by Jim Backhouse
My lesson tonight is to show how we often invest our time, money and talents
to gain earthly and temporal rewards instead of heavenly eternal ones. The
Sermon on the Mount is an orderly and thorough study of the principals of the
kingdom of heaven. The entire sixth chapter of the book of Matthew is devoted to
the kingdom of heaven and our relationship to God. In the first eighteen verses
of this chapter, Jesus shows that the secret devotion of the heart rather than
the outward acts of religion, is that which counts with God and is absolutely
essential to be acceptable to Him. The five verses in Matthew from which our
lesson is taken are one of the most important passages in the entire Bible (in
so far as daily living is concerned).
In verses 19 and 20: Jesus teaches that treasures in heaven are of far
greater value than treasures of earth! Moth consumes the idol of fashion, which
so many worship today. Corruption and thieves can quickly remove some of the
worlds most worked for and sought after treasures. None of these earthly losses
can affect the soul's treasures in heaven: however, Jesus is not teaching that
it is a sin to have wealth or to own property, but rather instructs against
seeing these treasures as the aim of life and using them incorrectly. The
correct use of our possessions to the honour and glory of God allows the rich
and poor to lay up treasures in heaven. It condemns the selfish possessions of
material things that are not going to get us to heaven, of which Jesus said in
Luke 12:15: "And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth".
The lives of many men today seem to be employed to no other purpose than that of
building an abundance of earthly treasures. But no true Christian can envy them,
or follow their example.
Verse 21: "our treasure" In the Lord's teaching refers to those things which
mean the most to us in this life. Where they are - where we truly put our
emphasis in life there the heart will be. We all need to be honest and serious
in searching to know about our true affections. Some who meet to worship God
really only come as the hypocrites that Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 29:13:
"Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as your people draw near me with their
mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from
me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men". Jesus added in
Matthew 15:9: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men".
If our treasure is all on earth our happiness must depend solely on the
uncertainty of earthly things and our souls will be lost forever. Matthew 6:
22-23 Jesus continues from what He had just said in the previous verse to apply
the thought to our goals in life. In these verses, Jesus uses the figure of the
eye and its singleness of vision on important things to refer to the human mind.
If our eyes or our minds are fixed on earthly treasures to the extent that they
appear better than the heavenly blessings, how great is the darkness! We may
exchange the light of heaven for the darkness of the world.
TREASURES IN HEAVEN
Proverbs 2:4 compares treasures with wisdom. This is a comparison considering wisdom as valuable as the metal and other treasures of accepted worth. Matthew 12: 34-35 compares treasure with mans spiritual possibilities. "Generation of vipers" poisonous, evil and dangerous like vipers. Their hearts were thoroughly evil so they could only speak and do evil, on the other hand the good man out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things. Colossians 2:3 tells us that whatever wisdom and knowledge there is in the world that is worthy of the attention of man, all is found in Jesus Christ.
WE NEED TO AVOID MATERIALISM
The world is caught up with materialism. We can't get enough of cars, boats, caravans, electrical items, houses, t.v.'s, wardrobes full of clothes, shoes to match, all the latest toys, diamonds and jewellery, books galore, computers, furniture, the list goes on and on. We get to the point where we believe we have to have these things in order to be happy. We listen to the media and t.v. commercial that tell us we NEED their items, we fall prey to gimmicks and feel the need to rush out and buy, buy, buy as soon as we hear the word 'sale'. Many Christians fall into this category and have put material things before God, who takes second, third or fourth place in their lives.
WE NEED TO INVEST OUR WEALTH IN OUR FUTURE
A young man gave so much to God that he lived almost in need. A friend chided
him: "Do you think you ought to spend so much on the Lord?" The friend answered:
"I'm not spending it, I'm investing it." How can we invest our wealth? In 1
Corinthians 16: 2 we read - "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you
lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when
I come." We are commanded to give back to God a portion upon every first day of
the week. But can we do more? Yes. Think of all the possessions we have, how can
we use them to glorify God and the church? We can have Bible studies in our
homes, use our cars to collect people for church services, show hospitality by
having people stay in our houses and many many more things.
