As Pastor Joni continues our series on the Sermon on the Mount with Matthew 6:19–34, she asks us to consider the relationship between mental health and spiritual wellness. How does our valuation—by others or ourselves—impact how we receive God’s love? She continues with asking us to consider whether we value God or earthly treasures, and even our prioritization of God rather than earthy things. This then leads us to think about how or whether we trust God and God’s timing. She concludes with how our focus impacts spiritual darkness and it’s impact on mental health.
Unedited transcript per Otter.ai
Tuesday is World Mental Health Day. So we’re taking a moment today to actually address mental illness. And it’s different varieties. This can include depression, or post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit, deficit disorder, schizophrenia, there’s a whole list. And the thing is, mental illness is not uncommon. A lot of people face it. The challenge is, for whatever reason, we act oddly in response to it as people, we don’t accept it as normal, even though it really is more normal than not. And so those with mental health struggles often face misunderstanding and harsh judgment that might cause them to hide their illnesses and avoid seeking help. I’m gonna flat out tell you, I stand here before you as your pastor. And I also struggle with depression. You might not know I stand up here look like I have all my stuff together. And it’s significant in my life. And it seems to get worse when I’m facing a lot of struggles all at the same time. I’m working full time outside of church. So I have all those stressors adding in I’ve got the pastor in part, carrying your burdens, don’t get me wrong, I love this work. Just want to be clear on that. Simply being a wife, and a mom and all the other things happening in my personal life altogether. It’s just overwhelming at times. And like you might be able to relate to I often also deal with feelings of self doubt and worthlessness. I struggle and as the spiral gets bad, sometimes I find myself literally having to claw to fight my way out of the cycle of depression. God helped me indeed, but thanks be to God, he does not leave us alone during these times. So we are going to deal with this today. And I know many of you might also face something like this, it might not be depression, it might be a whole number of things that crossed your plate, that exhaust you frustrate you, that make you feel like you’re in a never ending fight. And the combination of disappointment and fatigue and all of these factors can actually lead to the worst versions of ourselves. So we become blinded to the good things we are experiencing and focus on the bad whether or not we even recognize what we’re doing. And again, we begin spiraling down mentally. And that spiral can affect us both mentally but also spiritually. As you might imagine, God’s word actually addresses this a little bit. So we’re going to look at how the Bible can teach to this today. So please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word. We are continuing in Matthew chapter six. We’ve been working through the Sermon on the Mount. And today we are starting in verse 19. So Jesus is talking and says don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moth eat them and rust destroys them and where thieves break in and still store up your treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is there the desires of your heart will also be your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is. No one can serve two masters for you will hate one and love the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life. Whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear isn’t one If more than food in your body more than clothing, Look at the birds, they don’t plant or harvest or store food and barns for your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries at a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares, so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have such little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers. But your heavenly Father already knows your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously. And he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. The Word of God for the people of God, you may be seated. So if we look at this passage that we just read, how many of you think it’s about money and possessions? Nobody thinks it’s about oh, I got one hand. Anyone else think it’s about money in possessions? Well, it is. But there’s also more and we’re gonna look at that more part today. It’s actually richer than just money and possessions. But I want to start with a basic premise. And this is kind of refresher for those of you who were here last week, I think we all can agree on this, that we all desire to be seen, known and valued. If you’re looking at that, like it’s a little weird. I won’t name names Melinda. Or maybe I will we all desire to be seen known and valued. So the question I guess for you then is if you feel seen known and value. Think about that. I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands. I won’t call you out on that one. But I do want to draw your attention to something that God regularly puts in front of me when I’m struggling the most. God tells me you are valued. You are seen