“Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also”
(Luke 12:32-40 – Pentecost 12 – September 1, 2019)
Luke 12:32-40 – “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Dear Redeemed, to whom God is giving eternal treasures in Christ:
In today’s Old Testament and Epistle lessons (Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16), we are reminded that God’s children live by faith. We heard of the faith of Abraham, who received God’s promises regarding his offspring, through whom the Savior of the world was to come. Abraham left behind his homeland and followed God’s promise, and we read in Genesis 15:6: “[Abraham] believed in the LORD, and [the LORD] accounted it to him for righteousness.” Again in Hebrews 11:1, we are reminded: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Like Abraham, our God-given faith looks beyond what is seen in this world and clings to His promises of better things to come. We join that father of faith who “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Like Abraham, we live as “strangers and pilgrims on earth”; and as God’s children by faith, it may also be said of us: “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:10, 13, 16).
These thoughts concerning faith’s focus and goal are combined with Jesus’ words in our Gospel lesson. Here our Savior reminds us: “Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also.” First He comforts us with that wonderful promise: 1) It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Then in view of that heavenly kingdom and riches that are ours in Christ, He encourages us to 2) Use the things of this world as joyful stewards of His grace. And finally, resting in His gracious promise of salvation and eternal life, the words of Jesus encourage us to 3) Eagerly await your Savior’s coming again to bring you home.
1) It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What comforting words our Savior speaks to us! Because he knows the dangers and fears we face; but even more importantly, he knows the certainty of our salvation which He won for us.
In the context of Luke 12, Jesus has been speaking to the dangers and fears His disciples face in this world. He has addressed the dangers of false teachers, pointing to the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. Jesus has addressed the danger of temptation to fear the persecution of the world, and therefore to be ashamed of Him and deny Him. He has addressed the danger of temptation to set our heart on this world’s riches, in the parable of the covetous rich man whose soul was required of him that night. And Jesus has also warned His followers against the temptation to be anxious and fearful about our needs life, worried about what we will eat or drink or wear; reminding us: “Your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:30-31).
So we come to the opening words of our text as Jesus speaks a comforting promise to strengthen our faith: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Yes, as the sheep of our Good Shepherd’s hand, we will always seem little and insignificant to the eyes of this world and be thought of as weak and foolish for the sake of Christ. Yes, we will always face dangers on every side in this world, as the evil foe snarls at us with his lies, temptations, and threats. And yes, as long as we live in this world we will struggle against our own flesh, all too often losing the battle to sin. “And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,” at times we will be tempted to fear that all is lost, to doubt the love of God for us sinners, and even to despair of our place in His kingdom. But take heart, little flock: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).
First and foremost, of “all things” that God is freely giving us in Christ, it is His good pleasure to give us His kingdom. Our place in His kingdom is not by chance, but by God’s choice. It is not by our merit, but by God’s grace. It was His pleasure from all eternity to choose us in Christ, as Ephesians 1:4-5 says: “[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” It is that good pleasure of God in choosing to make us His children that led Him not to spare His own Son, but to deliver Him up for us all. On the cross, Jesus purchased us for the kingdom of God with His precious blood. There, the innocent Son removed all our sin that stood against us, reconciling us to His Father in peace. And now God our Father, having chosen us from eternity in Christ, and having purchased us by the blood of His Son, has sealed us with His Holy Spirit and faith, guaranteeing our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:7-14). Therefore no matter what dangers, temptations, and trials we face in this world, Jesus gives us His comforting Word: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
2) Use the things of this world as joyful stewards of His grace
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, promises graciously to give us “all things.” Therefore as children of our heavenly Father whom He loves and cares for, as heirs of His everlasting kingdom, Jesus goes on to encourage us to use the things of this world as joyful stewards of His grace.
He says: “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus is not saying we must give up everything we own, but He is reminding us of what we are living for. What is most important to us will show by our priorities. If our heart is set on worldly treasures, then our daily desires, plans, and actions will be focused on getting these things. If our heart is set on heavenly treasures, it will show in how we prioritize the things of God’s kingdom.