God's promises are always true - do we believe God will bless us with
sacrificial giving to Him? The Lord has promised to bless the liberal giver
(Proverbs 11: 24-25). Paul also taught us to watch what we sow (1 Corinthians 9:
6-7,11). Christians who sow sparingly will reap a small harvest. Those who give
abundantly will be blessed in abundance. Our Lord can and does bless us in many
ways, He knows what is best for us and what we need to live a Christian life.
The greatest blessings of a liberal giver is that their giving lays up treasures
in heaven. If we lay up treasures on earth, they will eventually be destroyed.
God is the giver of all our blessings. James 1:17 reads: "Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning". Over in the Old
Testament God sent a message to His people about robbing Him (Malachi 3: 8-10).
Today members of the Lord's body rob God constantly, then they wonder why they
have such a difficult time in their daily living. Giving only three, four or
five percent of their income or the change they have, is robbing God because it
is used to build up treasures on earth. Great blessings have not been promised
to selfish people.
To receive the promised blessings from God of liberal giving, the motives of the heart must be right. James 4:3 reads: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts". The Lord expects a generous portion of blessings to be returned to Him. We see this in Proverbs 11:28: "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch". Similarly Jesus gave a warning in Luke 12: 21: "So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God". This man's selfish greedy attitude was evident throughout the parable as he used a personal pronoun 10 times in describing his plan for building up his treasures on earth. He did not include God or his fellow man in his selfish plans. Galatians 6:7 states: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". Being selfish and greedy with God robs us of the Lord's blessings.
WE NEED TO INVEST OUR TALENTS IN OUR FUTURE
One of Jesus' missions here on earth was to live His life as an example for
us, using His talents to serve other people and God. The people spoken about are
extreme examples of how talent can be wasted and are examples of worldly views
of what is considered to be talent. None of these people put God in their lives,
but all of them touched peoples lives with their talents. Imagine the good they
could have done if they had put their faith in God, instead of fame and fortune.
Although we may not be famous, suicidal or drug and alcohol abusers, we can
still be guilty of wasting our talents and not following the example Jesus left
What is talent? Webster's dictionary defines talent - "a characteristic
feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person, a special often creative or
artistic aptitude". No where in this do we find the requirements for being a
doctor, a singer, speaker, athlete or actor to have a talent. We each have
different talents, but if we do not use them, what good are they to us or anyone
else? In Matthew 19:19-20, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it bore no fruit.
This is a parable in action showing what can happen to us if we waste our
Similarly, in Matthew 25:14-30 we see that two men dealt well with their
talents, but the third was lazy and had his talent taken from him. Vs. 15 says
"every man according to his several ability". We all have differing abilities,
some can do more than others, not everyone can accomplish the same thing. The
point of the parable, however, is that when we live the Christian life we need
to be using our talents wisely and not be slothful with them. The consequences
of laziness can be seen in vs. 30: "And cast ye the unprofitable servant into
outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Jesus Christ gave this parable for our learning. God has entrusted us with
certain abilities and duties and expects something in return. On the day of
judgement, each one of us will be held accountable to the Lord, just as the
servants in this parable were accountable. We may believe that we cannot do very
much. Moses found it hard to accept that he was chosen to lead God's children of
Israel out of Egypt. But God knew Moses better than Moses knew himself. Paul
believed he had a handicap of some description, yet he was one of the greatest
teachers and missionaries who ever lived.
Talent comes in many forms, In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church to
the human body. Just as every part of the human body serves a purpose, so every
member of the church can fulfil a need. Paul said in Ephesians 4:11: "And he
gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some,
pastors and teachers". Obviously we cannot all be preachers, song leaders,
elders, deacons and so on, but there is something everyone can do. Maybe you
cannot speak publicly or teach a class, but you can hand out a tract, perhaps
your talent is cooking, there is always a need for food for the sick. The
elderly may need assistance with home repairs, the church building requires a
lot of up keep. Maybe you are able to say the right thing when someone is
We must remember we glorify God by following His commandments and what we find pleasing does not always please God. It is God who blesses us with the abilities we have. We must use them in the right way. Paul tells the Romans, and this applies to us today, that without God, we are nothing (Rom. 14: 7-8). Throughout the brotherhood there have been many faithful men, now deceased, but Christ lives on through them because they chose to use their talents wisely. They followed Paul's advice to Timothy to teach other people. As a result, hundreds of souls have been brought to Christ. Jesus had a mission to save the lost. We have been left with the same mission today. We can only carry this out by us using our God given talents.
