This is the final article in The Solid Rock Principles of Jesus series. Previous articles are always available at http://www.webbweekly.com.
The solid rock principle of eternity addresses treasure. It explores the question: Where is my heart? See Matthew 6:19-24.
It is the big question of life. It has long been asserted that the most effective way to discover our true priority (heart) is to investigate what we believe about money — how we value it — and how we spend it.
It’s not a question of wealth or poverty—poor and rich alike can be guilty of envy and greed, prejudice and pride. It’s what you believe about money that matters. Do you believe money can solve all of your problems and provide you with security, happiness, freedom, and meaning?
If yes, then money is your master, and the pursuit of it controls your life. Money offers the ability to live in defiant independence of God, to declare, “I don’t need God. I can do it myself.” This was Israel’s repetitive mistake. See Deuteronomy 6:10-12. It is the worship of money that allows us to be the masters of our own destiny. It’s the same defiant pride trap that caught Adam and Eve. See Genesis 3:5.
Jesus knows the defiance lurking in the human heart. He was not ambiguous when teaching about money: No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24
If you are serving money, then your focus is on building treasure on earth. If you are serving God, then your focus is on building treasure in eternity. So, where is your heart?
There is a fatal flaw in the worship of money: nothing satisfies, and nothing lasts. The eye and the stomach always want more. What we hoard runs out, rots, or gets stolen. Hoarding creates great worry because it’s all at risk. The pursuit and the risk result in exhaustion and meaninglessness—a slavery to chasing after the wind—and then you die. See Ecclesiastes 1. This is the fate of those who build their lives on the shifting sand of the here and now.
Jesus is aware of our struggle. He asks in Matthew 16:26, What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Your soul is eternal. This world and all of its stuff isn’t.
According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, we were made for eternity. We were created to live forever in an eternal kingdom that has no end and never runs out. The solid rock principle of eternity frees us from the tyranny of defiant independence and the burden of meaningless wind-chasing. It defines what we value, clarifying our treasure decisions and resulting in unshakeable purpose, contentment, peace, and hope. See Philippians 4:4-18.
The Disciplines of Eternity
1. Trust. Jesus teaches us to not worry. See Matthew 6:25-34. A calm and contented spirit is a byproduct of trust. Do we trust God or not? Chronic worry is an indicator of distrust.
Jesus’ anxious prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane helps us. He was worrying about the suffering He would soon endure. He desperately probed God to see if there was any other way. He agonized openly as His anxiety increased. The temptation to run from God’s eternal redemptive plan was brutal. Why? Because it meant letting go of everything this world had to offer. He passionately pleaded His case for divine intervention.
And this is where the principle of eternity comes in – Jesus concluded each session of prayer by placing His trust in His Father’s eternal plan: Yet not my will be done, but yours. See Luke 22:42.
When God’s answer didn’t change, Jesus overcame temptation through trusting obedience. Trust in the eternal will of His heavenly Father resolved Jesus’ dilemma. He got up from prayer and got on with it.
We don’t need to pretend to be happy about potential suffering. It’s okay to agonize with friends and to plead our case before God. But when we’re done, our trust must be placed fully in our Father’s eternal redemptive plan. Trust in the eternal is what gives us the resolve to get on with “it” — whatever “it” may be. See Philippians 2 and Proverbs 3:5-6.
2. Generosity. Jesus teaches us to be generous. With God, there is always more — eternally more! Jesus commanded us, Freely you have received, freely give. See Matthew 10:8.
This world is defined by scarcity and stinginess. God’s eternal kingdom is defined by unlimited abundance and generosity. Paul declares in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory.”
In the Kingdom of God, there is an eternal and inexhaustible supply. Do we live like we believe it? Scarcity thinking results in fear and worry, stinginess, and greed. When we put our trust in the eternal abundance of heaven, the result is joyful generosity with God (a cheerful giver) and with each other.
3. Stewardship. Jesus teaches us to be wise stewards. Everything belongs to our eternal God and His eternal kingdom. Everything. Nothing belongs to us. We are not owners. God has not equipped us to be owners. When we assume ownership, it produces a burden of stress and worry we were not designed to bear. God designed us to be stewards of creation. Genesis 2:15 says, The LORD took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. At no point was mankind given ownership of anything. Accepting our design as stewards changes our perspective. It sets us free from the worrisome bondage of ownership, loosens our tight-fisted grip on stuff, sets us free from keeping up with the Joneses, and provides us with an eternal treasure in heaven. See Matthew 25.