I am preparing to speak at our annual Kids’ Express graduation this coming Thursday evening. I am excited to see the little ones who have gone through our program showcase what they have learned over the past 3 or 4 years. The best testimony of their hard work is when they enter kindergarten far ahead of their piers who did not attend Kids’ Express. I am so thankful for our teachers and leaders in Kids’ Express, as well as the parents who are working hard to invest in their little gifts from the Lord.
In the past, I have spoken about the importance of investing in the spiritual lives of our kids, just as much as we invest in their physical needs, education, and hobbies.
This time, I want to speak on the great calling that God has for us as believers, especially parents. In order to understand this great calling, we need to turn to the Sermon on the Mount, preached by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 5-7.
I. Seek first the kingdom of heaven
In Matthew 6:33, we find the verse where the title of this paragraph comes from. Many people have read this verse, and probably memorized it. The question is, “how do we seek first the kingdom of heaven”? If you ask 10 different people this question, you will probably get 10 different answers. Instead of “guessing” what this verse means, we need to take a look at the context of the Sermon on the Mount and see what Jesus meant when He taught it. His meaning is the meaning that we want to know, understand, and apply. Many people will tell you that this means that you need to start off the day with Bible study and prayer so that you “put God first” and then get on with your daily activities. Is that what Jesus had in mind when He taught it? In order to answer that, let’s take a peak a few verses up in the text and see if Jesus may have hinted at the meaning. Keep in mind, this verse is part of a larger teaching. The audience who heard Matthew 6:33 had also just heard Matthew 6:19-20.
II. Store up treasures in heaven
If you just read Matthew 6:19-20, you probably have already discovered where the title of this paragraph came from.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In order to seek first the kingdom of heaven, although we live on the earth, we are told to spend our time on the earth storing up treasures in heaven. Again, if you ask 10 different people how do we store up treasures in heaven, you will probably get 10 different answers. Instead of “guessing” what this verse means, we need to take a look at the context of the Sermon on the Mount and see what Jesus meant when He taught it. Clearly, our natural tendency is to use the time and resources that we have here on this earth to store up treasures here. That is natural for us and that is why Jesus commands us not to do that. Instead, we are commanded to use the resources that we have here on this earth to seek first the kingdom by storing up treasures in heaven. So, how can I live on the earth and use the resources of earth to store up treasures in heaven? What are the two things that are on the earth that have the potential to be in heaven? The first one is revealed to us by Jesus, Himself, in the Gospel of Mark 13:
31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
The Word of God is here on the earth, yet, at the same time, It is eternal and will never pass away. It will be in the kingdom of heaven. The second thing on the earth that has the potential to be in heaven is people. In order to store up treasures in heaven, somehow, we have to get the Word of God to cross paths with the people around us. Would the audience of the Sermon on the Mount have been given any insight into this goal of having the Word intersect with people? Yes, they had just heard that very thing in Matthew 5:17-19.
III. Keep the Word and Teach It to others
Jesus revealed to His audience the secret of seeking first the kingdom by storing up treasures in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Seeking first the kingdom by storing up treasures in heaven means, hearing the Word of God, understanding the Word of God, applying the Word of God to your life, and then using the Word of God to teach others to do the same thing that you do; hear, understand, apply, and share with others. In other words, make disciples as Jesus commanded His followers to do in Matthew 28:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always *, even to the end of the age.”
Take the time and resources that you have on this earth to seek people in whom to invest the Word of God. The majority of your monthly income is probably used on housing and food so how can that be used for the kingdom of heaven? Have you considered your home as a hub for discipleship, teaching your children, first and foremost, the Word of God? Have you considered having a Bible study in your home with your children’s neighborhood friends? Have you ever invited your neighbors over for dinner and a Bible study? Your home and your food have now become tools to allow you to store up treasures in heaven. Maybe the majority of your time is spent at work. How can you use that time to invest in the kingdom? You are probably surrounded by coworkers. Have you ever invited them to lunch to share from the Word? I was teaching a man once and I asked him that very question. His response was that his coworkers were not interested in spiritual things. I advised him to pray and ask God to open up an opportunity for him to share. A couple of weeks later, he came to me asking for the Biblical view of marriage, abortion, capital punishment, and homosexuality. I asked why and he told me that on break one day, his coworkers were talking politics and he shared about a Bible study that he and I had done on how to vote according to the will of God. Upon that, he was bombarded with questions about the previous subjects. We studied each one and he went back and shared with his coworkers. He began having mini Bible studies at work during breaks and lunch. He was storing up treasures in heaven by investing the Word of God in the lives of the people around him.
May the Lord help us seek first His kingdom by storing up treasures in heaven with the resources that we have here on the earth!