is a curious thing: the richest people in the world, the citizens of America,
seem obsessed with the idea that they do not have enough. Enough what? Enough
of anything of value at all. It is with some trepidation, then, that we
present an opposing view:
Mat 6:19-24 NIV
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust
destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20)
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not
destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (22) "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your
eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. (23)
But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the
light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (24) "No one can serve two masters. Either he
will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and
despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
my wife’s father advances in age, we have found it increasingly difficult to
explain to him why we don’t chase money the way he does. In money he finds his
life’s worth; therefore, the only form of charity which is acceptable is giving
money. There can be no value in living in holiness (poverty or not); only in
wealth. Why do we chase this thing called money?
some of us, it’s a matter of security. We want to be OK now, but
especially OK for the future. We have nightmares of starving at the
county poor house. More commonly, we have visions of being dependent upon
our adult children. For some, that’s an issue of security; for others,
others, it is a tool of vainglory. It is how I show my neighbors which of
us has arrived. I suspect that better than half of all full size pickups
are purchased for that reason. As one car salesman explained it to me,
they come in, they see it and they buy it as quickly as possible – before
reality sets in.
problem for the Christian is the impact this desire has upon the devotion
needed to be a real Christian. We want to compartmentalize our lives – but
then we find that all the compartments are part of the same ship.
light of the eye
particular expression needs some explanation. In Greek thought of the time
(which would have been commonplace to Christ’s hearers) seeing was done by the
eye projecting a ray into the darkness. So the listener would have understood
this to be a metaphor for spiritual sight.
the pure, all things are pure.
So it is that they see clearly in matters spiritual.
spiritually corrupt are always looking for a loophole, or a hidden
meaning, or some sort of fraud. Since the Gospel is “too good to be true”
they’re sure it isn’t.
you see, however, that the difference here is NOT the Gospel – but the
perception of the individual? If your view is warped by the love of money and
obedience to its dictates, things soon look out of shape. That’s why the
Scripture is so often described as bring light.
modern thinking, two problems arise which might not have been apparent at the
time of Christ:
is it possible to change my view of the world at all? Isn’t it something
which is just “there?” The answer is yes – but sometimes requires a
twelve step program.
can I have a world view which is different from everybody else? It’s a
problem the Christian faces in a number of places; for example, there are
still Christians who believe that divorce is, in general, morally wrong.
is an important insight here: if you have the mind set on things above, the
spiritual mind, it will free your body from sin. But the love of money breaks
that mind, trying to get you to serve both God and money. Satan knows you
can’t do that; he knows that you cannot serve two masters. He just wants to be
the one you will serve.
please, that the mere possession of money is not what is at issue. You can
have very little money and pursue it greatly – which still makes you greedy.
is one thought for you: if you think money has not mastered you, what is your
reaction to the next giving opportunity? Do you find yourself making excuses
about why you can’t give, or praising God for the chance to give?
Mat 6:25-34 NIV
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than
food, and the body more important than clothes? (26)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than
they? (27) Who of you by worrying can add a
single hour to his life? (28) "And why do you worry about clothes? See
how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. (29) Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his
splendor was dressed like one of these. (30)
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and
tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
little faith? (31) So do not worry, saying,
'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' (32) For the pagans run after all these things, and
your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (33)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be
given to you as well. (34) Therefore do not
worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough
trouble of its own.
an absolute sense, food and clothing (and other things) are a necessity. You
don’t want to be running around in a Wisconsin winter with no clothing;
crossing Death Valley, you’d probably want to pack food and water.
notice something: most of us don’t buy “food.” We may buy Buster’s Amazing
Potato Chips, however. We don’t buy “clothes.” We may buy the elegant tuxedo
recently marked down to 29¢. So when we complain that we don’t have the money
to (for example) give, we are actually saying that we don’t want to make the
sacrifices necessary to do so.
submit that the reason our priorities in giving are so badly in disarray is
that we are making the wrong comparisons. We are contrasting “food” and
tithing when the true comparison is potatoes chips and tithing. We are
contrasting “clothing” and evangelism when the true comparison is the fashion
designer suit and evangelism.
often, the problem is not that we have our priorities askew – it’s that we
never set any, at least not regarding the spiritual realm. The reason we don’t
want to set them is fear – we don’t want to test our faith against the harsh
realities of this world. We have, in short, no confidence in the providence of
all the times in Scripture in which God provides by his providence would make a
long list. The thought that God would provide for His own work was a
commonplace among our ancestors, at least through the 1950’s. Today, no one
speaks of it. Then we shall speak of it now.
are three general types of providence by which God brings about His will:
– as when God fed Elijah by the ravens – is one in which it is easy to see the
source of the providence. This is probably the least common.
– just when it seems everything’s falling apart, God provides. It’s not
miraculous – but the timing is extremely significant.
providence – it looked like Joseph would end his days as the lowest of slaves.
There was no hope, except in God. God overrode the world’s intention.
God – or will God?
He can do it. But will He? Why is it that my life is not littered with such
providences? Is it not due to your unbelief? For this Christ tells the crowd
to open their eyes. They are quite aware of the birds and the grass; they just
haven’t drawn the proper conclusions.
have, in effect, set up our own barrier to God’s providence. We will not trust
Him. Why not? Because we are busily trusting our money. We have taken two
masters, and we are stretching ourselves down two different paths. Sooner or
later, we must decide which leg hurts the most. How much better, then, to make
that decision consciously in calm waters than at sea in the storm!
first the kingdom
promises us, in effect, that our needs will be met if we make the decision to
follow him. This does not mean I’ll get a new sports car. It means, “needs.”
Indeed, it is not unknown to Christendom to have those who intentionally enter
“holy poverty.” But that is not the normal method; if we get our priorities
straight, we shall find ourselves with no lack of what we need. So what should
our priorities be?
Seek first the
kingdom, He tells us. Seek to understand; seek to enter; seek to participate
(that will require obedience!); seek to serve. You can’t store a touchdown if
you’re not on the team.
Then seek God’s
righteousness. Do what is just and fair; stand up for those who cry for
justice to wooden ears; be honest in all your dealings. This will do for a
start, but we all know what the completion of righteousness is: the blood of
Christ. If you’re in, you need to be in 100%.
is a command of your Lord: don’t worry about it. He gives us two varieties of
First is in the
matter of material things. Did you think God Himself does not know our needs?
When you were a little child, did you have to write out the grocery list? Nor
do you need now to write out your list of worries and wants; He already knows
you need same. Trust Him for it.
Next – and by far
the more pernicious – is worrying about tomorrow. Worrying about your daily
bread is a rather limited focus; worrying about what “might be” in the future
is much greater. After all, there are only two outcomes for the bread – yes
and no. Tomorrow contains far more to worry about.
we have is the present
cannot change the past; we can only repeat its mistakes or repent of them. God
has not privileged us to go back and clean up our mistakes. As Stalin once
said, “The past is history – and history belongs to God.”
cannot really control the future; only the now. You think not? If you have
stocks you are likely to have a stock broker. This is a person whose working
hours are dedicated to choosing stocks for her clients; yet even with the best
of advice the market will often just do as it pleases. You can control what
you invest in now – but not the price of the stock tomorrow.
we have is the present, where time and eternity meet. Today is the day, now is
the hour. Therefore “take no thought for the morrow” – because you’ve got
enough troubles today.