Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Matthew 13:4 : “The Parable of the Hidden Treasure”

October is Thanksgiving month at Eastside  Baptist Church.  Last week  I  gave you  an explanation  of this tradition among us and I trust that I have helped  you to see  that  giving and thanksgiving are  a thoroughly biblical  practice  found in the entire  Bible. This practice is  a true act of worship.  We saw that the supreme motive for our thanksgiving  is  not only  determined  by what the holy  law  of God commands  us to  do.  We saw  that our  supreme motive  is  what  our thankful hearts  command   us  to do  when we think of  Christ’s  sacrificial love for us.
  
When  we  remember  that  Christ has perfectly kept the law of God  for us who  broke the law of God,  and when we remember  that He gave us His righteousness in place of our unrighteousness;  when we remember  that Christ took   away  the wrath of God  towards us  sinners  and when we remember  that Christ  made us  His brothers, and children of  God and  heirs of heaven for ever and ever, then  the  joy of having this treasure  exceeds  all  our  earthly riches .  
This is what our  text says:    “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. “  (Matthew 13:44)
Picture the scene!  A  man  walks across a field, and he trips over  an object  sticking slightly out of the soil .  He looks  to see  what  it is that nearly made him fall  and   he discovers that this is a box   buried in the ground. He digs  and he   finds a treasure chest  filled with great  wealth. The problem is that the  treasure chest is found on a  piece of land which he does not  own.   And so , in order to get that great treasure he sells all that he has and   he  buys that land. Do you feel sorry  for the  man  who has  found the treasure  because he had to  give up everything that he had  in order to  buy that field ? This discovery, after  all  cost him everything!  No, you don’t feel sorry for him.   His sacrifice  is nothing   compared with the  treasure  he’s gained!  The man who found the great treasure made a short term  sacrifice in order  to obtain a long term reward. It might have cost him everything he owned  initially – yes, but in the end    it gained him everything that mattered [1].
When  he saw what he had found in the field   he made every effort   to get that field in order to claim that treasure.  Jesus says,   “in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”.  He    knew what he was getting , and it filled him with joy- so much joy that he was willing to give up everything else that he had! 
Now remember the purpose of  this parable . Jesus told this   story parable  to illustrate  the priceless value  of the ”kingdom  of heaven”,  when compared   with   our  earthly possessions – our  houses, belongings, money, investments , etc. .  The great discovery of  the gospel, which  is the key to the obtaining of the  kingdom  of heaven,   makes everything else  fade into   insignificance.  When we know  what  a great treasure  and inheritance  the gospel  obtains for us , all  other treasures  become  insignificant .

All this raises   an important question.  Is the kingdom of God  this valuable to you? If it is, listen to  important investment advice which the Lord Jesus  gives us  in Matthew 6:19-21: [19] “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. 
The investment advice  which Jesus  gives us  is  this – “Don’t store up treasure on earth – it  will become  worthless. Invest in heaven , and you’ll never lose .” This does not mean that  earthly money is unnecessary or useless . It’s ok , as far as it goes. You need it to live, and you need  enough to keep  you going.   Let it buy  you your present bread , clothes ,  an education – whatever you need  for now , but  Jesus doesn’t  want you  to  get  very anxious  about your future  (Matt. 6: 25-34).  He knows what you need (Matt 6:32), and He is committed to  look after you .   He looks after the birds and He  clothes the lilies  and the grass  of the field, and He says  “you are of more value than they!”  Do you trust the Lord Jesus with His words?
So , if you are a gifted and a talented person and   able to make a lot of  money with your skills , what should you do  with your surplus ?  Jesus says,    “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.  Let your  money work  for heaven’s sake!  Let your joy  work  for heaven’s sake ! How do you do that ?  Invest wisely in sound  gospel work. The best work  to invest in is  your local church  - the  gospel  work in which you are hopefully directly  involved here on earth, and where you  receive direct accountability and where you  can ensure that kingdom work is being done.   
In Luke  16:9 Jesus has this to say : “ And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”  Jesus counsels us here to  make this temporary money ( which will fail[2])  work  for the sake of the gospel.
Remember also  that you will take nothing with you when you die. Psalm  49:16, 17  gives great perspective: “ Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases.  For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. You take nothing  with you  when  you die , but  you can  use your money  presently to invest in the growth of  the kingdom of God .  Randy Alcorn  says:   “ You can’t take it with you  - but you can  send it on ahead." [3]
Why then  are we so reluctant to hear the words of  Jesus   about investing heavily  in the kingdom of heaven? Here’s the problem.  It is a matter  of trust!  Investing treasures  in  heaven sounds so intangible. We prefer savings account or unit trusts. Monthly or quarterly statements  will tell  us that our investments  are growing.  We tend to put a lot of trust in banks, and  yet , if the truth be told, banks ( history is our witness)  are just not  worth  our trust.   But  here is the Lord Jesus . He advises you  not to invest heavily  on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves steal. If the truth be told , we  seem to have great difficulty  to   trust the Lord Jesus  with His words .   Heaven  and eternity  seem to be so far away!   But it actually isn’t. How long will it be for you?   30, 40 ,50  years? James says that it’s a mere mist appearing for a little time and then vanishes (Jas. 4:14)  

