I recently had a conversation with my parents about their financial situation. Not knowing their situation, I was carefully trying to find a place in our phone conversation to ask them if they were doing okay. As we talked my dad offered that information without me asking. I am happy to report that the Lord is providing for their daily needs.
But what about the future? Will our family have enough money for the future? Should we start saving madly for the future? Should we invest in crypto currency and open several retirement funds? Is the stock market safe to invest in? What is going to happen?
In this chapter, Jesus addressed these questions in a general way. He talked about wealth and worry. As we look at these verses, let us listen carefully and learn from the Lord’s teaching.
- Wealth is not a good treasure (19-21).
It has been interesting to read articles about a new form of money called crypto currency. You may have heard about Bitcoin. A Central American country decided to do away with their currency and use Bitcoin instead. However, this week, I read an article about several times where the new currency was hacked by computer thieves.
a. Earthly treasure can be lost.
Jesus told his disciples that hoarding physical treasure was a risky thing. If your treasure was expensive clothing, a moth could eat holes in it. If your treasure was made of metal, it could be destroyed by rust. If your treasure was locked away, it could be found and stolen. All of these treasures have the possibility of losing their value. The point is that physical treasure is not a wise investment for a Christian.
Q: Is it wrong to have money or to save or invest it? No.
“Neither here not elsewhere is the possession of wealth condemned: it is being enslaved to riches that is fatal, and to possess great riches without being enslaved is not easy” (Plummer 107).
Jesus’ point is that we should not be hoarding riches which can so easily be lost. Instead, we should invest in something better.
b. Heavenly treasure will never be lost.
Jesus contrasted earthly treasures with treasures in heaven. What was he talking about?
“Spiritual treasure should be defined as broadly as possible as everything that believers can take with them beyond the grave e.g. holiness of character, obedience to all of God’s commandments, souls won for Christ, and disciples nurtured in the faith” (Blomberg 123).
We could add Sunday School classes, missionaries sent, or money invested in supporting God’s work. These heavenly treasures will not lose their value during a recession or burglary but will have value for eternity. They are worthy investments for Christians to make.
c. Wealth can take your focus away from what is most important.
Jesus wisely noted that what someone values will be the focus of his heart. When you value earthly treasures, your mind will constantly be thinking about them. When you value spiritual treasures, your mind will be constantly thinking about them.
APPLIC. What is it that has captured your heart? If you are constantly thinking about earthly treasures, consider what Jesus says here. Devote your heart’s attention to what really matters.
- Wealth is not a good master (24).
[Read Matt. 6:24.]
“Against those who might protest that they can accumulate both spiritual and earthly treasures, Jesus replies that they have only two options. They must choose between competing loyalties” (Blomberg 124).”
a. You can only be devoted to one master.
When we hire a new driver for DSB Transport, we make it clear that the on-call driving job needs to be the primary job. If someone wants to drive for Uber, there is always the possibility of a conflict. So, the driver needs to choose whether he will make this job the priority to alleviate any conflicts with other jobs.
Jesus told his disciples that it is impossible to serve two masters. Back then many people were slaves not servants. Imagine a slave who was owned by two masters. How would he know which one to obey if there was a conflict of commands? One master tells him to go into town. The other tells him to harvest the crop. Which one would he obey?
b. You can’t love God and riches at the same time.
Jesus used the two Master illustration to show how someone could not serve the Lord and mammon at the same time. Mammon is “the Aramaic word for ‘wealth or property'” (Barbieri 33). Someone who serves the Lord, puts Him in front of all other activities. Someone who serves riches, will put them in front of all other priorities.
“Jesus proclaims that unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of our life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all” (Blomberg 124).
APPLIC. Which one are you serving? Are you completely given over to what the Lord wants in your life, or are you too concerned with acquiring wealth to have any time for Him?
- Worry is not a good practice (25-34).
[Read Matt. 6:25-34.]
“If a person is occupied with the things of God, the true Master, how will he care for his ordinary needs in life, such as food, clothing, and shelter?” (Barbieri 33)
It is a real question but one that Jesus answers in this next section.
a. Don’t worry about your food and clothing (25-32).
“Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious” (Blomberg 125).
Jesus tells us to stop worrying about needs such as food and clothing. He points to God’s provision for the birds. God the Father feeds them and they don’t have to plant crops and store the produce in barns. If God provides for the birds so easily, why should we worry?
