Matthew 24

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Read Matthew 24.

When I was in high school, I had a youth pastor whose father was a fire fighter in Detroit. Right around Christmas time, they were called to a house fire. When they arrived, one person in the family was missing. She had made it out of the house with the rest of the family but went back inside to try to retrieve something.

She never made it out. They found her body a few feet from the door. In her arms she was holding an Intellivision–a video game console they had gotten for Christmas.

If your house were burning, what would you try to rescue from it? If your family was safe, the answer should be “nothing.” But we are physical creatures and we get attached to physical things. The disciples showed this when they pointed out how great Herod’s temple was (v. 1). But Jesus told them not to get too attached to it because it would be completely destroyed one day (v. 2).

Later on, when describing the same attack on Jerusalem, Jesus told them, “Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house” (v. 17). Instead, they should get out of the area as fast as they could (vv. 15-16, 20).

Material things are great and we need them. The problem isn’t that we enjoy material things or own material things or appreciate something that is well-designed and well-built. The problem is that we can be tempted to value material things too much.

When your material possessions (vv. 17-18) or your house of worship (vv. 1-2) or even your own life or acceptance by others (v. 9) matter more to you than serving God, you are not a believer. It is “…the one who stands firm to the end [who] will be saved” (v. 13).

But even if we have genuine faith in Christ that will stand the losses and tests of trials, we still can be tempted to get attached to material things. The antidote to that kind of materialism is remember that this world is not our home. While we live in this world, our citizenship is in Christ’s eternal kingdom. So, we should live this life expecting the return to Christ to establish his kingdom as described in verses 36-51.

How is your focus today? Are you focused on paying the bills, upgrading your lifestyle, and having more and better things? Or are you living for eternity–investing your time and money in things that will not be torn down, like Herod’s temple eventually was?