By Gene Price
Pastor, Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason
Focal Passage: Matthew 6:19-24
This section of the Sermon on the Mount deals with wealth and possessions. Possessions are important to all people of all ages. Jesus warns to invest in things that will last. Life is too short and eternity too long for us to seek fool’s gold and imitation pearls.
In vv. 19-21, we are told to be careful where we store wealth. We are not to treasure our treasures. It is not wrong to have money (I Timothy 6:17). Whatever God has given us, He wants us to enjoy. So there is nothing wrong with having possessions. The “wrong” comes into play when possessions possess the person. In biblical times, much wealth was found in clothing, food, and money. Much clothing was made with wool and it could be eaten by moths. Clothing didn’t last very long. Grain, another source of wealth, could rot. Some people had their wealth in gold or perhaps silver. With no banks in that day, a thief could easily and very quickly steal your money. Jesus warns us not to put our treasures in anything that can be ruined, rotted, or robbed. Knowing that, a person should invest their money in eternal things.
In vv. 22-23, Jesus tells us to be careful how we see our wealth. Just as the physical eye brings light and direction to the rest of the body, spiritual vision helps a person find true happiness and correctly see the true value of things. Eve’s eyes (Genesis 3:6), Achan’s eyes (Joshua 7:21), and David’s eyes (II Samuel 11:2) were out of focus and brought trouble into their lives. Jesus taught that the spiritual condition of our eyes can have direct effects on our conduct. Sin enters our lives by an unfocused eye. When it comes to wealth, if a person sees wealth the way God sees wealth, they will generously invest in God’s work. With proper focus, a person realizes God gives wealth not only to bless the life of the one possessing wealth, but also to be a blessing to others. If the eye is out of focus, the whole body will be in darkness because the person will not see or realize the presence of God. An unfocused eye will deceive people into putting bodily and earthly treasures ahead of everything else, including God and His work.
In v. 24, we are to be careful not to be a slave to wealth. A person cannot serve God and mammon. Just as a person cannot walk in two directions at the same time or think two thoughts at the same time, it is impossible to serve two masters at the same time. Inevitably everyone will serve one or the other. Many in the church serve mammon in spite of Jesus’ warning. The late Larry Burkett once said, “Christ said the greatest threat to Christianity is not drugs, sex, murder, rape, or even politicians; the greatest threat is materialism.” A person is to serve God and not the things of this world. There is only one throne within the human heart. Jesus is to be on that throne, meaning He is to be our Lord and our Master.
In plain everyday language, a person can focus on eternal things and have earthly things. But you cannot focus on earthly things and have eternal things. We were made to serve the Lord and wealth was created to serve us. The days following the events of the disaster of the World Trade Center caused many to change their priorities and not focus on the things of this world. It was a reminder that God should be first and foremost in our lives every day.