and known. You are loved. And you are enough for God. Okay. And just in case you actually had some doubts on this, I’m going to read for you Psalm 139. In its entirety, the Psalm we we did a little bit of reading from for our call of worship this morning. I want you to listen in here for specifically how people are seen known valued by God. Okay. Got it. Yeah, I’ll put that on there. So Oh, Lord, you have examined my heart. And you know, everything about me. You know, when I sit down or stand up, you know, my thoughts, even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel, and when I rest at home, you know, everything I do. You know what I’m going to say even before I say it, Lord, you go before me and follow me. I can never escape from your spirit, I can never get away from your presence. If I go up to heaven, you are there. If I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the furthest oceans, even there, your hand will guide me and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become Knight. But even in the darkness, I cannot hide from you. To you. The night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous. How will I know it? You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book, every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me? Oh God, they cannot be numbered. Is there any doubt that God sees us? knows us value says
God formed us each and marvelous ways. He he uniquely created a span of life for us. That the language they’re actually It’s weaving it, he wove a span of life for us, he beheld us before we took our first breath, he sees us, one of the names of God, which I love comes in Genesis, but it’s Ellroy, the God who sees me, not just the God who sees the God who sees me. He also knows our hearts and our minds, including when we have crazy thoughts floating around that we don’t understand, and we’re grappling with, tells us in Jeremiah 31, three, that He loves us with an everlasting love, a love that led him to die so we could be reconciled to Him. So this, this might be a little overwhelming to consider. My, my younger son when he was maybe maybe three, and maybe I’ve shared this before, we’re driving on a long drive. And from the back seat here, dad, God is so big, that big God sees you. So this is the way God created us, though we are, we are to rest in that space that God has created for us. But there’s something else you need to know. God also desires to be seen, known and valued or cherished by his created people. I don’t think this is a surprise to us. But remember, at the very beginning, in in Genesis, he had created this beautiful garden. And he walked and talked with Adam and Eve in that garden every day, he communed with his creative people. But something happened that we know that the story is recorded in Genesis chapter three, where the accuser got to Adam and Eve and, and helps convince them of two things. First, they were not enough. The accuser told them, they needed something else, they needed this magical fruit that would allow them to be like God and distinguish between good and evil. And it was something they didn’t currently have, and oh, how they needed it. So they were not enough the way they currently were created. Second, he convinced them that they couldn’t trust God. God had explicitly said, do not eat of the fruit of this tree, and the serpent convinced them that they knew better than God. And thus they should take and eat the forbidden fruit. Ever since then, mankind has been mired in the consequences of believing those lies, which still persist today. And we’re often convinced that we are never enough and we can’t trust God. And in the process, the accuser pulls off another win. By believing those two lies, we do not see know or value God. So sadly, by undermining that human connection to God, this also perpetuates the issues of loneliness, self doubt, worthlessness, all those things that are also compounded by mental health issues. And that is where we find ourself with today’s passage. So on the surface, the things Jesus addresses are very straightforward, but there is deeper meaning. And so we’re gonna first talk about earthly treasures, where Jesus says, Don’t store up treasures here on Earth, store up your treasures in heaven. Wherever your treasure is, there, the desires of your heart will also be if we are storing up treasures here on Earth, what are we trying to achieve? Are we trying to be seen known and valued, we might not think about it that way we think of it as I’m going to be happy, I will be satisfied. People will value me because of my treasures. And so the question then is how what makes value is that the size of our car, the size of our home, the kind of clothes we wear, the vacations we take a life experiences we just have to have. That the reality is that Earth’s treasures are things that can be destroyed. And such things destroy us that need to have bigger, better, more, can consume it, and we find ourselves in a comparison trap with others. We become so blinded to the things of this world that we lose sight of what truly matters, and what is that. God and the things of God that’s what really matters. Materialism, the pursuit of things, destroys and distorts our perspective and blinds us to God’s truth. And worse Earth’s treasures fool us into thinking that we will be satisfied with just a little bit more. A trap is that we will never be sad As five there will always be someone who has more bigger better, who will always attract more attention be a better influencer. So if we are seeking these things to be fulfilled, we will always fail. To be clear, it is not wrong to possess or own things. But it is wrong to let things possess us. Okay. So sadly, as we place more and more focus on trying to achieve things, we let corrosive dust fill our eyes, and then we don’t see, don’t seek to know and don’t value God here and a reoccurring theme here. