Gamma 15 – Sermon on the Mount (Study 12)

Study 12



John Goh012 207
Dr Lee Fook Sin019 230
Moh Ee Lin019 273
Ng Cho Hoo012 878
Susanah Ng012

Kindly contact any of these Gamma Facilitators. They will be hosting Zoom meetings for Discussions every Wednesday starting from April 1, 2020.


Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to
cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions. The answers will be posted on the web the next day

What Jesus is trying to communicate with us is to avoid the selfish accumulation of wealth in the world to the exclusion of loving our neighbour. Her is speaking to our ambition and driving interest in how we conduct our lives , is it dedicated to the serving of the community or is it solely or predominantly focussed on material gain in order to provide, comfort, security, status or power . That is why he says not to accumulate for “yourselves”

The temporal nature of material goods is the main reason for the prohibition as it does not make sense to live a life based on things which have no worth in eternity where we are headed and even the wealth that we have on earth is subject to loss in so many ways. Inflation, crime, devaluation from increase in money supply, the problem of fiat money, the tenous nature of our current banking system with its decreasing statuary reserves requirements.

Jesus is saying that materialism and greed are a matter of our hearts. Treasure is something we intrinsically value in our lives. It is something which we are drawn to and are motivated to pursue and commit our efforts to naturally. So what we value is our treasure and will determine how we live our lives and with what efforts we will expend to reach these goals.

This is a difficulty metaphor but what it basically is trying to convey is that what we regard as our treasure will be determined by how we perceive things. If we look at things and events and people with a “haplous ”(Greek) eye then our lives and behaviour will be filled with light which is the metaphor for righteousness. Haplous can be translated as single, or whole or generous and is cast in opposition to the word “ Ponerous “ which is evil. If we have to opposite to Haplous our lives and how we live it will be dark which is the metaphor for unrighteousness. So when we look at the metaphor and its pair of opposites it would be reasonable to conclude that Jesus is speaking about perspectives. If we have a healthy , wholesome which will include a generous perspective in how we view events and people in our world then our behaviour will correspondingly be righteous. If we have the opposite perspective a self serving , greedy, non loving perspective in life then it will in turn determine our behaviour and we will live and act in unrighteousness which is darkness.

If the offering plate comes around, the one with the wholesome eye will see it as an opportunity to love our neighbour and gladly give and give generously and easily. The one with the evil eye or selfish perspective will see every ringgit placed on the offering plate as one less for him or her to spend on themselves and all their selfish ambitions…building houses, investments and trips. Our perspectives determine our behaviour. The sin of greed affects all of us as the line drawn between desire and greed is often blurred by our own cultural perspectives , up bringing , occupation, standard of living. It is the sin that one cannot detect unless one is seen from outside ourselves by others. We feel that our comforts and materials are our entitlement and stocking up on this for our own use is legitimate. We also live in a society totally consumed with materialism and greed is sanitised and recast is ambition or bussiness savy. We idolise not the unspoken heros in our society who give their lives to defend the nation or serve the poor . In fact we look down on them and regard them as stupid or people who could not get a good eduction or job to earn the big bucks. Instead we live in a society that idolises the rich and famous, the ones who selfishly accumulate wealth and squeeze the poor ordinary worker. There was an article in the media recently which cast Elon Musk as potentially the first Trillionaire in USD , imagine that ..we live in a world where one man can accumulate so much wealth for himself to the exclusion of the the billions who still wallow in poverty and need. We need to see the opposite values in the beatitudes and be a people with a difference.

The metaphor of the good and bad eye tells us of the perspective we hold in life how we look at things but how we look at things is actually determined by who we really serve or worship in life. If we serve money or our own selfish interest then the way we look at any situation will be coloured by what or who we serve. Let’s say we have a bussiness owner or CEO and he is confronted with a social worker who approaches him for donations for the support of refugees. If he is someone who serves money , then he will either reject the request because it will detract from his bottom line or he will actually donate money because he would look bad in public or in the eyes of his peers if he did not give anything hence he would be giving to maintain his stature in the community or he could also give but in a manner in which he will be able to claw back some gain to his bottom line because he serves money. The donation would have to be tax exempt, he would insist on some publicity that would increase his personal stature or his company’s profile in the community that would in the long run bring more sales and more money. He would always be doing a “win-win” configuration in all his deals.

If he actually served God and is driven by His interests then the donation would be in secret with no one knowing but God and it would be given to really make a difference in the lives of those refugees because he loves them. If he serves God then how he looks at the refugees would be completely different, he would see them in a sympathetic light as people who have been displaced due to persecution or poverty or misfortune. He would see them with the same kind of dignity as his other corporate figures and accord them the same reverence. If he serves money, then refugees would be a threat to his bottom line as he is compelled to consider giving money to them because it looks good. He would have automatically a dim view of the refugees as a nuisance people who have intruded into his society, plagued his conscience, threatened his comfortable way of life. He would focus on their faults. He would not view them with the dignity they deserve as people in the image of God because he views them according to their net worth. They have negative net worth and he treats them with contempt. He is not going to invite them to his house for dinner or mix with them and he is going to associate all sorts of negative issues with them like, being criminals, smelly, uncouth or grasping people.

We simply cannot hedge our bets because the way the human heart is designed we only worship one master. Jesus is saying to us we either worship Him or money because the two are polar opposites. The worship of Jesus will cause us to give away the wealth generously which is the polar opposite of worshipping money which will compel us to hoard ever penny unless the donation nets us more money , good will or power which can be in the end leveraged for more money. What we worship will progressively change us and our perspective over time we will either grow money godly as we give our money and time away or more money minded as we gain more and more over time. The two directions are in opposite directions and the growth is in opposite directions hence we cannot hedge our bets We only have one life to live

The aim the parable is to tell us that we can only serve one master at a time. If we serve God then even in small things even in the use of our money we will leverage it so that the money that we have and earned will be used for eternal purposes. There is nothing wrong with earning money. It is how we use our money, we either accumulate it all for our selfish gain and comfort or we use the money that we earn to extend His kingdom, to love our neighbour. We will be judged on how we lived our lives and the proper us of money will determined on how we are judged. If we cannot be trusted to use the money He has gifted us with to honour Him in this life how can we be trusted to rule and be heirs with Him in eternal life. Hence what we do with our money has an eternal dimension, it is a stewardship. Money is not to be rejected in some sanctimonious fashion as if we are to live on fresh air and sunshine only. Jesus advocates a practical spirituality where money has its place in our lives even though it is gingerly cast a.

Ellis Tan was a high flying corporate executive with a GLC but who was also very committed to serving in his church preaching and teaching. He has three children of which two were still in high school. Leaders from his church approached him and wanted him to go full time and said that they would match his corporate salary and they thought that he was worth that much in the corporate field hence the church of God must also value him and pay him as much so that the transition to full time work would be less painful. The church was a metropolitan church with a lot of executives in the corporate field hence they thought he would be culturally well adapted to serve them and they wanted to the members to be able to view him with the same kind of respect as their pastor as their corporate colleagues.

A. What do you think of the kind of approach the leaders have to wards hiring Ellis.
B. Would the church be able to solve its lack of man power by just matching the corporate sector?
C. What kind of message does this hiring policy send to the congregation.

Answers are available.