Jesus and Bubbles
Thank Rayce…at the end?
I can’t help but hear that passage and think of Finding Nemo.
You guys seen Finding Nemo? It’s the movie where they try to find Nemo. They find him.
At one point in the story, Nemo the fish ends up in a small fish tank at a dentist’s office.
And in this fish tank are a bunch of little fish who all have different personalities. You have a little starfish, William Defo as Gill, the blowfish...
And then there’s this little yellow tang fish that is obsessed with bubbles. In the tank is one of those little treasure chests that every so often opens up by a little burst of bubbles and out they come and this yellow tang fish thinks that freaks out and screams “My Bubbles!!” The fish is obsessed with the bubbles.
And there’s the classic line “Fish aren’t meant to be in a box kid, it does things to you.”
The joke is…what a dumb fish! He loves bubbles.
He loves those bubbles in that dinky little treasure chest that some dentist bought for $10 at PetSmart.
We as people are not unlike that Fish.
Don’t come between someone and what they love. You ever tried taking a toy from a toddler?
To be human is to treasure something.
As a kid, did you have a prized stuffed animal? A blankie? A binky you couldn’t survive without?
We don’t grow out of it.
Binkies became iPhones, RC cars became mid-size SUVs or trucks, Lego sets became a mortgage on a 3 bed 2.5 bath house in Sumner, dress up clothes turned into walk in closets, Piggy banks turned into 401ks. Don’t try and separate an American from their stuff or their money, we will throw some tea in Boston Harbor.
We all have something we prize.
Maybe think of it like this…what would you put in a safe? What in your life would you protect at all costs? What do you prize so much that if you lost it you don’t know what you’d do? What of yours…money, retirement account, savings, your house, makes you feel safe?
We need money to survive
It’s a really good thing to have a car, a lawn mower is helpful because the grass grows, a 401k is smart as is a will or life insurance.
But what we treasure shapes us, and when we love the wrong thing, like the fish said, it does things to you. Is it any wonder that our society is so amazingly rich and so incredibly depressed, anxious, and in a mental health crisis?
And so in our text this morning of Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus is teaching us about our treasures.
Or in another word, What do you value the most? What do you prize? What in your life can you look at and feel hope, secure, and safe?
And this is a message you’ve heard many times but I think it’s because we need it. What do you prize most in your life?
And in Matthew 6:19-34, as we continue in Jesus’ talk about what it’s like to live with God, he says Prize God over possessions, and put your mind at ease.
Prize God over possessions, and put your mind at ease.
How do we do that?
We are in Matthew.
Beautiful firsthand account of Jesus of Nazareth. A man who Matthew said was God in the flesh come to save humanity from sin and death. He’s the King and for those who prize him, they can live in His Kingdom.
And Jesus came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom is near!” Reconsider your life and all the things you value because life with God - the greatest treasure is here.
And Jesus heals people and teaches and becomes incredibly popular. And seeing the throngs of people following him, he decides to teach them about what it’s really like to live with God.
So he begins to give a talk on the kingdom - life with God in Matthew 5-7, and he distinguishes himself from the teachers of the day.
And last week Jesus taught us to live the Lord’s prayer and be the kind of people who have good conversations with our Father, and the previous week Jesus was talking about how it’s more important to be a good person than just to be thought of as a good person by others. And he warned us about having security in our reputation. And this week he’s warning about having security in our possessions.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Jesus is teaching us to prize God over possessions.
This first section of verses has three parts, Jesus teaching on storing up treasures and how that shows what we’re truly like, something about our eyes, and then a teaching on serving masters.
So first he talks about what we’re storing up.
Do not store up treasures on earth
What does he mean?
Well, he’s talking to a crowd of people in an agrarian society who’s money is in material goods and not 1’s and 0’s like you and I. You have to empathize with them because if you had a good crop one year you might be worried, “What if there isn’t good weather next year and I’m broke?”
He’s not talking about pirate treasure but the things we value. Money, our house, our food, our clothes…our possessions.
We have to remember,
Jesus is not just giving new laws. He’s doing more than behavior modification. He wants to change our hearts.
And so he’s not saying that saving things or planning is bad.
25 The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;
22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
So what is he saying?
He’s saying it doesn’t make sense to store up treasure on earth in the long run…because it doesn’t last! Moths eat your clothes and food, rust decays even the strongest of material, and then there’s always bad people.
Jesus gives a poignant parable about this in Luke 12...
13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” ’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
What we see is what was inside the man’s heart.
It’s not that barns, storage units, or fridges are inherently evil, but they can reveal that self-talk which no one else sees. “I’ve got a retirement plan. I’m safe.”
Rather, Jesus teaches us to store up treasures in heaven.
