Matthew 6b

Matthew 6 B: Father Knows Best!

Jesus lists three acts of righteousness we are to practice- giving, praying and fasting.  Did you also notice He taught us there was a reward from your Father in heaven, who is unseen? We  will receive a reward for acts of righteousness done with the right motive from our Father who is unseen. The fact God is unseen reminds us of a truth we often forget in our day-to-day lives:  that which is seen is temporal; and that which is unseen is eternal.

Now Jesus turns to the error of those who lay up treasure on earth for their reward.  In other words, they mistakenly choose the things of the world for their reward- for their treasure. Here is the problem with this philosophy and lifestyle says Jesus: they are liable to loss and decay. Interesting that rust and moths- which can damage and corrupt come from within the very materials one stores up as treasure. I recall a lady I worked with- whose husband actually buried several hundred dollars in a jar in his backyard. He did this to hide the money from his wife and thieves. Later when he dug it up, he discovered the elements had destroyed the money- it had so deteriorated the bank would not exchange it.

If one is not a Christian, this world is all they have. Unbelievers are referred to as pagans. This world and their life is their kingdom, so this is why ‘ the pagans run after all these things.’

Jesus counsels us to lay up treasure in heaven, where it will  last throughout eternity. There is another reason Jesus advises us to do this- where your treasure is your heart will be also.  The heart follows what it treasures, like thread follows the needle. What we treasure is what we love; take delight in; think about; trust and take hope in.  How does this reward work, you might ask and how is given out?  Listen to these verses:  “ A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” ( Malachi 3: 16)  I Corinthians 3: 10-15 speaks of a future time in eternity when our works will be tested by fire for rewards. If they survive the test of fire- we will receive our rewards; if they burn up we will suffer loss, although we will be saved. Paul says the materials we use will determine whether they will last. Those of wood, hay and stubble will not survive the fire. They are inferior works done for the wrong motive- for recognition of men – to be seen by others. Evidently our works are recorded somehow and will be judged by God for reward, not punishment. These rewards will last throughout eternity.

It is interesting to note in Matthew 25- those whom the Lord rewards for their works, were not even aware of what they had done. So focused were they on feeding the poor, meeting their needs and visiting the sick and the prisoners- they were so conscious of others- they were not conscious of self.  The epitome of selflessness.

I have watched people in the business world work long hours, sacrifice personally and take time away from their family in order to earn recognition from their employer, their company. They wanted  the recognition that brings financial reward, names written on a plaque- which are so temporary they do not satisfy for long at all.  In fact the temporary  joy it brings is soon replaced by the knowledge of how much more they will have to do to keep getting those rewards and applause of men.  And so the search for significance goes on and on- bringing temporary moments of significance – soon to be replaced with the insecurity that asks the question: will I be able to repeat or even surpass this performance. Having reached the top- these questions arise:  Is this all there is? Was it really worth it- so much I want to do it again?

Jesus then talks about the eye.  The human eye, the vision system is extremely complex. Some scientists consider the eye to be an outgrowth of the brain. It controls light. The eye is only the size of a golf ball, yet contains over 2,000,000 moving parts.  It accounts for 40% of all brain activity. It is the most dominant of the five senses. From birth to age 12- 80% of our knowledge comes from our sight. So the comments Jesus makes regarding the eye being good, then the whole body is full of light and if the eye is bad, then the whole body is full of darkness.  This makes sense physically and scientifically. In the KJV, Jesus speaks of the healthy eye being ‘single’. Certainly to be blind is devastating, but also to have double vision is one of the most frustrating conditions.   If your eyes do not work well, they cannot control the light or allow enough light in to function properly. Examinations would be done by a doctor to see what is preventing the vision system from not working properly. Here Jesus is talking about our spiritual sight. The eye is the lamp of the body.  Paul refers to and prays for the eyes of the heart to be opened to see- the spiritual truths.  In fact in the KJV, the same verse in Ephesians refers to the eyes of their understanding.  When a person is lost, they are spiritually blind and cannot ‘ see’ or understand spiritual truths- they are foolishness to them.

Light is necessary for vision. Jesus is the light of the world, in whom there is no darkness. When we get saved, we contain this light, which we are to put on a stand and let it shine. And where do we want the light to shine? In the places of darkness, where the light of the truth of the Gospel might break through to the spiritually blind.  When John the Baptist was in prison awaiting execution, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘ are you the one to come?’.  Jesus answered: “ Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor.” ( Luke 7)   These were physical miracles that fulfilled prophecy, but they also represent the spiritual rebirth where spiritually blind have the eyes of their heart opened, people crippled by sin, walk; people are cleansed of their sins as lepers were- ears are opened to hear the truth and those dead in sin and trespasses are raised to walk in the newness of life. What a Savior!

