God’s Greatest Priorities (Matthew 6:19-21)
by Pastor Ana D. Crisostomo | March 3, 2019
Matthew 6:19-21Consciously or unconsciously, each of us chooses our own priorities. They are the goals we put at the top of the list. They reflect what we value the most and what we believe is worth living for. These are the things we hope will fulfill our deepest desires. Jesus called them our “treasures,” and challenged us to question them. Listen, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for your selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mathew 6:19-21 ESV).
In other words, He’s asking us, “What’s your treasure?” or actually, “Where’s your treasure? Are you going to pursue money, pleasure and safety here in this life, or are you going to use your days and resources to prepare for heaven? Do you want to be rich or take people with you into eternity?” What’s the greatest investment of your life? Is anybody going to be in Heaven because of you? It’s a matter of priorities.
Four choices…Below are four choices every one of us must make. They are unavoidable. Each choice is revealed by the way we answer a simple question. And as we review these choices, it soon becomes obvious that Jesus answered them one way, and Judas, the crowd, and even some of the disciples before the resurrection, answered them another way. The question before us today is: How do you and I answer them?
Choice #1:Here or heaven? Which is more important? Does this world seem more real than the next? Some people have spiritual eyes that can see the future. They really believe in life after death, so they use the opportunities and resources they have here to prepare for that future. They understand that their biological life, and even the planet itself in its present condition, will pass away, but the next level of existence last forever. Abraham and Sarah were such people, which is why, though wealthy, they lived like “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrew 11:13 AMP). “All these died in faith (guided and sustained by it), without receiving the (tangible fulfillment of God’s) promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
Choice #2:Help or forgiveness? Which do you or I need more? Do we think of ourselves as a good person who may have made a few mistakes, or as a selfish or rebellious or independent person who’s done some really bad things? When Jesus tried to tell people He came to die for their sin, most stopped listening (Jn 6:60-71). He said
it’s the sick who need a physician (Mt 9:12), and by “sick” He meant people who knew they were sinners, who understood they would be judged by God, so they longed for His mercy. Those who don’t consider themselves to be sinners and confused by all the talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Inside they’re saying, “Buy why? I’m not that bad!
Choice #3:Things or people? Which am I spending my life pursuing? Which do I value the most? It takes energy and time to acquire things, just as it takes energy and time to reach people for God. Everyone has to work to provide the basic necessities of life, but after that our priorities determine how we invest what’s left over. Depending on our choice we’ll end up with more things or people.
Choice #4:God’s hand or face? Do we want God to do things for us, or do we want God? Do we use Him or love Him? Is our deepest longing to someday be with Him and see Him face to face? Because if it’s not, sooner or later we too will become disappointed with God. A few “unanswered” prayers or unexpected crises can turn us bitter as well.
Asaph, the psalmist, described his own struggle with this choice in Psalm 73. He said he watch unbelievers prosper while he was facing hardship, and he grew bitter toward God. But then he said he went into the sanctuary of God and worshipped, and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, he changed his priorities. He realized there is nothing greater than knowing God. He said, “Whom have I in heaven (but YOU)? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:25). He called God his “portion forever,” and said, “…But as for me, it is good to be near God.” (Ps. 73:26; 28). In worship Asaph changed his answer to this question. He chose God’s “face” rather than His “hand.”
ResponseIt’s a matter of priorities. It isn’t that God doesn’t want to bless us here in this life, or work miracles to help us, or generously provide physical resources. He does. But those are not His highest priorities, and they can’t be ours either. The example of Judas is a warning to us that until Jesus’ priorities become ours, we’re walking on a path that will leave us disappointed, and may make us bitter. But when we surrender to the heart of God, and value the things He values, and see this world from His perspective, our disappointments will cease and our hearts is filled with thankfulness.
Growing Deeper in Christ Questions:
1) Pick one of the “Four choices” listed above, and tell us the choice you made. Was the choice easy to make or difficult? Tell us why.
2) Do you know someone who grew disappointed or bitter at God? What was their reason? Are they still that way, or have they changed?
3) Do you need to change any of your priorities? Would you be willing to share that with us and why it’s a struggle?