When Kelly and I were newly married and beginning our life with children we were so financially stretched we didn’t know how we were going to make it every month. We reached out to a pastor friend of ours for help with our finances. He began to help us develop a budget, which we really didn’t have at that time, but he also had us track our expenses for a few months. Everything we spent had to be accounted for; every receipt saved and every online charge written down. At the end of tracking all of that, we had to evaluate where our money was going. It was eye-opening to see where the money really went. It said a lot about us.
I’ve been told that one of the quickest ways to discover someone’s values is not to listen to what they say but to look at how they spend their money. If you can see where someone’s money goes, then you can discover what is really important to them, whether it’s coffee, house expenses, a car, food, retirement, or something else. Where our money goes indicates what is important to us. It reveals what we treasure.
Jesus knows this is true, and that is why in His master sermon on the good life with God in God’s kingdom, He addresses what we treasure. Listen to parts of verses 19 and 20 again:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Now we know a few things about Jesus and the early church that provide perspective on this statement. First, we know that Jesus was supported by some people of wealthy means in His life and ministry. He lived simply but He also depended upon the care and support of others. Second, we know that the early church had both the wealthy and the poor together in the church. There were those with houses and estates who served as gathering places for the early church, as well as those who were very poor as part of the church. This tension is addressed in various places, including the epistle of James and Paul’s epistles, such as 1 Corinthians 11.
So, money as a resource is not in itself what is at issue here. What is at issue is our “treasure” and our “hearts.” Why? Because what we treasure directs, and often defines, our life.
The importance of the heart is the key to all of this.
The heart is the center of a person’s life; what someone desires on the inside that motivates how they live on the outside.
Jesus is constantly trying to bring us back to the heart because our inner life shapes our outer life. This is why the surpassing righteousness of Christ is an inner transformation that leads to outer transformation of life.
The scary thing is what Jeremiah says about the heart:
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Jesus has come to bring transformation to our inner person, which Ezekiel described in this way in Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.”
We need a heart transplant for God’s kingdom so that we can live our lives in a different way. When we have a heart transplant through Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can live with our hearts set on a different sort of treasure.
What we treasure directs, and often defines, our life.