Open-Heart Surgery

Open-Heart Surgery


“Open-Heart Surgery”
(Matthew 6:19-24)

Series: Money Matters: A 2-Part Series on Giving

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

First Baptist Church Henderson, KY

(1-6-08) (AM)


  • Take God’s Word and open to the book of Matthew, chapter 6.


We are beginning our first couple Sundays of the New Year as has been our custom.  For the past few years we have begun the New Year with two or three messages on Christian giving.  It’s not that our church is in need of money.  That’s not it at all.  In fact, we finished the year not only meeting budget but exceeding the budget by over $94,000.  This is not a desperate “Give your tithe so we can meet our budget sermon.”  I have never preached a sermon like that and I do not intend to.  Besides, I have learned that people don’t give to a budget, they give to vision.  They give to ministry.


So it’s not that the church is desperate for money.  No, for the past few years we have begun January with an emphasis on Christian giving because we believe the Bible teaches it and it’s wise to start off the New Year remembering our priorities with respect to money.  So we make no apology for preaching on this topic.  Here is a helpful little book available in our church library.  I picked it up a year or so ago and was blessed by its simple teaching.  This is Randy Alcorn’s book, The Treasure Principle.  Let me read a quick quote here from pages 8-9.  Alcorn is commenting on one of Jesus’ parables and he notes that the parable “is one of many references and illustrations Jesus made using money and possessions.  In fact, 15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic—more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.”  Financial stewardship is a biblical topic that needs to be preached.  Because we’re committed to preaching through God’s Word we’ve dealt with this topic of money every single time it’s in the text whether we’re in Acts, 1 Samuel, or the book of Revelation.  But it’s also wise to mark-off at least a couple Sundays to deal singularly with the topic.


So I’m bringing the first of a short, two-part series on giving entitled, “Money Matters.”  We’ll study a text this week and next that teaches us about the proper place of money and then, Lord willing, we’ll return to our series on Acts the week after next.  So today we’re in Matthew, chapter 6 and I’m going to begin reading at verse 19.


Now we’re going to stand for the reading of God’s Word.  I am so glad that we value highly the Word of God here at First Baptist.  I worshiped in two different churches while I was away last week and I was reminded that what we really believe about the Word is reflected in the way it is preached.  It’s reflected in the way it is handled by the preacher.  I was in a church Saturday evening and all of about 5 minutes was actually spent looking at a text.  5 minutes out of about a 30 minute talk.  Best I could tell I was the only person there who actually had a Bible.  There was no Gospel in the preaching.  There was no way for a lost person to know what to do.  The 30 minutes ended with a prayer and, “See you later.”


The Bible is God’s special revelation of Himself to us.  If we really believe God has revealed Himself to us in His Word then we’ll spend time opening His Word and hearing what He has to say.  This is the place of preaching.  This is why we are committed to expository preaching, opening up our Bibles and exposing what is there by going through a text, going through a passage, going through a paragraph, going verse-by-verse whenever possible, laying bear the meaning of the Word so that we see and hear God as He reveals Himself to us.  What we really think about the Bible is revealed in the way we handle it in preaching.  My words and jokes and stories are powerless to change your life.  The bulk of our time together should be spent hearing God in the Word.


  • Stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.


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. 

22 ” The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 

23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 

24 ” No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.


  • Pray.




A couple of months ago, in the November 26th issue of Time Magazine, there was an article by Nancy Gibbs entitled, “One Day in America.”  It’s about how Americans spend their money every day in America.  Let me give you just a few of these.  The article says that every day in America consumers spend their money on an average of:


• 3,972,603 movie tickets

• 1,683,835 songs and albums from on-line resources

• 1,650,000 DVD rentals from Netflix

• 978,030 bags of Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet popcorn

• 568,764 Titlest golf balls

• 443,650 large French fries at Burger King

• 160,968 bottles of Absolute Vodka

• 7,500 Samsung LCD TVs


I mention some of these figures to you because Jesus says in our passage this morning, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  These purchases give us at least a glimpse inside the average American heart.


Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  So here’s what I want us to do this morning. I want us each to do a little “open-heart surgery” this morning.  God is our surgeon.  He’s taking His scalpel, the Word, and He’s going to cut into our hearts and reveal what’s inside.  That’s the power of the Word of God.  God uses His Word to uncover our hearts.  The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”


This passage teaches that our hearts reveal some things about us.  First, our hearts reveal:


I.  The Place of our Affections (19-21)


19 ” Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 


When I read the word “treasures” there I think of Captain Cook and a treasure chest that opens-up with stacks of shimmering golden coins.  But Jesus has more in mind than that kind of treasure.  The original word there for treasure is the Greek word “qhsauro,j” from which we get our English word, “thesaurus.”  What is a thesaurus?  It’s a book that has all kinds of words in it.  It’s a treasury of words, a huge collection, a compendium of all kinds of different words.  The word here in the text is a word that refers to a huge collection of all kinds of riches, not just a treasury of golden coins, but a treasury of coins, currency, jewelry, clothing, houses, storehouses of grain, collectibles, all of the “stuff” that people of Jesus’ day valued.  Today’s treasury for Americans would include much of the same things.  We would add others, too: automobiles, boats, computers, big-screen TVs, vacation homes—those kinds of things.


Now keep in mind that we must read the Bible contextually.  There is the immediate context, the words that immediately precede and follow a given text, but then there is the wider context which includes ultimately the entire Bible.  So when we read here Jesus’ words about “not laying up treasures on earth,” we know that He is not saying it’s wrong to save and invest.  We know that because the context of the entire Bible teaches saving and investing.

If you’re reading a chapter of Proverbs as it coincides with the date then you read this morning—or will read later—Proverbs 6.  In Proverbs 6:6-8, the Bible says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”


2 Corinthians 12:14 says that parents ought to “lay up” things for their children.  They ought to invest and provide for their children.  And every child listening to this message said, “Amen!”


Bob Russell, former pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville tells about a time he was preaching a sermon on stewardship:


Once, in a sermon on hoarding, I pointed out the foolishness of waiting until we die to give our children their inheritance. I explained, “When we die, our children will be in their 50s or 60s. They likely won’t need our money then! And so, until their deaths, they hoard it from our grandchildren.


“The time to help our children is when they’re young and need the money. Our children will actually benefit from it, and we can hear them thank us instead of wondering if they quietly hope we croak early! And since we can transfer as much as $10,000 per child annually without the recipients paying taxes on the gift, it’s wiser to transfer resources when we’re living.”


Several weeks after the sermon I received a thank you letter from a young couple whose parents happened to be visiting that weekend. The wife explained that after hearing the sermon her parents sent her and her brother checks for $6,000. Nothing even close to that had ever happened before! The young woman wrote, “My brother and I call that the $6,000 sermon! Please preach more sermons on stewardship—especially when my parents are in town!”


Jesus is not telling us that we should not save and invest.  What He is saying is that it is wrong to place our affections on material things, selfishly hoarding them away because we think they will bring us personal satisfaction.  The truth is, they will not bring us satisfaction and they will not last.  That’s the point of Jesus’ mentioning the “moth, rust, and thieves.”  Someone observed, “Moths do not eat what you wear; only what you store.”  Only what you hoard.


Similarly, the word, “rust” there is sometimes translated “worm” because it may refer to the “eating away” of someone’s riches, like storehouses full of grain.  The point is that these are things that do not last.  They corrode.  They get damaged.  They fall apart.  They get stolen.


The verb translated “Do not lay up for yourselves” is in the imperative mood.  This is not a suggestion from Jesus.  When Jesus says, “Don’t” He means, “Don’t hurt yourself.”  When He says, “Lay not up for yourselves” He means, “I don’t want you to get your heart in the wrong place.  I don’t want you to set your affections on things that won’t last.”


Jesus knows our propensity to seek satisfaction from material things.  He knows full well our inclination toward greed.  We get a little and we want a little more.  We get a little more and we’re still not satisfied.  We want a little more.  Anybody watch “Deal or No Deal?”  You know what I’m talking about.  Give greed an inch and it’ll take a yard.


Does this mean we have to get rid of all of our material things?  Do I have to get rid of my new GPS that Santa Claus brought me?  I love that thing!  I can enter an address for anywhere in the United States and it will tell me, turn-by-turn, how to get there including when I will arrive.  I want to know if there’s a Starbucks nearby, I just enter “Starbucks” and it tells me where to drive.  I love it!


No, I don’t have to get rid of it.  But I must remember that it is only a thing.  I would be foolish to set my affections upon a thing because a thing will not last and, as Jesus says elsewhere, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses (Luke 12:15).”  God has given us money to be used not just for things like GPS devices or Starbucks coffee, but He has given money to be wisely and generously used to glorify Him by giving to others.  This takes us to the next verse.


20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 


Laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven happens by having an “others-focus” rather than a “self-focus.”  We’ve been reading about this in the book of Acts.  The early believers gave generously of their things to others.  Acts 2:45, for example, says that the believers, “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”


How do you lay up treasures in heaven?  By having an “others-focus.”  For example, every time you talk to somebody about Jesus you’re making a deposit in your heavenly bank account.  And these words apply to our Christian giving.  Every time you give your money to the Lord and His causes you are investing in something that will bring you eternal rewards.


