain got into an argument with a Mormon on the subject of polygamy. The Mormon confidently asked Twain, "Can you find a single passage of Scripture that forbids polygamy?" "Certainly," Twain replied. "No man can serve two masters."

This is not exactly what Jesus had in mind. In reality, He was asking about our God. You see, your God is whatever or whomever you serve. The most important thing in your life - that is your God. If money is the most important thing, then money is your God. If a person is the most important thing, then that person is your God. Who is your God? Is it the true and living God, or something lesser?

Someone might say, "I have two jobs, so I am serving two masters." The reason people say that is they don't understand the words "serve" and "master". It does not refer to an employee in an eight to five job. "Serve" is the Greek word douleuo, from which we get doulos, which is the word for "bondslave." And "master" is the Greek word kurios which denotes absolute ownership. We could translate this, "No man can be a slave to two owners."

Slavery, by definition, means "single ownership and full time service." A slave was not a person, a slave was a thing and had no rights. A master could beat a slave, kill a slave, and sell a slave. A slave was a living tool, no different than a plow or a cow. To be a bondslave, to be the property of a master, was to be constantly, totally, entirely, one hundred percent devoted to obedience to that one master. It would be utterly impossible to express that obedience to two different masters.

According to Romans 6:16-18, now that we have come to Christ, we must yield ourselves as servants to Him, because we are His slaves and no longer the slaves of sin. God can only be served with entire and exclusive devotion with single-mindedness. If you try to split that devotion with money, you will hate one or the other.

Jesus did not say, "We must not", nor does He say, "We should not", but He does tell us, "We cannot serve God and mammon"; we cannot love both. Where our heart is, there is our treasure. When working for gain becomes your treasure, you are no longer serving the Lord. It is impossible to serve God if your heart is set on something else.

In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says that you cannot have divided attention. You cannot have your mind set on earthly treasures and also on heavenly treasures at the same time. The word translated "mammon" means: "treasures or riches." It came from a word that meant to put your trust in something and then came to mean riches or treasures, some of the things in which people put their trust.

The two masters of this verse are God and mammon. It is important to see this in the context Jesus is talking about. He is not talking about working at two jobs, like many people do today. He is talking about being the slave of a master, being the master's total, absolute possession. The slave has no time of his own and no possessions of his own. It is impossible to serve two masters, because, as a slave, you are obligated to give your entire self to one master who demands your entire being. God and mammon are opposing masters. You will be drawn to one and against the other.

Mammon, riches, or treasures obligate you to build your life around them. They force you to invest your life in them and to measure everything in light of how it will affect your goal to acquire more things.

An interesting transition has been made here. You may now be pursuing treasure for yourself, but in so doing you have become the slave of that treasure. The treasure becomes the master, because now you are dominated by thoughts of whether your activities will enhance your treasure. Will this enable you to make more? Will it secure your treasures? With all of these thoughts, you have now become the slave of your treasures.

You cannot be the slave of earthly treasures and the slave of God, because God demands service to Him regardless of the cost. He demands absolute obedience regardless of the consequences. It is impossible to be a slave for two masters. The demands are opposing and opposite. If earthly treasure is what your life revolves around, Jesus Christ is saying very simply that you are missing the mark.

What is the driving goal of your life? Is it to be pleasing to Jesus Christ? Or is your goal to have more or to be more famous? There are many ambitious people who want to get ahead in the world. They want to acquire more. We need ambitious Christians in a godly sense, motivated to pursue the one goal in life of being pleasing to the Lord. That is what life is all about; that is what makes life meaningful. Everybody has to have something that makes his life go.

Who is the master of your life? What makes you go? What makes a new day worthwhile for you? What gives your life significance and meaning? What is the focal point of your life? You must have one. Have you devoted your life to the things of this world? I am not asking if God has given you many things in this life. He may have prospered you and given you great wealth. But I am asking you, "What is the focal point of your life?"

On the other side of the coin, just because you may be very poor and have very little does not mean that Jesus Christ is the focal point of your life. You may be seething with resentment and bitterness; you may be jealous and envious because you do not have material possessions. Therefore, being poor is not synonymous with being godly. Possessions really are not an issue except as they absorb our lives and our attentions.

Is your life focused on Jesus Christ? Do you know what it means to be liberated from the tyranny of material things? Or are you trying to build your life around earthly security and earthly possessions?

If you are a believer, you are not above the danger of being diverted from the goal that is before us. The world tells us that certain things are valuable and worthwhile. It asks us what will happen to us if we do not have all of these things. But Jesus will take care of them and provide for us. That does not mean we do not work hard. It does not mean we do not need to make provision for our families as the Bible says. But the focal point of our lives is not things - it is Jesus Christ.

When we think about that, it gives us security. We do not have to worry about the stock market or the price of gold or silver. We do not have to worry about inflation. Our security is not placed in those things. It is placed in Jesus Christ.

If all of our possessions collapse and are gone tomorrow, the focal point of our lives will not change if the focal point is Christ. External changes will not change our purpose of life or our reason for being if He is the center. What a privilege to live in this transitory world but invest our lives in something that is eternal. Invest your life in something that will matter in a hundred million years. What a privilege to devote our lives to those things that really matter! My prayer is that we might be a people whose lives are built around the ambition of being pleasing to God and honoring Him in all things.

The orders of these two masters are diametrically opposed. The one commands you to walk by faith, the other to walk by sight; the one to be humble, the other to be proud; the one to set your affections on things above, the other to set them on the things of the earth; the one to look at the things unseen and eternal, the other to look at the things seen and temporal; the one to have your conversation in heaven, the other to cleave to the dust; the one to be careful for nothing, the other to be full of anxiety. They are diametrically opposed - you can't serve them both.

The choice is between God or mammon. You can serve one or the other, but not both. John Calvin said, "Where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority." Martin Luther observed, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversation of the heart, mind, and the purse." That is the issue. M.E. Burns said, "Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise; Thou mine inheritance, now and always."

It all comes back to the question of the allegiance of our heart. Where's your heart? Who do you serve? Is your heart toward God? Is your focus upon Him? Is your master money or the Lord? Money talks! What does it say about you?

Media #265b

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322