Sunday’s sermon: Willing to FORGIVE

Text used – Matthew 18:15-35

  • This year, throughout the season of Lent, we’re going to be exploring different facets of willingness. But willingness can be a complex thing.
    • Element of willingness that requires sacrifice – often a willingness to lay one thing aside or forgo one thing in order to shoulder another
      • Sometimes means a setting aside of self → making space for another
        • For the wisdom & experiences of another
        • For the concerns and challenges of another
        • For the needs of another
    • Can be an element of obligation to willingness → being willing to do something even though it may feel dull, compulsory, or rote
    • Willingness requires dedication → Even if whatever you’re willing to do is something obligatory, you have to be dedicated to something in order to keep doing it.
      • Dedicated to the person that asked you to do it
      • Dedicated to the cause/purpose behind it
      • Dedicated to an outcome or at least a potential outcome
      • This is sort of the way I view laundry. I’m willing to do it even though I find it the most dull and obligatory of household chores because I’m dedicated to the outcome: clean clothes! → a silly example, to be sure, but you get the picture
    • Willingness can also bear beautiful, unexpected fruit
      • So throughout Lent, we’re going to be walking through some of Jesus’ parables and teachings from the gospel of Matthew, each of which has something particular to say to us about the inextricable role of willingness in our faith.
        • Today: forgiveness
        • Next week: fairness
        • Also:
          • Responding to God’s call
          • Preparing to do God’s work
          • Generous welcome/hospitality
          • Reverence/honoring God
          • Going out and sharing our faith
  • Before we dive too deep into this morning’s passage, let’s situate ourselves in Mt’s gospel a little → made a pretty big jump from last week’s text out of Mt 7 to this morning’s text in Mt 18
    • Passage from Mt 7 last week was toward the end of Sermon on the Mount
    • Btwn then and today’s text
      • Lots of healing/casting out demons
      • Jesus calls his disciples
      • Lots of teachings, incl. other well-known parables
        • Parable of the sower/seeds[1]
        • Parable of the mustard seed[2]
        • Parable of the lost sheep[3]
      • Miracles like feeding the 5000[4] and Jesus walking on water[5]
      • Death of John the Baptist at the hands and whim of the Romans[6]
      • Even Jesus predicting his own death and resurrection not once but twice![7]
    • Suffice it to say that a significant portion of Jesus’ ministry has taken place. He’s built up quite the reputation between last week and this week!
  • Turning to this week’s text
    • Two separate sections of Scripture that don’t usually get stitched together in lectionary readings
      • Subtitles from my Common English Bible: “Sinning brother or sister” (vv. 15-20) and “Parable of the unforgiving servant” (vv. 21-35)
      • But the thread that does that stitching is clear: these passages are held together by forgiveness.
  • First section involves community in forgiveness
    • Beginning of passage talks about how to approach someone you’re having an issue with (or who has an issue with you)
      • First, approach them alone → Note: Jesus doesn’t say, “Blast them in a public forum like a community Facebook group or on Twitter.” I don’t know when our society made the turn from actually talking out differences/misunderstandings with one another in person to simply spouting all your frustrations on social media, but I don’t think it’s a turn that’s done us any favors.
        • Interesting to note here – text: If your brother or sister sins against you” → Gr. “sins” = word that carries implications of both intentional and unintentional harm → It’s a term used of archers not hitting their targets – of missing the mark. Jesus is reminding us that even when the harm done us unintended harm, we still need to make amends. We still need to be willing to seek and give forgiveness.
      • If one-on-one conversations don’t resolve conflict, bring others with you → Not as enforcers. Not as people to argue your point with you or for you. Jesus specifically calls them “witnesses” – people who can give an honest, first-hand account of further conversations if need be.
        • Neutral parties, not collaborators waiting to be tagged into the fight
      • If small group mediation doesn’t work, then bring in the rest of the body of faith → This isn’t an element of the church that we like to think about – the idea that we’re all called to keep one another accountable in our journeys of faith. But that’s what Jesus is saying. We’re here to help one another in many ways, and one of those ways is, in fact, conflict resolution. We’re here to help each other work things out with one another.
        • Scholar: Matthew is not prone to sugar-coating much of anything and he gives this subject the same treatment. He assumes the community will experience pain, conflict, struggle, and disagreement as they figure out what it means to be Christ-followers amid conflict, Roman occupation, and competing allegiances. While Matthew doesn’t shy away from his particular brand of intense and hyperbolic declarations, this text feels refreshingly honest about the struggles of living in community. In a time when so many in our churches are asking “Can’t we all just get along?,” Matthew answers “No. But we have a plan for that.”[8]