Why? Two reasons
One, heavenly things last!
Things like humility, generosity, kindness, love, grace, friendship
And these are not just things you’ll access one day when you die, but things in heaven are things you can access now, just as you can talk with your heavenly Father now.
19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Second, what you treasure gets your heart.
We become what we love. Just look at people (maybe it was you) who changed their hair because of the person they were dating…so if we prize inanimate objects it will follow that we too will become lifeless.
Humans weren’t meant to live in a box, it does things to you. Jesus means to free us in the kingdom life.
How do we store up treasures in heaven?
Jesus talks about the eye and lamps and the body...
It’s kind of this weird transition in verses 22 and 23.
But I think Jesus is speaking about our eyes in a way that is referring to generosity.
15 ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
So I could be wrong but I think Jesus is talking about generosity as a way we store up treasures in heaven.
If our eyes are only looking out for ourselves like the man who put away his grain in the barn, that shows the darkness in our hearts.
So Jesus places this choice before us in verse 24: you cannot serve two masters, God and money.
That word wealth refers to money, possessions, or riches. Your net worth.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 “But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Just as Moses put the choice before Israelites, Jesus puts the choice before his followers and now before us.
Who will you prize? God or your possessions?
Again, I don’t think retirement accounts are inherently evil. I think it’s wise to have life insurance, a will, and it’s nice to have a fridge. But God knows our hearts and when we prize anything else over him, the story of Scripture is that it’s like we’re worshiping bubbles in a fish tank.
What are you pursuing? What are you storing up? What makes you feel secure?
Pursue God over possessions. Why? People with a lot of stuff seem to be happy?
Pursue God over possessions because you can put your mind at ease.
25 “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. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Jesus is saying if we pursue God over possessions we can put our mind at ease.
Jesus uses the word worry 6 times in this section of Scripture.
Why? These people were worried. Anxious. Very concerned. They thought a lot about having enough to get by.
I don’t think I’ve ever worried about having enough food.
I’ve often said, “I’m worried I had too much food.”
In this pre-industrial society, food, and drink and clothes were images of provision and protection.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God.
Jesus uses this word ‘life’ and it’s the same word for soul.
And Jesus says why are you anxious about just having enough to eat when you are so much more than a stomach? You are more than a bank account, someone with a mortgage...
And then Jesus, the master of illustration gives too brilliant images....
The first is birds...
26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
That word look is to gaze at…give seriously thought to…deeply consider something...
Jesus is utilizing the world around him to teach about life with God.
Birds in Scripture are a picture of worry-free existence.
They can fly! Their minds are not bothered by what’s going on down here. They’re in the air.
And they’re also a picture of God’s grace. Birds don’t farm. They don’t plant seeds. They eat your grass seed. And yet they find food. Jesus is making a joke of sorts…you ever seen a bird plant wheat? How does it eat? You ever seen a bird barn? How do they always have enough food?
Your heavenly Father feeds them.
Jesus sees birds as examples of creatures that God provides for, and food itself as an image of God’s provision. Who gave Adam and Eve food? God! Who fed Israel with manna in the wilderness? God!
And Jesus says…I think you’re worth more than birds.
What is the current exchange rate of humans to crows?
Prize God over possessions and put your mind at ease because he cares for you.
This does not mean...
Prize God over possessions and you don’t have to work hard.
Do birds work hard? I’m not sure they’ve ever taken a nap.
I was watching a little sparrow make a nest in our hanging basket this week which I thought he should be worried about because I water it daily…but this little guy or gal was working hard.
And so Jesus isn’t saying don’t be diligent or don’t plan or don’t be wise with your money, but why worry when God is God who takes care of his creatures?
The second illustration is flowers...
28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
Why are you worried about clothing?
Are you worried about clothing? You probably thought about what you were going to wear today.
People in Jesus’ day worried about clothes.
Clothes symbolize beauty and having enough.
If an Israelite takes a neighbor’s garment in pledge, he is to return it before sundown because “it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover” (Ex 22:26–27 NRSV; 24:13).
But Jesus says don’t be overly concerned even about this. Why?
We can learn from flowers...
To observe is to learn from or notice these flowers...
I don’t know about you sometimes I picture Jesus in a setting where it’s always brown. Rocks and dust.
Cindy Petersen just came back from Israel and Cindy said how struck she was by how beautiful and green northern Israel is where Jesus was teaching.
And Jesus says learn from, observe, notice these flowers…they’re more vibrant and colorful and majestic than a royal King, and they don’t have closets. A flower doesn’t sew it’s clothes or go to the mall…no God gives flowers their beauty. So if he cares for a flower that may only last a few months, won’t he take care of you?
You little faiths!