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are told the fixer eyes on that eternal treasure. Yes, we all should have the promise of eternal life with Jesus Christ. But more than that heavenly treasures include good works, that producer righteous character in us. So heavenly treasure doesn’t just wait till we get to heaven and enjoy it. Heavenly treasure starts now. As we seek to truly see God, he will open our eyes to see more of him and what he desires of us, we will learn from him and come to truly know Him. And only as we are growing and developing that deeper relationship with God can we truly value and cherish him. So in such intimate relationship, we will also come to know and recognize how truly seen known and valued we are seeing the cycle here. So Jesus sums up this section with the phrase Wherever your treasure is, there, the desires of your heart will also be and this really comes down to you. Your heart will always pursue what you have seen as your treasure. And Jesus makes it clear in this passage, one leads to death and one leads to life. Which takes us to another section in this passage on the concept of serving two masters. So Jesus tells us, no one can serve two masters, you will hate one and love the other or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. So those who pursue Earth’s treasures, or satisfaction in Earth’s treasures often think that the things of God impede their satisfaction. I can’t do X, Y, and Z because God doesn’t want me to have any fun. And when a mindset creeps in like this, it’s once again the accuser telling us that God just wants to destroy the joy so God cannot be trusted. The reality is that those who work for earthly things that they think will satisfy, end up hating God. Again, you cannot serve earthly things in God. But those who serve God, who worked for God end up finding ultimate satisfaction in the things of God. And that is what Jesus is articulating. One more point on this section, that last word money isn’t actually translated correctly. We see it as Mammon. And Mammon gets at the idea of treasure or riches that are persona, FIDE, and opposed to God. So it’s contrasting the service and worship of things with the service and worship that is due to God. That’s what Mammon is. This could be money, possessions, fame, status, any of those things that we value more than the Lord. And those things become the masters we we serve, and the pursuit of such things lead us to hate service to God because it gets in the way. So the challenge was such conflicting things that if we’re trying to pursue both, both things, both serving God and things of the world, our hearts will actually naturally drift toward one or the other. And it will give it honor and preference, even when we don’t realize we’re doing it. So we become divided in mind. So this is what Jesus is telling us is that which we honor that which we value, and honor most, will guide our life. Now, you might be saying, well, riches, and satisfaction in earthly pleasures, is something I’m not worried about. Not at all. And the good news is that Jesus likes to be an equal opportunity poker, which means there’s a message in this for you to be start here. This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear, is that life more than food in your body more than clothing. So perhaps the issue instead of too many riches is that you you don’t have money or you’re tight on money, which means you don’t know if you’ll be able to buy groceries or that sweater that you have worn and washed so many times that you can see through it that really needs replacing. You don’t know When that’s gonna happen, and you’re not sure you can get to the doctor because it costs a lot of money, or you can’t pick up those prescriptions because they’re not covered by insurance, and it’s ridiculously expensive. These are what we call Earth treasures. We call them necessities. Right. And as we focus on such necessities, what happens? We get stuck in a cycle of worry. So we are perpetually worried or distracted thinking about these things that are in our brain swirling around. And it manifests as fear. If you were with us this summer, we talked about fear. Fear often leads us to act in self preserving ways. And when we act in fear, we take our eyes off God, we think a Peter walking on the water, he was doing fine for a second. And then he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the storm and began to sink. Jesus is trying to drive home the very important point that God wants us to trust him. When we trust Him, we demonstrate that we see him, we know him. And we value Him. And we also recognize, he sees us, he values us, he recognizes us, right? Psalm 37, four tells us to light yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Three