      • Another interesting thing to note here – text (Jesus): If they don’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector.[9] → Now, that may sound like a dismissive statement. After all, according to the Law, the Jews were supposed to keep themselves separate from the Gentiles. And in first-century Jewish society, tax collectors were detested and generally shunned. They were Jewish citizens who worked for the Roman empire – the occupiers. And yet, Jesus spent his days and his ministry with such as these.
        • Disciple Matthew = tax collector
        • Very often throughout the gospels, the first people (sometimes the only people!) to see Jesus for the Messiah that he is are not Jews but Gentile
        • Scholar: The call to treat [the offender] as a Gentile or a tax collector is not a call to exclude him permanently; after all, Jesus ate with Gentiles and tax collectors and sinners. So considering the offender to be like one them is not a call to shun him, but a call to reach out to him. The community must continue in its effort to make reconciliation a reality.[10] → This emphasizes the most important role that the community plays in forgiveness: the willingness to reach out, to seek reconciliation even when it’s hard. Because somehow it’s always easier to do hard things together.
        • Central context of a verse that we often quote in a totally different context: For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.[11] → So often, we cite this verse tenderly, reassuring one another that God is with us when we pray together, even if there are just a few of us gathered. And yet the context of this verse is not gathering for worship but gathering for conflict resolution.
          • Working to smooth out our rough edges that are scraping up against one another
          • Working to heal wounds, old and new
          • Working to bring peace to tension and frustration and misunderstanding
    • Jesus doesn’t promise that this will be an easy process, but it is a process that, if we’re willing, can bear the essential fruit of forgiveness.
      • Scholar: When taken seriously, it is a laborious process. To follow these many steps resists our very human inclination to cut people off who have hurt us or simply let people who have “made their bed, lie in it.” Instead, this is a procedure that insists that the spiritual and relational wellbeing of each person is something worth fighting for and restoration to community is worth our time and energy. In a time when political and social divisions seem to be driving us to opposite corners or, perhaps, separate Bible or book studies; when social media allows us to “unfriend” or “unfollow” those with whom we disagree; when we are invited into echo chambers where we are told those who are different are an adversary or even an enemy that threatens our capacity for success, this text invites us to remember our call as a community. This seemingly pedantic set of rules and regulations for communal living invites us to take seriously both the way our sin impacts others as well as our summons to restore kinship with one another.[12]
        • Heart of our worship practice of confession, assurance, and passing the peace
  • Idea of restoring kinship leads us into the 2nd portion of our passage this morning – “the parable of the unforgiving servant” → sort of plays out the steps that Jesus talks about in the first passage AND drives home the importance of forgiveness
    • First servant owe the king more money than he could ever earn in many lifetimes – “ten thousand bags of gold”[13] → servant begs the king to allow him to repay his astronomical debt instead of throwing him in prison → king goes a step above and forgives his entire debt
    • First servant turns around and seeks out another servant who owes him a paltry debt in comparison to the one that was just forgiven him – just “one hundred coins”[14] → first servant manhandles the second servant, ignoring the second servant’s pleas for time to repay the debt and instead having him thrown in prison
    • All witnessed by yet another servant who takes the matter to the king → king calls the first servant before him, reprimands him for his lack of compassion and reciprocal forgiveness → king has the first servant thrown in prison
    • Jesus’ final words: My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.[15] → Anyone who’s tried to forgive someone for something – which is basically anyone who’s been human for more than a minute! – knows that this is a hard ask. Forgiveness isn’t easy because hurts don’t fade quickly. Our bodies take time to heal when we’ve been injured – sometimes a long time – but even that healing time is miniscule when compared to how long it takes our souls to heal.
      • According to research, it takes 5 positive comments to offset 1 negative comment → And that’s just in terms of general feedback – constructive criticism. That doesn’t pertain to all the barbs and insults and brokenness that we verbally hurl at one another.
        • We taunt “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” … but we only toss out that patently false verse when we’ve already been hurt, right?
      • And yet Jesus implores us to forgive. Because we have all already been forgiven. Forever. Dang. It’s hard.
        • Scholar: Like the debt numbers in this parable, we have been recipients of grace in amounts that we can hardly count. If we do not forgive the transgressions of our human experience in light of the outrageous abundance of the way we have been forgiven, we are at risk of being convicted alongside the servant. We are being called to liberal forgiveness.[16] → Jesus implores us to forgive. So … are we willing? Amen.

