Community Group Study Guide — Seeking Treasure
We live in a culture of abundance with wealth all around us. If you’re reading this on a phone or a computer, you’re likely more wealthy than 90% of the world. Many of us hear this and can feel a twinge of guilt, as if it would be more spiritual to be poor. Maybe you have even heard that sentiment taught in the past when someone brought up the “Rich Young Ruler” (Matthew 19:16-22) or early church monks. For others of us, there is very real greed and coveting that comes with living in this world; we chase after the newest vehicles, styles of clothing or technology. We even justify our purchasing habits and make excuses for greed. Again, when the “Rich Young Ruler” passage gets discussed we can quickly jump to the idea that “well, money was just this guys’ idol” as if it is not a real struggle for many of us living in the Bay Area. The point is whether you have money or not we cannot easily escape interacting with wealth, possessions and money while we are living in this world. The goal is to bring those thing into submission to God as we serve him as our Master (Matthew 6:24).
In this new section of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus addresses the relationship of his disciples to the world as he explores wealth, worry and judgmental attitudes (Matthew 6:19-7:6). In this first section, Jesus walks us through three pairs of “twos” (Matthew 6:19-24) to help us understand how we should interact with wealth, money and possessions. Jesus will… affirm your desire to seek after treasure, its relationship to your heart and how what you chase after determines who you worship.
First, there are two ways to store up treasure. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us that we can either lay up treasure on earth or in heaven. The word “store up” and “treasure” in the original language are the same root word, which means Jesus is saying to us “do not treasure treasure on earth” and instead “treasure treasure in heaven.” Storing up treasure on earth is not simply having possessions, but finding our security and satisfaction in the things of this world. Jesus warns us against this by showing us that it is a bad investment. If your joy and hope are tied to possessions, money and wealth that means your joy and hope are at great risk. Things of this world can easily be ruined or stolen by “moth, rust and thieves”. In the ancient world your wealth would be tied to your clothing, precious metals or things in your home all of which were at great risk. The encouragement here isn’t to have nothing, but to not make them your treasure. We can store up treasure in heaven when we bring our possession into the service of God and we use them as tools for what God is doing in the world which means that we are generous and ready to share, seek to do good with them and enjoy what he’s given us (1 Timothy 6:17-19). The goal is not to have nothing, but to find our contentment and hope in heaven. Whatever is stored up in heaven is truly a better and more secure investment. It cannot be corrupted by moth or rust, or stolen by thieves. Seek to bring all of your possessions and wealth into submission to God, enjoyed for what they are, used for his good purposes and not worshipped as something to ultimately live for.
Second, there are two ways to see. Jesus elaborates on Matthew 6:21, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, with the image of a good eye and a bad eye. The eye is used as a synonym for the heart. The heart in scripture is not just a source of feelings, but the command center of your life determining what you chase after and desire. The eye is used here to show us that what we look at fills and shapes our entire life. A good eye will act as a lamp to the body, filling it with light. A bad or “evil” eye will fill the body with darkness. Where you set your gaze determines where your life goes. An eye set on selfishness or the temporary things of this world will be one that is filled with discontent, coveting and will look to these temporary things to fulfill eternal longings (1 Timothy 6:6-10). What you look at, scroll through and think about are not just neutral; they shape and form you image by image.
Finally, there are two masters you can serve. You will give your life to someone or something. Jesus ends this section by talking about how this is really an issue or idolatry and what you look to as “god” (Matthew 6:24). To be “devoted” is to hold on or cling to something. There may be times where you may think you can live for God and money, but when they come into conflict the one you love most will win the day and you will turn your back (hate) on the other. Jesus is imploring us to have rightly ordered loves, to love and serve God first and foremost so we can have a right relationship with the things of this world instead of looking to them to fill up what only God can satisfy. If we take Matthew 6:21 and 6:24 together, you can tell who you worship and who is master in your life by what you dream/think about, how you spend your money and what occupies your time. The goal isn’t to fully disengage from the world or to own nothing… the goal is to not be owned by things of this world.
How is your relationship with wealth, money and possessions? Do you find yourself caught up in greed and are you pursing a hoarding mentality when it comes to these things? Are you fraught with guilt over spending money on even little items? Jesus desires that your perspective shifts and that you set your mind on the things above. When our love for God outweighs our love for things of this world we are more able to store up treasure in heaven and use what he has given us as a way to bless others with generosity and enjoy them for what they are instead of worshipping them as Lord.
Pursuing treasure is a core aspect to our humanity. Jesus affirms this pursuit but directs our eyes to chase after treasure in heaven rather than treasure in this world. Storing up treasure in heaven is a better investment, more secure and allows us to be devoted to God over things of this world.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Matthew 6:19-24
What does Jesus tell us about storing up treasure on earth vs. treasure in heaven? (You may want to jump down to question 4 to help answer this question).
What is the relationship between your eyes and seeking after treasure in this world?
This passage speaks to idolatry and serving things in this world as our “master/lord”. How do you know if you’re serving wealth instead of serving God?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19. How do these verses explain some of the ways we can apply Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 6:19-24? How do they help us see what “storing up treasure in heaven” looks like?
As a follower of Jesus in the Bay Area, what can you fight against making wealth your master? How can you use your wealth in service to God’s kingdom?