times in this very short passage in Matthew, Matthew 619, the 34, three times Jesus tells us not to worry, this gets in the Greek to the idea of being disturbed in spirit and drawn in multiple directions, which can tear us apart. That’s what what worry does to us, it tears us apart. To be clear, worry, choosing is not to worry. Choosing not to worry is not ignoring concerns. Rather, it’s a conscious decision to depend on God. In each of our concerns. We can be concerned about people and take it to God and say I trust you God. I can’t worry, because I know you’ve got this. Just one year ago, if you were here at this church, you know that we had just been called as your pastors. And just as we said, yet, we’re gonna go, the housing market crashed, and we couldn’t sell our house. And the prices were dropping. And it was we had, we thought we had a house here because we had found a house God is so good. And then it turned out we couldn’t buy that house because our house hadn’t sold. And it was a little frustrating. The devil wishes to distract us with worries and concerns. He kept throwing this at us. It was really hard for us. As you might recall, we commuted for several weeks back and forth between Lake Stevens. But we kept praying we kept trusting and kept our eyes on God. And not only did God provide, but he did so in a huge way you might might not remember that we found a house actually it was a year ago, this Sunday, we found the house. And two weeks later, we moved in. In two weeks, they had to move all their stuff out. We had to get the financing done all of that stuff. And God just opened every single door, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, hey. And I get a view of Mount Rainier. It’s amazing. He gave us the desires of our hearts in a big, big way. And it’s not just that God has done this in my family’s life time and time again, we have stories of God’s faithfulness, and perfect timing. We also have to realize that God is faithful. But sometimes our timing is not God’s timing, and God comes in big time. Sometimes it’s as if God is asking us if we trust Him, not just with the destination, but also with the journey that can be hard. We have learned a lot along the journey. God wants us to give our worries to him, so he can handle them. Sounds pretty easy. But if we are clinging to our worries, we are limiting his power to act. And in fact, to right after these things, these basic necessities is to ignore the fact that God knows we need them. So we’re in essence telling God, you don’t see no more value me because I need to strive for this myself. It’s kind of a convicting point when you think about it. God moves in amazing ways and he wants you to give him the room to work. And this is where we need to be vigilant. Keep your eyes on God and look for how he’s moving the mountains around you. Learn to rely implicitly on the love and wisdom of God and then honor him. Tell him you trust him. Tell him where you see him working. Call it out. without your praise, recognizing how powerful he is and how powerless we are. Jesus wants us to be people of faith. This is the question he asks in this passage. Why do you have such little faith? He wants us to be seen and believing and believing even when we are not seeing. Now, once we have our necessities and even desire satisfied, we are prone to grow content. And we might think we’re all set. And in the midst of such satisfaction, we kind of let this haziness come over our eyes again. Once again, as we’re sitting comfortable and pretty, pretty well. We can be blinded to the things of God. So we have to remember that he who dealt generously with us, once wants us to turn around and use our blessings to help others. Jesus clearly tells us in the context of this passage, seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously. And he will give you everything you need. How do we build God’s kingdom if we’re so focused on ourselves and our own needs? We don’t what? Pop quiz time, I know you like pop quizzes. How do we define righteousness, or holiness? Close as Jesus defined it, two commandments
right, that agape love, love God fully. Seek the kingdom of God first, which includes loving your neighbor as yourself. It is true. Dale bruh, Dale’s neighbor came to church today. Building God’s Kingdom requires that we see, we get to know and we value those around us. When God gives us generous gifts, we are called to use them for His glory. And we need to live out the attitude and character of God. That’s the holiness he’s working to develop in us. And this means doing to others what he has done to us, which is allowing God to work through us to move those mountains. Can you can you contemplate that that you might be the the mountain mover in someone else’s life because God is using you as his tool? This is important, it’s more important than us pursuing our own needs. When we put the kingdom of God first, Jesus tells us these less important things will be given to us abundantly. Okay, now, if you have your Bible open, or your memory is so stellar that you actually remembered this passage from memory, you might recognize that I missed this section in here. And it’s not because it’s not important. This is the section about the I like the lamp and the body. I’m addressing at last because the rest of this