[1] Mt 13:3-9, 18-23.

[2] Mt 13:31-32.

[3] Mt 18:10-14.

[4] Mt 14:13-21.

[5] Mt 14:22-33.

[6] Mt 14:1-12.

[7] Mt 16:21-23; 17:22-23.

[8] Kimberly Wagner, “Commentary on Matthew 18:15-35” from Working Preacher,

[9] Mt 18:17b.

[10] Ada María Isasi-Díaz. “Matthew 18:12-22 – Theological Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 2. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 92, 94.

[11] Mt 18:20.

[12] Wagner.

[13] Mt 18:24.

[14] Mt 18:28.

[15] Mt 18:35.

[16] Dock Hollingsworth. “Matthew 18:21-35 – Pastoral Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 2. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 102.

Sunday’s sermon: Do Unto Others …

Text used – Matthew 7:1-12

  • I want to read a little bit of an article for you this morning. It’s an article that originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of INSIGHT magazine – the publication for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology – and was updated for publication on their website in 2016.
    • Title: “A Virtual Life: How Social Media Changes Our Perceptions”[1] – READ first few paragraphs (up to subheading “The Unreal World”) → Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I use social media all the time, both for myself and for church things.
      • Church side:
        • How we get the word out about events (Trunk or Treat, Christmas Cookie Sale, etc.)
        • Way to keep in touch with members/friends who have moved away or are gone for a season
        • Fun way to interact with one another for various liturgical purposes → e.g.: Lenten Photo Challenge
        • Obviously streaming our service on social media right now!
      • Personal side:
        • Keeping in touch with friends and family members → My aunts and uncles are spread all across the country, so social media is the way they keep up with my kids and my family.
        • Sense of community
    • And yet, despite all those reasons that we use social media, we cannot deny that the expectation … the showmanship … the judgmentalism … the pressure placed on individuals by social media can be toxic.
      • Recent phenomenon that has surface in the last 5 yrs. or so → people seeking plastic surgery to make their “real” face look more like any number of filters you can find in social media apps
        • “Filters,” for those unfamiliar, are appearance-altering digital image effects used on social media
          • Some simply change the coloring of an image (make it black and white, sepia toned, etc.)
          • Some add silly things like puppy ears or Darth Vader’s head to your image
          • Some alter the look of your face just slightly – bigger eyes, softer skin, poutier lips, etc.
        • Phenomenon has become so common it actually has a name: Snapchat Dysmorhpia[2]
    • All of this speaks volumes about the way that social media expectations have taken over our society. As Kenneth Gergen said (referenced in that article we read): “I am linked, therefore I am.” And yet with the social silos – the opinion echochambers – that social media creates, we have also become a society that surrounds ourselves with only the information that agrees with what we believe … that enforces our already-held beliefs (whether they’re based on facts or misrepresentations) … that “prove” to us that whatever we’re shouting about, whatever we’re anxious about, whatever we fear must be right “because I found it on the internet.” Because of our social media silos, we have become more insulated, more segmented, more disconnected than ever before. If ever there was a time when we needed to hear anew Jesus’ words from this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, friends, it is now.
  • Seems like a pretty straightforward list of commands
    • 1: Don’t judge.
    • 7: Ask, and you will receive.
    • Finished off roundly with v. 12 – the Golden Rule: Treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you.
    • But if they’re all such straightforward, “easy” things, why are we still struggling with them more than 2000 yrs. later?
      • Short answer: Because being human is hard. It was hard then. It’s hard now. And while some of the things that make it hard have certainly changed – we don’t have to worry about Roman conquerors crucifying us for stirring up trouble, they didn’t have to worry about the negative effects of social media on an entire population … truly, while some things have changed, there are still some things about being human that were just as hard back then as they are today, and I think the biggest one is the most obvious: it’s hard being human together. → need for community is an inherent part of us
        • Seek out people who are like us in some way – look like us, think like us, interested in same things we’re interested in, etc. → The vast array of extracurricular activities available at any high school or college is the perfect example of this.
          • My alma mater, UWEC (talked about a few weeks ago): campus of 10,000 students has 200+ student organizations → everything from fraternities and sororities to curling club, from mock trial to drone club, from faith-based groups to cultural associations, and more!
          • We seek out people who have things in common with us because as human beings we crave community – we crave that hit of oxytocin released by our brains when we’re with people we enjoy, friends and family.
        • And yet there are truly no crueler things done on this earth than the things that human beings do to one another, are there? Jesus knew that. Jesus knew that being human wasn’t easy.