WE NEED TO INVEST OUR TIME IN OUR FUTURE
As a contagious disease like chicken pox spreads quickly from one person to
another, so a poor example can spread just as quickly throughout the church. If
a member of the church has poor attendance, this may cause a brother to think
they can do the same, without any consequences. But are there consequences? Of
course there are, and they are serious! We may lose our soul if we become slack
or lazy. We must remember also to pattern our lives after Christ and not of our
Jesus shreds all our excuses for why we can't put in more time: "But seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be
added unto you." Simply put, we need to prioritise the activities we all have in
our lives. We need to seek God, first. Not second, not third, not when we think
we can fit it in, not when we feel like it, FIRST!!!
How can we invest our time? By being at every service the church holds,
Sunday morning, Sunday evening and the midweek Bible class. Attend extra
activities the church holds. Outreaches, fun evenings, prayer nights etc. We can
use our time wisely at home in private prayer and Bible study. Time spent on
doing good deeds for others, cleaning the church building, writing encouraging
letters and visitation is time well spent.
What do we do with our time? Redeeming the time: The Bible teaches us the
value of time and instructs us to "Redeem the time because the days are evil"
(Eph. 5: 16). To "redeem" the time is to realise its value and use it to the
best possible advantage for things eternal. Brethren we are to make our time
count for God, we must decide how we will spend it. A choice must be made every
time there is a church gathering: are we redeeming the time or wasting it on
trivial things of life?
Nothing should be allowed to interfere with our being present at all the
services of the Lord's church. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31, "We
are to seek first the kingdom of God". This means God's kingdom must come first.
Certainly placing the church first in our life and allowing neither work nor
play to hinder our obligations to meet with the Saints is one way we can "seek
the kingdom first". Let's look at Hebrews 10:25. This does not say once on a
Sunday, or once a week, but the "assembling of ourselves together". When we miss
an appointment with the Lord's people we have also missed an appointment with
the Lord. Our heavenly Father knows that we need these assemblies to increase
our knowledge of Him, to develop our character to be Christ like and stimulate
our zeal to teach others.
One characteristic of the Christian is that he be "zealous of good works"
Titus 2:14, and be "ready to every good work" (Titus 3: 1). Surely every
Christian will agree that the various programs arranged by the leaders in the
church are good works. To be indifferent toward these services is to disregard
divine teaching. Throughout the Bible we can see who were faithful children of
God, who loved to worship Him, their attendance is expressed in the Psalms
(Psalm 42: 1-2,4; Psalm 84: 1-2,10). Surely this describes a man who finds great
joy and satisfaction in worship. He realises his need for God and his heart and
soul cry out for the privilege to worship Him. He can hardly wait to get to the
place of worship, he would rather spend one day there than a thousand elsewhere.
What a contrast this is with the attitude of some today. Worship to some is a
matter of offering a mere token of respect to God and heaving a sigh of relief
that their "duty" is done for another week.
Rather than looking for an opportunity to worship, they are looking for an opportunity to get out of worship. To all intents and purposes, they aspire to love and honour God at one service, while they completely ignore Him at another. Such people are well described in a poem by brother Gus Nichols:
We now want to look at what our absence from church services does to others:
Now let's look at what our absence does to ourselves.
WE NEED TO KNOW WE HAVE ONLY A LITTLE TIME! Our lives are so
uncertain. We don't know how much time each of us will have in this world. James
4:14 reads "Whereas ye know not what shalt be on the morrow, for what is your
life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth
away". We need to take charge of our lives now and invest in our future. We need
to be laying up our treasures in heaven now. God wants wholehearted service, not
service that comes from a divided allegiance. The church is a special class of
obedient believers - continually obedient believers.