31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When we prize God over possessions, we can put our mind at ease.
Why? Because God cares about you. God knows what we need.
“Worry has weight, and is an infinitely renewable resource. One might say worries are the only things you can make heavier by simply thinking about them.” - Tress of the Emerald Sea, Brandon Sanderson
“Worry has weight, and is an infinitely renewable resource. One might say worries are the only things you can make heavier by simply thinking about them.” - Tress of the Emerald Sea, Brandon Sanderson
I can get so tangled up in mental knots about “What ifs.” What if this changes, will we have health insurance, what if forest fires rage on and on and we have to move, what if what if what if...
Jesus invites us to let go of the weight of worry by looking at the world around us.
God takes care of birds. And you are worth a lot more than birds. Learn from flowers. God makes flowers incredibly beautiful, and you are so much more valuable than a rhodedendron. You have a Father who cares about what you need.
Jesus teaches us to prize God over possessions so we can set our minds at ease.
How does this hit you this morning?
We all handle money and possessions differently.
If you’re married, you know this! One person spends easily, the other is frugal…or another word for that is cheap.
Recently I bought a driver and I’ve been golfing my whole life and I have this aversion to spending money. I don’t think that’s sanctification because I have a hard time being generous.
And some of you are maybe a little too okay with spending money. We all have different habits.
I bet no one here considers themselves a greedy person. We’re not going to compare bank accounts today but I know many of us are in different financial situations.
Some of us own a home…some may rent, some may live in someone else’s home. Some of us have retirement accounts, some of us don’t. Some may have ROTH IRA’s, some may not know exactly what those are. Some of us may have a fridge or freezer in our garage with extra food, some of us may not have a garage. We’re all in different tax brackets, some of us draw from social security, some are on unemployment.
It’s also hard to receive this message objectively because we all know people who have more stuff than us.
So really I don’t need to hear this message, THEY do. The people in THAT neighborhood need it.
And we’ll get to the “Do not judge” passage next week, don’t worry.
But the reality is we all need to be honest about our relationship with money.
What do you prize? God or money? What makes you feel safe? What are you planning for to receive, what are you striving to get more of, what do you spend your time thinking about, watching videos about, listening to podcasts about, reading books about?
Worldly possessions have ruined many people but redeemed none.
Our hearts are shaped by what we love.
And if what we love decays over time, then so will our hearts.
But if what our hearts prize can never die...
Then we can have eternal life.
Money does not care about you. But God does.
The good news of the gospel is God gave up his prized possession - his only Son - to redeem you - his treasure.
Your stuff does not care about you. Your car does not care about you. Your house does not care about you.
Jesus emptied himself to save us. And he lived a life free of love of wealth giving us an example of how to live in service of God and others.
And by lowering himself to the point of death, Jesus is now raised to the highest seat in the universe.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
And if you prize him and turn from loving yourself and money, you can share in his life that will never ever ever die.
And you can set your mind at ease because God takes care of his children.
So prize him pursue life with him.
And know that one day for those who prize God over anything else, we will receive the city of gold.
18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.
Do you love God? Treasure him? Prize him? Anything else is like holding onto bubbles in a fish tank. And we’re not meant for that, it does things to us.
Prize God over possessions and put your mind at ease.
What would it look like for you this week to prize God over possessions and set your mind at ease?
Do you need to repent and prize Jesus for the first time?
Pray and ask for his forgiveness and ask him to give you his eternal life with him NOW. And be baptized!
Do you need to stop and smell the roses?
Stare at the trees in your yard and flowers and reflect on the fact that what’s most important in your life is not what you make but what God gives you.
Do you need to spend less?
Maybe take a week off from Amazon. Are you giving to the church as an act of worship to the God who gave to you?
How would you prize God in your thoughts?
We spend so much time thinking about ourselves, how might you prize Jesus and reflect on his goodness?
Make sure and say thanks to Rayce Whitson…Rayce has been in our Elder in Training program for the last 18 months and has served faithfully in praying for you guys, being a part of elder meetings, thinking through the life of the church. But in this season of life Rayce doesn’t have the bandwidth to step into eldership, and that’s okay! Just wanted to let you guys know so you could thank Rayce for his service.
Giving…giving to the church is a discipleship issue. How we spend our money reflects our hearts and what we love. Thank you for your generosity in support of our church. We are days away from switching to a new online giving platform.
If you are someone who gives automatically each month…you will have to do nothing.
On June 23rd your monthly gift will transfer automatically. In the coming weeks you can go to our website and just update your email and password that way you’ll be set in the new system.
If you are someone who gives manually only each month, you’ll just go to the same link, it just will look a little different for a short while.
And if you give via check, just tune us out. We love our check people.