          • If we follow the theology of John’s gospel – “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word, nothing came into being.”[3]then Jesus knew that being human wasn’t easy from the very beginning … before even taking on the mantle of humanity in the incarnation, Jesus knew things were going to be hard. But he came anyway.
          • Even if we just take the years of life that Jesus had already lived before speaking these words during his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had lived plenty. He would have seen … would have experienced … would have understood just how hard life could be. But he taught anyway. → tried to teach the people a better way to be humans together
  • So let’s take a deeper look at that seemingly-straightforward list.
    • First portion = about judgment and hypocrisy – Jesus’ famous words about being preoccupied with the splinter in your sibling’s eye while ignoring the log in your own → It’s so easy for us to point out the flaws in other people, isn’t it? We see so clearly the ways they’re messing up … the ways they’re misunderstanding … the ways that they could “so easily” improve. And yet, as the old adage goes, when you’re pointing one finger at someone else, there are always three more fingers pointing back at yourself.
      • Scholar: There can be no right judgment without a considerable about of introspection. … There is something about introspection, about being honest and truth about oneself with oneself, that makes the human heart more pliable and sympathetic in regard to the plight of other people.[4] → It’s so much easier to judge others … but the only people that we can truly improve in this world are ourselves. Jesus both reminds us that we are far from perfect and emphasizes just how important it is to work on ourselves in order to be better for those around us.
    • Second portion = about asking and receiving → This portion of the passage is harder than it appears on the surface because of that age-old haunting question: “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”
      • Wrapped up in struggles with discerning God’s will over our own desires/intentions
      • Wrapped up in struggles with following and obeying God’s will
      • Wrapped up in struggles with the classic battle between good and evil, between what is reality and what we claim is “fair” … struggles all bound up in that glimmering, gossamer thread called hope → Because in actuality, this is not an assurance of the “vending machine” version of God that we wish it could be. Even so, there is a hidden promise in Jesus’ imperative here.
        • Gr. verb tense for all those directives in v. 7 – “ask,” “search,” and “knock” – are indicative future
          • Scholar: meaning that they have not happened yet, and there is no specific indication of the time when they will come to pass. The paradoxical phrase “already and not yet” is apt to describe the fulfillment of God’s work in the world.[5] → So Jesus is promising that when we ask for beneficial things – when we ask for good things from the one who loves us greater and deeper and wider than anyone else has ever can ever or will ever love us – God will hear us and work in us and through us for good.
    • All wrapped up with that final verse – certainly one of if not the most familiar verse in all of Scripture: Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you.[6]
      • Golden Rule = present in some form in various cultures around the world
        • Variation: “Silver Rule” à Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.
      • On the surface, the Golden Rule feels like it’s about us, right? If you strive to “treat other people the way you want to be treated,” you have to at least take the way you want to be treated into consideration, right? But when we think about it, it really isn’t about us at all.
      • Let me tell you a story. When I was in middle school – well, all throughout middle and high school, really – I had the world’s biggest crush on my best friend. Let’s call him Max. Sadly, despite all my pining and all my prayers, Max did not feel the same way about me. He knew how I felt, but he didn’t feel the same. But we were still best friends. One night, we were at a middle school dance along with all the rest of our friends. All middle school dances are a nightmare, right? Well, this was no different. I was crying because the boy I wanted to dance with didn’t want to dance with me. We got to the last song of the night, which of course was a slow song, and Max told all of us to sit down around a table. He said, “We’re going to play poker.” We didn’t have any cards, so this was imaginary poker. He dealt out our “cards,” then went around the table declaring what everyone’s hands were. He got to me last, and, having tumbled to how his game was played, I laid my “hand” down and said, “Four aces.” Max looked and me and said, “Yup. You win. Let’s dance.” And we did. By the time we got through all of that and actually made our way out onto the dance floor, there wasn’t more than a minute or so of the song left, but that didn’t matter. At that point, it wasn’t even about the dance anymore. Not really. It was about being seen – truly seen – by another person. By someone that cared. It was about experiencing compassion … and giving compassion. It was about putting aside all the hard things about being human and instead choosing to be human together in the best possible way. That is what Jesus asks of us. that is who and how we are called to be. Amen.