How easily our faith’s focus is distracted. Instead of looking beyond what is seen to promises of better things to come, we get focused on money bags that grow old, treasures that fail, things that thieves can steal and moths can destroy. How easy it is to seek first the things of this world, to pour our time, abilities, and money into the kingdom we want to establish for ourselves here. Thus we feel we do not have time or energy left for God’s Word and prayer, or serving in His kingdom, or sharing our hope in Christ with others. So we end up living for ourselves in a selfish way.
But here, in view of His eternal promises, Jesus reshapes our priorities. Since God is pleased to give us His heavenly Kingdom, it changes how we view the things He gives us in this world. Since God is pleased to give us eternal life in Christ, it gives us a new reason to live here and now. 2 Corinthians 5:15 reminds us: “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
Consider the example of Abraham, and how faith’s focus moved him to live for the Lord. God had graciously promised him and his descendants that they would inherit the land of Canaan. Thus we see that when it came time for Abraham to settle, God’s generosity moved him to give the best choice of the land to his nephew Lot – and thus to care for the needs of his loved ones. There in the land of Canaan, surrounded by pagan religions, we hear of Abraham building altars and calling on the name of the Lord in worship. Again, we hear of Abraham giving a generous tithe to the Lord through the high priest Melchizedek. And we even hear of Abraham willing to sacrifice his only beloved son Isaac, in full devotion to the Lord, before he was stopped. Why did Abraham do such things? Since he trusted the Lord’s giving him “all things” in Christ, even everlasting life, this led him to devote his whole life, all that he had, and all that he loved, in service to the Lord. With faith’s sight set on that “city which has foundations,” that “heavenly country,” Abraham could share the Lord’s generosity in this world as a joyful steward of His grace, sharing the saving grace of God in Christ with others around him. Where his treasure was, there his heart was also.
The more we see how God is generously giving us “all things” in Christ, the more it makes us into joyful stewards of His grace too. As we set our hearts on that “treasure in the heavens that does not fail,” it moves us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in Christ. The grace of God in Christ moves us joyfully to make a priority of being in His Word for our own spiritual well-being. Then, the grace of God in Christ moves us to devote the time, abilities, and treasures He gives us in this life to serve to His glory and for the good of others. The grace of God in Christ moves us to use the earthly resources He gives to spread the treasure of His Gospel in the world, so that many more people may be brought into His kingdom by faith.
3) Eagerly await your Savior’s coming again to bring you home
As we live each day with our hearts set on heavenly treasures, knowing God is giving us “all things” in Christ, we also eagerly await our Savior’s coming to bring us home.
This is what Jesus pictures as He goes on to say: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.”
In Jesus’ day, the long robes they wore had to be girded up by a belt around the waist before one could move quickly or serve in certain ways. In the days of Moses, the Israelites were told to do this during the first Passover. In the darkness of that evening, as they ate the flesh of the lamb and the unleavened bread, they were dressed and ready to move on in haste. With their loins girded, they were prepared for the Lord to bring them out of Egypt and onward to the Promised Land (Exodus 12:8-11).
So also, spiritually speaking, we stand dressed and ready for our Lord’s coming to take us home to the Promised Land of heaven. Jesus is like that master who has gone away to a wedding. Having given His life on the cross in love for His Bride, He ascended into heaven. There He celebrates the wedding feast of the Lamb with the saints, Abraham and all whom He has already brought home, by grace through faith.
As we yet live through the dark night hours of this passing world, we do not know when Jesus will return and that glorious new day will dawn for us. But we stand ready to meet Him, our lamps of faith burning. We stand ready as those who are baptized into Christ, having washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). We stand ready as our Passover Lamb feeds us His true flesh and blood in His Holy Supper, forgiving us, strengthening us.
And Jesus says: “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.” Wonder of wonders! When our Master returns, He will exchange roles with His servants. The Lord of all, who once came into this world as the Servant of all, even laying down His life for us, will come again to serve us the rich portions of His marriage feast. As the Holy Bride of Christ, He who loves us will bring us to share in His heavenly joys.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Like Abraham, we treasure God’s promises and our inheritance in Christ. We rejoice that it is our heavenly Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. As He is giving us all things in Christ, we are moved to use the things of this world as joyful stewards of His grace. And we eagerly await our Savior’s coming again, when He will turn our faith into sight, in that blessed Kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.