I am serving Jesus of course, you might answer! But if we are honest with ourselves as we reflect on our lifestyles and choices, we must confess that perhaps we might be serving something or someone other than Jesus. It has been suggested an examination of your calendar (how you spend your time) and your checkbook (how you spend your money) could provide a pretty accurate picture of what you value and who or what you serve.
The rich young ruler in the New Testament asked Jesus “…what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded with the admonition to keep the commandments, to which the ruler said, “I have kept all these things from my youth up.” This was no ordinary person; he had kept the commandments and was clearly following the Jewish tradition. Yet he felt he lacked something, so he made his inquiry. Jesus’ response cut to the quick (Mark 10:21-22): “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
I have had the opportunity to speak in many churches and meet with hundreds of couples regarding matters of money, possessions and faith. I have personally found the majority of those attending most Sunday morning services are indebted to the point of bondage. It seems we often give lip service to the God of the universe, but we bow down to the god of money and possessions. Jesus said “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.” (Matthew 6:24).
So much advertising and marketing today is designed to get you to spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need in order to impress people you don’t know! According to the Federal Reserve of New York Q4 2018 report, total household debt rose by $32 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 to reach $13.54 trillion. The total household debt is now $869 billion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008.
Jesus had a better way. “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6: 31-33)
Regarding the idea of storing up treasure for the future, Jesus didn’t actually challenge the notion of storing up treasure. Rather, he encouraged his followers to store up their treasure where it would be safe and reflect their values: in heaven. Matthew 6:19-21 says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
How do we store up treasure in heaven? Paul says to Timothy “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (italics mine).
The secret to really living life at its fullest—to really getting all there is out of life—is to trust God to meet our daily needs, to be rich in good works and to be generous and ready to share. In so doing we will see the wonder and power of God’s hand as he provides daily and we will have the satisfaction of knowing we are storing up treasures in heaven. It all comes down to the simple question: Who do you serve?