By Kent Heaton
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
The sermon Jesus delivered on the mountain forms the nature and character of His disciples. Simple principles are put before the people challenging their perception of God in ways that astonished them. When He concluded the sermon, the hearts of the multitude was profoundly shaken. They had never heard such clarity and forthright teaching. Examining the sermon shows a powerful illustration of the simple doctrines of truth, righteousness and devotion to the Lord God. The common people understood Jesus because they heard teaching that did not mince words or create confusing analogies with ulterior motives as men devise. It would be fair to say the sermon exhibited a great deal of common sense approaches to character. The Lord removed the mist of doubt when He said the heart is the central figure in the life of the disciple. Nothing is more foundational than to see everything that makes a man a man comes from the heart. Whatever the desires of the heart will be is what will make the man a person of character or one that pursues aimless goals.
One of the enduring lessons about the Sermon on the Mount is the application it makes for every generation. When Jesus uttered these spiritual truths two thousand years ago He probably did not have in mind social media. He did understand the nature of man and how that he is drawn into the mire of social acceptance because of the need to be accepted by others. Whatever form that it takes (and it has taken many forms in the history of man) it remains the same problem of the heart. Idol worship was a social media nightmare taking the heart of the Israelites away from God. When Moses gave the Law to the Hebrews he began with the first principle of faithfulness to the Lord by showing that nothing can come before a relationship with the Lord God. The world turns upon a phenomenon that is of recent creation: social media. Unlike idol worship, there is some good in social media and can be used for the glory of God. Sadly, what happens more often than not is the heart is consumed with the devices that offer so many windows into the world. Studies have shown a serious addiction to mobile devices. People cannot function without their ability to twitter, engage, FaceBook, text, play, browse endlessly, share meaningless memes, shop and spend more than five years of their lives thriving on electronic devices. Imagine taking five years away from a productive life to do nothing more than stare into a glowing device.
Social media causes families to stop speaking to one another. They are too busy gawking at their phones. Computers glow in the late nights as trolling methods are increased by manufacturers that want you to stay on their sites and in their sights. Endless videos run holding the eyes captive to the next fun thing. A new word is being used to describe a phobia of not having a mobile device: Nomophobia. Imagine that. We now have a word to describe what we think about our mobile devise. Parents spend more time on their phones than engaging with their children. Young people are obsessed with having the newest and latest phones to fill the pressures of their peers. Attention spans are being lost as children do not know what to do without their electronic device. Mood swings, anxiety and bullying come with the territory. Road rage is coupled with texting while driving killing thousands every year. Lost in the blur of all of this new fad is the heart devoted to the Lord God.
After two thousand years faith still comes from hearing and hearing comes from the word of God. One of the greatest dangers of social media is how it takes the heart away from God. It does not seem alarming because there are good things to find in electronic devices. What is lost in the minds of God’s people is what it is creating in the heart. The treasure of the heart is not in the word of God but social media. Acceptance is based upon the number of likes and comments on a FaceBook page. Identification is measured by social acceptance through electronic devices not the character of righteousness. A twist to electronic devices is that many young people use their smartphones to find Bible passages. Hand them a Bible (the paper kind) and they have no idea where a passage is found. Faith comes from leaving the oil of the hand upon the pages of God’s word and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Character comes from people talking face to face with one another about the love of God. Sharing in life will not be done through a smartphone or social media account. Hearts are being lost to the world of materialism. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It is time for the church to take a hard look at where the hearts of God’s people is being taken. What value will that smartphone be when standing before the Lord in judgment and we realize our heart was not in the Lord? It would be better to go through life without social media and see God face to face than to throw our lives away in the heap of souls lost through a fad that will not endure. What is it profit if we gain the whole world and lose our soul? Sad isn’t it. Look at your heart. It is there you will find what you treasure.