We Care When We Spend: Habits & The Heart, Part 2

Faith Promise Devotional Series: Day 2, Tuesday January 26, 2016

[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.” (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)

 

We Care When We Spend: Habits & The Heart, Part 2

As Jesus’ words demonstrate in verse 21, we spend when we care. Our willingness to open our wallets is ultimately an expression of our heart, its longings, and the cause(s) for which we live. Our hearts can either long for this earthly life and all its trappings, or for the kingdom of heaven that Jesus will bring to earth (v. 20). But what is a follower of Jesus to do when they evaluate their life and find that their heart is more invested in this earthly life than in God’s heavenly kingdom?

In Jesus’ words we find an answer. Ironically, the connection between our hearts and our habits not only means that “we spend when we care” but also that “we care when we spend.” Here, Jesus not only states that our financial habits reveal our hearts, but he also calls his disciples to new habits that would cultivate a heart that longs for heaven. Jesus’ words in verses 19-20 contain several imperative commands that call followers of Christ to create habits that cultivate a heart that longs for heaven. Jesus calls his followers to invest, or “lay up” (vv.19-20), their “treasures in heaven” rather than on earth. By investing our resources in the work of God’s heavenly kingdom we will find that our heart will follow. We spend when we care, but we also care when we spend.

We have all experienced that our hearts quickly cultivate a growing concern when our resources are personally involved. It is amazing how differently a child will treat a toy that they have saved for and purchased themselves. An adult for whom the stock market was once only meaningless numbers and abbreviations becomes suddenly meaningful when their ability to someday retire and survive is tied to its performance. The college student who is forced to pay for their own tuition will develop study habits and a personal drive to succeed that they somehow seemed to lack before. When we spend, we care.

Of course, the same is true as we invest our personal resources in the work of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus is bringing to earth. Like you, I sometimes receive emails and letters from various missionaries providing an overview or update on the work they are doing and expressing a financial need. Like you, some I read, and some I don’t. What differentiates the ones I read from the ones I don’t? Very simply, the ones I am motivated to read, pray for and respond to are from the people or organization I am personally invested in through our financial support, prayer and personal relationships. By developing habits of investing in the work of God’s heavenly kingdom, we find that our heart for that kingdom grows. Our heart and hunger for an eternal impact that will never rust, fade, or can be stolen away begins to exceed our heart for toys that break, or stocks whose earnings wax and wane. It works both ways. We spend when we care and we care when we spend.

However, while our financial habits may create a greater love for God’s kingdom in our hearts they do not cause God’s heart to swell with a greater love for us. Our financial investment in the work of God’s heavenly kingdom does NOT earn us the favor of the King or entrance into his kingdom. Jesus’ words here in Matthew 6:19-21 are part of his famous “Sermon on the Mount” that we find in Matthew 5-7. Here, Jesus’ primary audience is followers of Christ, “disciples” (see Matt. 5:1-2). These “disciples” are men and women who have already responded to the gospel message of faith in Him and repentance from sin that Jesus proclaimed (see Matt. 4:17, 23). It is by faith that a person becomes a citizen of Jesus’ heavenly kingdom. However, it is by instruction, such Jesus’ words here, that a person learns to live out their heavenly citizenship here on earth. 

Do you find yourself uninterested in the work that God is doing around the world? Consider personally investing your money in the work of a missionary and watch your heart follow. Do you feel like a spectator rather than a participant in the kingdom God is building through your local church? Evaluate your own habits of stewardship and take steps for greater faithfulness. This year’s Faith Promise Pledge Drive is just such an opportunity. Make a decision to participate in this year’s Faith Promise Funds and watch God grow your heart for heaven.

Use the Questions below to reflect on the state of your own heart. Take a few minutes throughout the day to process your answers with your heavenly Father through prayer. Recognize that your heavenly Father already knows your answers, and longs to grow you as His child. Ask for his help as you process and pray.

1. How have you personally seen your heart for something grow as a result of your personal investment in it?

2. Do you personally feel like a spectator or participant in the work that God is doing through your local church? How do you think growing in your habit of financial giving to the work of missions might impact your heart for the missions work your church supports?