Jesus then makes this statement :  “ No man 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 two masters. You cannot serve God and money.”

Do you understand this truth about two masters?    A single minded person is not one given to hypocrisy. And hypocrisy is the inevitable result of trying to please and serve two masters. We must choose this day whom we will serve. In fact every day- there is a battle for the believer between the flesh which has its eye on things of the world or the spirit which has its eyes on things above.  Money ( mammon, KJV) is not evil or immoral- it is the ‘ love of money that is the root of all types of evil.  When you try to serve two masters, this means you have to keep your eyes on both in order to follow them. But the decisions will come when the two masters go a different direction- which one will you follow? You cannot follow both- choose this day whom you will serve.

The carnal Christian who sometimes follows the dictates of his/her master- the old nature and thus sins- is referred to as double-minded and being tossed about like the waves. However, the carnal Christian who attempts to follow and serve two masters is miserable. They cannot enjoy their sin, nor can they enjoy the Lord.

“ Therefore I tell you, do not worry ( take no thought,KJV) for 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?” ( Matthew 6: 25)

How can this be, you ask?  And believe me you are not alone in wondering at this statement- do not worry about your life.

Let me remind all of us of what we know:

  1. God never promised the absence of trouble; however, He has promised the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  2. God is able to keep us from falling and  present us before His glorious presence without fault. ( Jude 24)
  3. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2Tim. 1;7)
  4. He is able to work all things together for good. ( Romans 8:28)
  5. He always lives to intercede for us. ( Hebrews 7:25)
  6. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  If God is for us- who can be against us?

So knowing what I know about God – who is all powerful, all knowing, merciful, loving, just and holy I can state three facts with certainty

  1. I know God, My Father, knows what’s best!
  2. I know- I don’t know.
  3. I know He cares for me!

He has told me and you:  ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched; nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God! ( Isaiah 43)

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for His rod and His staff comfort me. ( Psalm 23)

You know what else?  Twice in this passage Jesus tells us your Father knows what you have need of – before you ask Him.

The Lord loves us. He pities us. He is ready to help us.  Here is how it works:

Take no thought for your life. Instead think about God. And remember- what comes to your mind when you think about God may be the most important thing about your life.

You see we have our travel itinerary already set- mapped out.  We want good health; financial security, our children and/or loved ones to be okay and no big problems for any of us. In other words- we want life to be easy, smooth sailing, no disruptions that threaten any of the above. Problem is- our itinerary is not the same as God’s plans for us.  He says I have routed you through the cities of Hard Times, Sickness and Uncertainty.

Why God?  Answer to that question is:  I Know My Father Know’s Whats’ Best!  I know I don’t. And I know He cares.

When we get focused on our itinerary, our kingdom- whose kingdom gets ignored?   But you say- I have reason(s) to be worried.

Jesus tells us why we should not worry. It does not alter the situation, it does not change things, in fact makes them worse.  Can you lay awake at night and worry a solution to your problems? More than likely what you keep thinking,- ‘ is we will never get out of this mess!’

But you know what else worry does?  It betrays a fragile faith. Jesus calls us who worry about our life- ‘ oh ye- of little faith!’

The word, worry, comes from a Greek word that means ‘ to divide the mind.’ Anxiety and worry create a double-minded thinker. And as Jesus clearly explains who by worrying can solve anything. In fact worrying about tomorrow’s troubles voids today’s provision and strengths.

Paul has provided us with the solution and it is a two-pronged approach:  Gods’ part and our part. You see worry, on our part , is taking responsibility we are not supposed to take- for we are taking on God’s part.  In the familiar verses in Philippians 4, Paul begins in verse 4- with an admonition to : “ Rejoice in the Lord always!” Then for emphasis Paul repeats: “ I will say it again: Rejoice!” (NIV)

Paul then reminds of what is in the unseen- “ The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ( This is our part).  And the peace of God, which transcends  all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ( That’s God’s part)

Paul then adds a postscript that is also our part:  “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received from me or seen in me ( Paul)- put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ( Phil. 4: 8,9)

Paul in this same passage tells us he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Contentment is learned. Where do we learn contentment?  Jesus said: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ( Matthew 11)

Could it be this easy?  Well, in my opinion it is easy to understand, but often difficult to do, depending upon the trouble. But remember, He will never place more on you than you can bear.

