God And Your Stuff

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In this portion of His great sermon, Christ brings us to the subject of our material possessions, and our attitudes towards them. The teaching of this section can perhaps be summarized this way. God does not mind His people having things; He forbids things having His people.

“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. 6:19-34).

In the first three verses, Jesus points to a sure investment. He teaches us that we must seek to lay up treasure. We have no option on whether or not to lay up treasure; we only have a choice of banks. Will it be an earthly bank, or a heavenly one? The determination of which it will be comes through the placement of the heart.

What is meant by the lamp of the body? Christ then uses a Hebrew idiom to pursue the point. Your eye is good meant generosity. Having an eye that was bad referred to a miserly or stingy spirit. One of the key ways to throw back the blinds of the soul and let light suffuse the body is to be generous and open-handed with your earthly goods. This is not mechanical; it is done before the Lord (vv. 22-23).

Whenever we are confronted with radical biblical teaching, we often try to squirm off the point by having it both ways — trying to devise some third option. Christ emphatically closes this door. No one can serve two masters (v. 24). When commands from the two authorities conflict, the one you obey is your lord. And no one, Christ teaches, can simultaneously be in submission to both God and Mammon.

What about the sin of material worries? Christ then teaches on the subject of our anxieties surrounding our provision.

1. He forbids worry about food, drink, and clothes (v. 25).

2. He requires us to work — imitate the birds. They work constantly, but without worry. When was the last time you saw a sparrow with ulcers? And when was the last time you saw a bird waiting for food to fall from the sky? Then Christ says that you are worth far more than these birds. How much more . . .

3. Besides, He says, worry doesn’t even work (v.27).

4. The same goes for our clothing. God adorns the flowers, which are worth far less than you. Why do you worry about clothes? God’s provision is all of grace, and He is gracious. He will provide (vv. 28-31). Christ also presents another “how much more” argument.

5. Christ does not conclude with a suggestion. He commands us not to worry about our stuff (v. 31).

The Gentiles seek these things because they, like us, need them. The Father knows that we need them. The Gentiles simply do not acknowledge God — that is the problem. Our priority must be the kingdom of God — the rest will be provided. Seek God’s kingdom today only — we have enough trouble trying to do that without getting grace for the rest of your life (v. 34).

Does the Father know about the shopping list? Does He know the kids need snow boots? Does He know about the electric bill? Does He know about your old debts that you are trying to pay off? Does He know about your distractions in trying to earn enough to make ends meet? Does He know you are thinking about a second job? Does He know about your concern over preparing adequate meals for the children? Does He know . . . ? Of course He does.

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