[1] Sherry Thomason. “A Virtual Life: How Social Media Changes Our Perceptions” from Insight, spring 2013, updated for website 7 Oct. 2016: Accessed 19 Feb. 2023.


[3] Jn 1:1-3.

[4] Mark A. Lomax. “Matthew 7:1-6 – Homiletical Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 1. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 155.

[5] Leah D. Schade. “Matthew 7:7-11 – Theological Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 1. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 162.

[6] Mt 7:12a.

Sunday’s sermon: How to Do and Be

Text used – Matthew 6:7-21

  • I went to college at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, which is referred to throughout much of the UW System as “The Singing University.”
    • Choral education = popular major
    • But beyond the academics of it, people knew that if you loved to sing, you could find a place at UWEC. → 9 separate vocal performance opportunities
      • Large ensembles
        • Women’s Concert Chorale
        • Concert Choir
        • Symphonic Choir
        • Treble Choir
      • Small groups
        • Fifth Element
        • Innocent Men
        • Gospel choir
        • Newest: Novum Voce (perform only Renaissance music)
    • But the epitome as far as campus-wide recognition and status was the men’s choir: The Singing Statemen. I often joke that at my college, no one knew who the football players were, but everyone knew the Statemen.
      • Nothing like a Statemen concert
        • Always dressed in black tuxes with tails, white cummerbunds, and white ties
        • Always ran on stage in a way that looked like chaos but inevitably found each choir member perfectly in his place
        • Always included a boisterous and rousing rendition of the UWEC fight song
        • Always included a song for which they’d invite former Statemen in the audience to join them on stage → Because the Statemen weren’t just a choir. They were a brotherhood. “Once a Statemen, always a Statesmen,” as their motto went.
      • My friends and I went to a lot of Statemen concerts because some of our closest friends were Statemen, but there was one particular song that continues to reverberate within me almost 20 yrs. later. It’s a song that’s become a bit of a signature of theirs at this point – so much so that, when the Statemen put together a 50th anniversary choir in 2016, this is one of the songs that they sang. – song: “Ave Maria” → But not the more well-known version by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. This is the version by German composer Franz Biebl published in 1964.
        • Put a link to the Statemen’s 50th anniversary of this song on Facebook this morning (for at home or later)
        • Power of this version of the classic Latin prayer = layering of sound and harmony → each section of the music begins with a single voice (or, in some versions, a handful of voices singing in unison) → following that introduction, the music blossoms into this deep, rich tapestry of sound