Jesus then asks two question: (1) Are you not more valuable than the birds? God has made you His sons and daughters. You are more valuable to Him than the birds. Think about that. (2) Does your worry have any real power to make changes? He actually asks if worry can add a cubit to your stature.* The answer is obviously no. We can’t make ourselves taller by worrying. So what is the use of worrying?
Jesus tells us not to worry about clothing our family. With thrift stores on every corner, it seems strange to wonder how our family will be clothed, but for some people this is a real and pressing need.
Jesus points us to the lilies in the field. These flowers don’t rise up early and go to bed late worrying about what they will wear the next day. But God still makes them more beautiful than Solomon with all his wealth. If God can clothe the flowers in the field, despite the fact that they have a very temporary life span, why don’t we trust Him to provide for our clothing?
His conclusion is that we shouldn’t worry about food, drink, or clothing. God the Father is aware of our needs. We just need to trust Him.
“One great feature of heathenism is living for the present. Let the heathen, if he will, be anxious. He knows nothing of a Father in Heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When bereaved of those whom we love, we are not to ‘sorrow as those who have no hope.’ When tried by anxieties about this life, we are not to be over-careful, as if we had no God, and no Christ” (Ryle 60).
APPLIC. Are you trusting the Lord to meet these basic needs? Or are you daily bothered by worry wondering how things will turn out tomorrow? Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5-6). He will take care of you.
b. Make God’s kingdom your priority (33).
Jesus tells us to replace our worry with seeking after God’s kingdom and His righteousness. There are two thoughts here: kingdom and righteousness. First, we should seek His kingdom. We ought to find out what our King’s intentions are and do our part to promote His policies and plans. Second, we should seek His righteousness. We ought to live our lives patterned after His perfect example. We will never be perfect, but we should seek to live in a way that pleases Him.
As a result, when we are seeking God’s kingdom and living righteously, He will provide for our needs. We don’t need to worry.
APPLIC. Does it seem too simplistic? Does it seem too difficult? Whatever your thoughts, it is plain that the Lord values us and has promised to provide for our needs when we do as He has commanded. So trust Him and do what He says. You will see that He always keeps His promises.
c. Don’t fret about tomorrow (34).
Jesus concludes His thoughts by telling us not to worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about its own problems. Today’s troubles are all you need to take care of right now.
“We are not to carry cares before they come. We are to attend to to-day’s business, and leave to-morrow’s anxieties till to-morrow dawns” (Riley 61).
APPLIC. We often think about issues that might happen in the future. These issues and their possible outcomes are often what keep us up at night worrying. But does worrying really make a difference? Does worrying remove the problem or the possibility? No, it only makes us feel worse. Instead of worrying, let the Lord take care of each situation.
Jesus made things very clear today.
- Wealth is not a good treasure. Instead of focusing on physical treasures that can be destroyed or stolen, we should focus on spiritual treasure that will last for eternity.
- Wealth is not a good master. Instead of being pulled in two directions, we should choose to serve only the Lord.
- Worry is not a good practice. Instead of worrying about our physical needs, we should trust the Lord to provide as we faithfully serve Him.
What is it that the Lord has spoken to you about today? I hope that you will choose to set aside whatever it is that is turning you from the Lord. If it is your desire for wealth or your worry about future possibilities, realize that the Lord loves you and will meet your needs. You just need to follow Him and trust Him.
* If your Bible talks about adding time to life rather than a cubit to stature, consider this: “The NIV marginal note ‘single cubit to his height’ is a somewhat more natural translation of the Greek than ‘single hour to his life,’ but it does not fit as well into the context. Addidn a foot and one half to one’s height is not the trifling amount Jesus’ flow of thought seems to demand, and stature does not fit the context of provisions of food and clothing nearly as well as longevity” (Blomberg 125). Also, “ἡλικία size, age. The passage can reger to the length of life or to the size or stature of the person” (R&R 19).
Barbieri Jr., Louis A., “Matthew” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, 33.
Blomberg, Craig L., Matthew, Vol. 22 of The New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman, 1992, 122-27.
Plummer, Alfred, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew, Minneapolis: James Family, reprint n.d., 105-110. (Note: This commentary was not very helpful. It seems that the author likes to quote the Talmud and other Jewish texts with as much authority as the Bible.)
Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, 19.
Ryle, J. C., Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 1, Matthew – Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint 1977, 55-61.