What makes this so difficult is that we  live in an  age  of instant gratification. We want to see results  - NOW (!)  , but Jesus teaches us  that we need to think of deferred  gratification. Even financial planners tell us  that when it  comes to  investing your money you should not think in terms  of three months or three years , but rather  of 30 years . You need a ‘ long term view’ . More importantly you need to  trust  Jesus  in this.  You need to know that , that  which you give up now  for the sake of  buying the field with the hidden treasure   will only become yours  in the fullest sense in heaven . By the way ,  Jesus   promises that those who   sacrifice now  for the sake of the kingdom  “will receive  a hundredfold   AND will inherit eternal life.” (Matt 19:29).  Heaven  is our real treasure.  

What are you living for ?

 BIBLICAL  PRINCIPLES  OF STEWARDSHIP   
1.     God does not  need your money.  He already owns everything.  As  Creator and Owner, God doesn’t need anything. He  is self-sufficient   and  self-existent.
·       Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, The world and those who dwell therein,  for he has founded it upon the seas  and established it upon the rivers.
·       Psalm 50:7-12 [7] “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.  Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.  I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.  For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills,  and all that moves in the field is mine.  “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

2.     We  own nothing  ultimately . We are God’s stewards, managing His resources for His glory !  Stewards  are caretakers  and not owners. They  simply manage it on behalf of the owner. God made this clear to Adam and Eve on the day He created them.
·       Genesis 1:28-29 : “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”
·       Genesis 2:15 : “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to work it  and keep it.
·       Matthew 25:14-30 : The parable of the owner and the servants.

3.     God will supply every need of those who trust and obey  Him. Just as God provided for Adam and Eve’s needs, He also provides for us.  He sometimes chastises us for our poor stewardship. 
·       Psalm 37:25: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children  begging  for  bread.”
·       Matthew  6:25-34 : “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on….
·       Philippians 4:12-19  -  the Apostle Paul recognized that God took care of him, and that as a result, in all circumstances, he could be content.

4.     God wants your offerings to Him to reflect your faith in Him. Since God doesn’t need anything to accomplish His will, our offerings to Him accomplish a different purpose: to build our faith. It takes faith to trust that God will meet our needs when we give thank offerings  to Him. 
·       2 Corinthians 9:6-11 – learning to give cheerfully 
·        Proverbs 3:9  Honor the LORD  with your wealth and  with the  firstfruits  of all your produce".

5.     Material things will eventually vanish, but they can be  invested to reap eternal dividends.
Material things are not inherently evil; they have a place. But that place is temporary and limited. In fact, the harder we attempt to hang onto material things, the quicker they  disappear. God often reminds us of these realities in His Word.
 ·       Proverbs 23:4-5 : “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.  When your eyes light on it, it is gone,  for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
·       Luke 12:15-21 – the parable of the rich fool



[1] Randy Alcorn  : The Treasure Principle , p.11
[2] See the Wall street  crashes  in 1857, 1929,  2008-9
[3] Randy Alcorn  : The Treasure Principle , p. 17 

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