passage kind of all fits together. This is a random little thing in the middle of it, but I don’t want to miss it. So let’s go back and look at that. Whoo. I think I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m just gonna, I might have mixed up my slides again. So we’ll just leave that one for now. I’ll read you it says your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eyes healthy, your whole body is filled with light. And when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And it will aid you thank you is actually darkness. How deep that darkness is. The lamp is about the faculty of knowing and as generally means discerning right and wrong. Okay, so if that ability in you is healthy, that means we are whole complete spiritually perceptive and generous. And such health results in a bright character. Here’s the point when we are spiritually healthy, both God and others and others will see know and value us. Is this clicking? Are you getting? You might have caught those three little words now right? See no one value. We are the city on a hill that cannot be hidden when we are healthy. People cannot help but pay attention to that light that is in us. However, when the lamp in us is unhealthy. We are susceptible to moral failure and prone to follow evil and this gets at the idea that we are ignorant of divine things and ignorant of our responsibility or do ie to respond to such divine things. So if we are unhealthy we cannot truly know God in the fullness he desires and we cannot build His kingdom when we are unhealthy. In this dark and healthy state, the light of truth cannot enter. We are shrouded and gloom not just in our minds, but also in our hearts. In such a dark and despairing place, you’d start to think of this cycle we bury ourselves, we make it where others cannot truly see know or value us, we cut ourselves off believing the lie that no one will truly understand us. So we must protect ourselves. And it’s the spiraling trap that again, compounds any mental illness that we have or any mental issues. It doesn’t have to. You don’t have to call illness issues. I am not saying that having a mental health issue means we are in spiritual darkness. I want to be absolutely clear on that. I think the church has historically pounded people who have issues saying you are not trusting God. And we look at the Bible and we see a child that was born lame. And people like well, who did the city? What was his sanity? I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. But spiritual darkness, perhaps phrased as the Dark Soul of the night. Has anyone ever heard that phrase? It also sets in and when that does, so two comes despair and hopelessness. So Thomas, more Catholic monk, once once wrote that The Dark Knight calls for a spiritual response, not only a therapeutic response, it’s at such points in life that we must think back to our meaning and purpose. So what is our meaning and purpose? Your clothes, Isaiah 43 Seven tells us we were created for God’s glory. This might sound kind of odd, until we recognize that God is saying he wants to be your hero. He wants that first place in our lives, and he will break open heaven and earth to achieve this. And he shares more about this in Isaiah 43. The whole the whole passage in Isaiah is great, but he says, I am the Lord, Your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way into see a path in the mighty waters, I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth to you not precede it. I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. You might be in a dark place mentally, and or spiritually, you might have a storm swirling around you. I hope after today you can take heart and know that God truly sees, knows and values you. You are precious to him. Let him hold you as a parent holds a precious child. And that child looking up into God’s eyes, I squarely fixed on Him. God’s got this. God’s got this. So as we consider this passage, maybe today, it’s helping you think through it a little differently than you’ve thought about it before. But I want you to think through a couple of things. A couple questions, really. And you don’t have to write these down. But think through them first. Do you know that you are truly seen known and valued by God? It’s not just something you say it’s not just something you come to church to hear. You are to if you feel unseen, is it because you are looking for earthly validation that does not satisfy? Good question. The next one, before I show you is likely that we will all face a mental challenge of some kind in life that seeks to blind us and trap us. So my question for you is what mechanisms in your life have you established to help you keep your eyes on God? About 15 years ago, I had a real despairing time. Pastor Ian sent me this little song by Leland called lift your eyes up. I don’t know if you know this song. I have this recording now. Because every time I get in a spiritually dark place. I play that over and over lift your eyes up. It’s a beautiful song that reminds me to focus on God. God’s got this for what worries have you been holding on to that God is asking you to release to him. I’m sure we can all come up with a couple right off the bat. And finally, where is God asking you to build up Kingdom treasure this is most important seek first to build God’s Kingdom.