Monday, November 24, 2008

Your Greatest Treasure

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism


The Eighth Commandment

You shall not steal.

110 Q. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

A. He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law.

But in God's sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our neighbor by schemes
made to appear legitimate, such as:

inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising;

counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.

In addition he forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.

2) Scripture

Luke 16:13-15: No servant 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.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.

15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Matthew 13:44-46: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Comment:

We don’t tend to think of the Pharisees as idolaters, but they were according to Jesus. One of their idols was money, because they loved and served money more than they did God. Despite all of their religiosity, prayers, fasting, and rituals, Jesus clearly points to them as idolaters.

Throughout the Old Testament, idolatry is talked about as an abomination in the sight of God. Jesus uses the same word to describe the Pharisees’ idolatry. They loved their possessions and money more than the Lord, who is our creator, redeemer, sustainer, and shepherd of our souls. To love a created thing more than our blessed, triune God is idolatry---an abomination.

Like the Pharisees, we tend to justify and excuse ourselves of our idols. We refuse to confess our out of whack priorities---that we love and serve God’s gifts more than God himself, the Giver of every good gift. We need to repent of our idolatry and plead for the Lord to change our hearts.

The two parables Jesus tells in Matthew 13 will show us the change we need. We need to come to the place where we treasure the kingdom of heaven above everything else in our lives. The kingdom is supremely valuable because the King of the kingdom is supremely valuable. His presence in our lives is our greatest good. Being a member of his kingdom, forgiven and cleansed, enjoying fellowship with the Father and the Son and his people, is our greatest treasure.

Until we treasure Jesus Christ’s kingdom as “so valuable that it is worth sacrificing everything to gain it,” using our money and gifts rightly as the catechism directs us will be impossible. But if we will repent of our idolatry and treasure the Lord and his kingdom, we will begin to reflect the gracious generosity and goal of our King, who desires the salvation of the world.

Discussion: Does it surprise you that the Pharisees’ were idolaters? How does the Lord view idolatry according to the passage from Luke? Do you treasure Christ and his kingdom above everything else?

Prayer Starter: Pray for the Spirit’s work in your heart. Ask him to work in your heart so that you treasure God’s kingdom above all else.

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