We have a very giving church here at First Baptist.  You give an incredible 15% of the annual budget to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program, an umbrella fund from which comes support for a number of ministries including missions to North America and across the seas into countries all over the world.  That’s laying up treasures in heaven.


Every time you return your tithe, 10% of what God has given you, you are laying up treasures in heaven because your money will bless and benefit others.


21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 


That’s the truth, isn’t it?  You can tell what a man values by the way he uses his money.  His heart will be found in what he treasures.  What do you treasure?  One really practical exercise is to just pick up your checkbook and thumb-through it.  Look at where you’ve recorded the checks you have written.  It’s a helpful exercise to illustrate at least some of the things you treasure.


How much is in your heavenly bank account this morning?  How much have you invested in the lives of others?


Our hearts reveal what we treasure.  Our hearts reveal the place of our affections.  Secondly, our hearts reveal:


II.  The Depth of our Perception (22-23)


22 ” The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 

23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 


Jesus is speaking metaphorically here.  When He says “the lamp of the body is the eye” it’s like He’s saying that the eye is like a window that lets light inside.  If the window is clear then lots of light gets in.  If the window is dirty then not much light gets in.  So if the eye is good and clear then lots of light gets inside the body, but if the eye is bad and blurry and out-of-focus then there will only be darkness inside the body.


You see Jesus is talking here about the depth of our spiritual perception.  He uses the eye because it is with the eye that we see all of the material “stuff’ about us.  If we are more focused on the material stuff than the spiritual stuff then our vision is blurred.  We’re seeing only the material and not the spiritual.  If we’re not careful we may find ourselves walking in the dark, perhaps without even realizing it.


How many couples are here this morning who still have children living in the home?  Can I see your hands?  Consider well these verses.  How tempting it is for us to get our eyes focused on the accumulation of stuff and to work for success at the office and sequester our kids off somewhere so we can improve our social life with all the “up and comers” and our kids are growing up and we’ve lost that time we should have been spending with them.  If your eye is bad, says Jesus, your whole body will be full of darkness.  Get your focus right.  Make sure your spiritual perception, your spiritual eyesight is 20/20.  Otherwise, says Jesus, how great is the darkness within your soul.


How’s your open-heart surgery coming?  Our hearts reveal the place of our affections and the depth of our perception.  Thirdly, our hearts reveal:


III.  The Strength of our Devotion (24)


24 ” No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.


That word “mammon” there is an Aramaic word that means “riches.”  You cannot serve both God and riches.  You can’t have it both ways.  This is not a reference to somebody working two jobs.  A slave can only have one master.


The context is significant.  These words of Jesus are immediately followed by Jesus’ discourse on not worrying.  He concludes the discussion with verse 33, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  Be devoted to the Lord.


See, Christian giving is a matter of Lordship.  Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.”  That’s tithing.  If I believe Jesus Christ is Lord then I will tithe.  I will honor the Lord with my possessions, and with the firstfruits of my increase.  I will give 10% right off the top as the firstfruits of my increase each week.


As we conclude, let me give you two or three practical things I wrote down in my study.  I hope they help you, too.  Because of this teaching in the Bible, I can do these things:


1) I can resist the temptation to place my affections on things.


2) I can cultivate a generous spirit of giving, focusing on others rather than myself.


3) Because Christian giving is a matter of Lordship, I can honor the Lord with the “firstfruits” of my income every week (Proverbs 3:9) by tithing.


There’s a guy in one of Jesus’ parables in Luke chapter 12 known as “the rich young fool.”  Jesus tells the story to illustrate the truth that “a man’s life does not consist in the things he possesses.”  So Jesus tells us about this guy who’s into agriculture and he’s having a really good year or two.  The Bible says his ground yields plentifully so he decides he’ll just build bigger barns to store all of his crops.  He’s focused only on himself.  After building his new barns, the rich man says to himself, “Now, take it easy.  You’ve got all this stuff stored up.  Eat, drink, and be merry.”  Jesus tells how the story ends: “But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?’”  That is, “You fool.  Tonight you will die and you will leave everything behind.  You are a fool.”  Then Jesus ends the story with these words: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”


So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.  Jesus says if we lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, hoarding them away, storing them up so that we can take it easy, neglecting our relationship with the One True God and using the monies He has given for His glory—then we are fools.  I don’t want to be a fool.  Do you?


  • Stand for prayer.


We said that Christian giving is about having an “others-focus.”  We give so that we can bless others.  That’s what God did for us.  He was rich, yet for our sakes become poor…

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