So we are to:

  1. Not worry- it is non-productive, creates double-mindedness and saps us of strength.
  2. Pray about everything- ‘ cast  your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.’
  3. This is done with thanksgiving.

Contentment is realizing that God has supplied all  I need for my present happiness.

Jesus gives us two comparisons of contrast to show us the foolishness of not trusting our Heavenly Father to provide for us.  Did you notice in Paul’s letter how he described this peace? It is the peace of God. Not peace as the world gives, but as God gives. This peace is imported directly from the throne room of heaven.  Do you think God worries? Has bouts of anxiety? NO- He exists in perfect peace because He is perfect in all things.  God says here I will give you my peace- it is a peace that passes understanding and will guard your heart and mind.

In contrasting God’s care for us- Jesus says if God feeds the birds, how much more will He do for you. If God clothes the grass of the field with beautiful flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He do for you and me- and then Jesus adds- of ye of little faith.

Do you understand what your worries and anxieties reveal?  They reveal our priorities.  Our priorities are  revealed not only in our anxieties, but also in our activities and our ambitions. Seeking- refers to ambitions.  Did you notice the pagans were running after these things. That speaks of their priorities.

Are you a list maker?  I am.  I have a daily list, a weekly list, a monthly list and some lists that are even further into the future.  I usually rank those by priority- that is what I must absolutely get done tomorrow, and other things that can wait until later in the week and then they work their way up my list to become a number one priority. So our activities reveal our priorities. Some have said- let me look at your checkbook, and your calendar and I can tell you what your priorities are about.  How we spend our money- or don’t spend our money and how we spend our time, or don’t spend our time reveal our priorities, our ambitions and activities which are the more important.

There is nothing wrong with keeping lists. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing our activities and there is certainly nothing wrong with ambition. It is when a Christian has their  priorities wrong- the trouble starts.

Look at what Jesus has been teaching us here in this amazing Sermon on the Mount.  He has told us three activities ( giving, praying and fasting) we are to be engaged in and how to go about them.  To make them a priority, Jesus has said our Heavenly Father has an incentive plan.  He has told us not to lay up treasures here on earth. And  He tells us why- for where your treasure is, your heart will be also. Treasure speaks of priority in a person’s life.  Priorities can become our masters- and we cannot serve two masters.  Our activities reflect our priorities. Anxiety ranks our priorities.  So Jesus tells us not to worry, be anxious about your life- what you eat or drink or your body and what you will wear.

He further adds, these are the things the pagans run after- these are their priorities, their anxieties and what they are ambitious to possess.

Jesus then instructs us to seek the kingdom of God first. Seek speaks of ambition. Asking, seeking, knocking, all speak of our activities and anxieties which represent our ambitions.

Here is the promise:  if I make seeking Gods’ kingdom, His rule and reign in my life- my number priority- God has promised to supply all my needs. God has promised to take care of my kingdom, my life, my concerns.  God, our Father, has said if you make Me and my kingdom the priority of your life,   I will take care of your kingdom, your life.  Why do we so readily forget this promise? Because we focus on other priorities.

Measure your activities in light of eternity. Are God’s priorities- my priorities? In essence, we are involved in a family business. We each have different roles, different gifts and work in many different areas- doctors, lawyers, landscaping, banking, production line in a factory, selling insurance, cars, etc. We are to do this with all our might so that they might please God and give us a pulpit from which to proclaim the Good News.

We are to check our anxieties for these reflect our priorities and may also reveal where we have ‘ little faith.’

And most of all- what is your ambition?  Is our number one ambition to seek first the kingdom of God? Do you have a conscious awareness of God at all times?   Or is seeking the kingdom of God one of those things on your list- that somehow only come up on Sunday morning and maybe a few minutes in the morning to read a short devotional?

Then when all of a sudden things in our world go amiss- we begin to seek God’s rule and reign in our lives.

Listen to the pure logic of Pauls’ rhetorical question: “ If God is for us, who can be against us? He, who did not spare His Own Son, but gave Him up for us all- how will He not also along with Him graciously give us all things? “  ( Romans 8: 31,32)

Do you get that?

The Lord Jesus says I know all your sins, and I have forgiven them every one. I have cast them into the depths of the sea. I have washed your sins away. I have set you free. I have disarmed the evil one. Come unto me and I will give you rest. I will give you Myself- my energy. I will help you – I will uphold you.

Trust me with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge me and I will direct your path.

Don’t worry about  your life. I have got you – if you stumble you will not fall. I will guide you.

  • I know , God, my Father, knows the best way!
  • I know- I don’t !
  • I know He cares for me and mine.
Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14