Building Strong and Storing Up Treasure – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

I Corinthians 3:10-14
Matthew 6:19-24

When I was in seminary – now, quite a few years ago – I took a course in preaching.  Whether or not it did me any good, I’ll let you decide.  One of the things I remember from that class was the professor’s admonition to first seek out the tone and intention of the text, and then craft a sermon that reflects that same tone and intention.  In other words, consider the author’s purpose and follow it.  If the text is written to encourage its readers, your sermon should be encouraging as well.  If the text is hopeful, your sermon should reflect that hope.  If the text is condemning of a certain attitude or behavior, you should translate that into a similar warning that modern-day hearers can hear and understand.

The two texts we have before us today seem to share a common tone or intention.  They seem to be cautioning us that our choices and our actions, our work and our personal interactions, have consequences that are long-lasting.

The first text, taken from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, uses the metaphor of building.  Paul claims he has laid a foundation, which is Jesus Christ, and that others, including us today, will be building upon that foundation.  What we say or do matters, because by our words and deeds we will be contributing to the strength of the building or detracting from it.  Paul promises that each person’s work will, at some point, be tested by fire.  If it is strong and pure, it will survive.  If not, it will go up in flames.

Paul’s words are an invitation to us to look at our lives, to examine ourselves whether our lives and our work, our interactions with others, the values we hold and perpetuate, are pure enough and worthy enough to withstand the day of testing.  Consider your own life.  Will your words and deeds be strong enough and pure enough to survive?  Do they build up and encourage others?  Do they strengthen the communities of which you are a part?  Is what you speak true and honest, loving and uplifting?  Do your words and actions have lasting value?  Or are you building with straw?

Our second text, drawn from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, is a warning against the misuse of wealth.  Jesus had a lot to say about money.  He was very aware of how easily money could become an unhealthy attachment and how easily it could turn us away from things that were truly valuable.  He is very clear here: “No one can serve two masters” because either they will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.  Serving God and serving wealth at the same time will simply not work.  Our hearts will be divided in a way that will cripple us and limit our effectiveness.

Money is only one thing among many that can capture our attention and distract us from what is good and valuable and right.  Once we have set our hearts on something – whether it be wealth or popularity or physical beauty or social status or material possessions or whatever else – our desire for that thing controls our decisions, our interactions with others, our life’s direction.  We are storing up treasures on earth, and while they are no doubt enjoyable for a time, they will not and they cannot last.  These things are passing away.  When we stand before God, our wealth, our popularity, our physical beauty, our social status, our material possessions, will not matter in the least.  God looks on the heart and God will see whether we have been loving, compassionate, faithful and true.  God looks for the “heavenly treasure” that will not pass away.

As Paul says elsewhere, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is an excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, thing about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Only we can know where our true treasure lies.  Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

Take heed, then.  Build strong.  Build to last.  Store up heavenly treasure.  Pause frequently to examine your heart, your intention, your motivation, your goals, your purpose.  Choose carefully what you do.  “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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  1. Pedro on May 11, 2024 at 10:00

    A great sermon! Thank you very much, Brother David.

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