  • The melody and harmonies progress in such a way that it doesn’t hit you all at once like a wall of sound but grows slowly sort of the way bread rises. One moment, it’s low and simple, but a few moments later, you realize it’s big and complex and resonating. And it’s that element of this that made me think of our Scripture reading this morning. → today’s passage = part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount
    • Begins with Jesus’ teaching about prayer (speaking in the terms of Biebl’s “Ave Maria,” this is that first section) → And Jesus opens this section on prayer with a simple refrain: When you pray, don’t our out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard.[2]
      • Adds another layer to his teaching on prayer: Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.[3] → To that simple refrain of the centrality of prayer in our lives of faith, Jesus adds this assurance that God is listening.
        • Assurance that our prayers aren’t just floating off out into the ether … aren’t just words disappearing on the wind
        • But even deeper than that, Jesus assures us that God knows before we even ask.
          • Scholar puts words to the amazing audacity of this declaration: This is an extraordinary claim on God’s behalf! The creator of the whole world and its people is predisposed with intimate interest in individuals’ lives and actions.[4]
      • Develops the beautiful complexity of his lesson of prayer with yet another layer – a layer full of its own harmonies and themes: Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as its done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.[5] → I love the depth that we find in this because it’s a different translation. We all have the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer that we learned growing up – debts and debtors, trespasses, sins. And sometimes those words have become so familiar that we forget what we’re actually saying … what we’re actually praying. We rattle our way through them because “it’s that time in the service” without thinking about them, sending them straight out of our mouths without letting them marinate in our hearts and our souls. So this different translation of those oh-so-familiar words makes us take them in and ponder them and pray them in a whole new way.
        • Sheet of Alternative Lord’s Prayers → ways for you to add your own depth and harmony to the melody of the prayer that you’ve known and recited for so long
          • Exercise: we’re going to recite the 2-sided one together (back of the page, the one from the Dominican Sisters Retreat, March 1993)
          • Scholar: Jesus’ prayer thumps along to the beating of our hearts. … If one brings this prayer to life, once one leaves the privacy of the prayer room and returns to the chaos of real life, strange things will happen.[6]
        • To finish out this section, Jesus takes that singular theme of forgiveness and develops that with more attention and depth: If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your sins.
          • Scholar: While the beginning lines of the prayer elevate our attention toward the heavens, by the conclusion we are stuck in the belly of our soul, because we are unwilling to forgive others and thereby unable to receive the forgiveness promised us by God. … Imagine what it would be like if forgiveness retained a place in all human relationships. Imagine that instead of pointing fingers at each other we presented gifts wrapped in the fabric of forgiveness. What if, rather than laughing at the predictable fall of hypocrites, we raced to catch them and soften their landing.[7]
    • From there, Jesus starts a new section with a new theme: fasting – text: And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward.[8]
      • Goes on to layer and develop and beautify this theme of fasting
        • How to fast
        • How to present yourself to God while you’re fasting
        • Jesus’ assurance (similar to his assurance in his section on prayer): Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[9]
    • And the final theme that Jesus introduces and then layers and beautifies in this portion is the idea of treasures and reward.
      • Stems from his previous theme (just as his theme of forgiveness stemmed from his discussion on prayer)
      • Sort of like that beautiful, drawn out, full voice, full harmony ending “Amen” from “Ave Maria” → This short discourse on treasures really puts an “amen” on this entire section of text. – Jesus: Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[10] → Sure, this applies to our material treasures – our monetary treasures. “Follow the money” is a phrase for a reason, right? But more than that, Jesus is reminding the people – all the people gathered around him from that Galilean hillside and down through the millennia to us gathered today – that it’s more about their heart-treasures.
        • Their attention
        • Their devotion
        • Their focus
        • Their fixation
        • Wherever it is that your heart lands again and again and again – when you’re sad or scared or struggling – that’s what you treasure. The question this morning – one for you to ponder as we move on with our worship and our business as a congregation – is simple: Is your landing place – your treasure place – God? Amen.


[2] Mt 6:7.

[3] Mt 6:

[4] Robert J. Elder. “Matthew 6:7-15 – Theological Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 1. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 122.

[5] Mt 6:9-13.

[6] Amos Jerman Disasa. “Matthew 6:7-15 – Pastoral Perspective” in Feasting on the Gospels – Matthew, vol. 1. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 124.

[7] Disasa, 124.

[8] Mt 6:16.

[9] Mt 6:18.

[10] Mt 6:19-21.