Serving Jesus through discipleship

Choose This Day Who You Will Serve

A Treatise On Matthew 6:19 – 34

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I referenced Matthew 6:19-34 so that you could follow along in your translation of the Bible. I use the New American Standard Bible (NASB) in almost all of my Bible quotes. If I use another translation it will be noted.

The Open Edition of the New American Standard ...

The Open Edition of the New American Standard Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The topic of the first section (verses 19 – 24) is wealth; the topic of the next section is anxiety or worry.

Jesus point in verses 19 through 24 is that earthly treasure, whatever that may be is at best temporary. If your treasure is money, thieves can steal it! Your own lustful desires can cause you to misspend your wealth thereby depriving you of both your treasure and probably the thing you spend it on.

But let’s say you wisely spend your money (by earthly standards) on houses, stocks, cars, art, etc. The houses require constant maintenance to preserve their value. Even then, ups and downs in the market can cause you to lose your equity if not your whole investment. Then there are natural disasters like floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes that can destroy your house and potentially wipe you out. The same is true for the other investments! None of them is lasting!

Another thing you have probably forgotten; none of them are yours! We are reminded of this in Psalm 24, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” So by attempting to amass treasure for yourself you are stealing from God! You need to ask yourself these questions: “What would God have me do with what He has given me?”; “How can I use this to honor God?” If you ask yourself those questions, answer them honestly, and then act appropriately on the answers, you will be storing up treasure in heaven! Jesus then declares that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. He makes this declaration so that you can assess yourself; is your treasure on earth or in heaven?

When He states that the eye is the lamp of the body he is using a metaphor. The Greek word for eye is ‘ophthalmos’. One of the possible translations for this is ‘envy’. Doctor Donald A. Hagner’s commentary on Matthew says, “… is the ‘evil eye’ of Near Eastern cultures – an eye that enviously covets what belongs to another”. Dr, Hagner’s translation of verses 22 and 23 is:

The Eye enables a person to see light. If, therefore, your eye is generous, your whole person will be full of light. But if your eye is covetous, your whole person will be full of darkness. If therefore, the very organ that should bring you light is the source of darkness in you, how great is your darkness.

As is typical in the Bible, light is a metaphor for the truth or God (God is a source if spiritual illumination and strength) and of course, darkness is a metaphor for the opposite. It seems to me that what this is saying is that if your treasure is physical, you are chasing a false treasure!

Finally, it is impossible to be the slave of two masters. Make no mistake, you are the slave of that which you serve. You were created by God to serve Him! Again I refer to Psalm 24 referenced above. You must either be the slave of God or of earthly wealth. You can’t do both or divide your time. One of your masters will appropriate your affections. Your actions will show everyone where your desires lay.

My NASB Bible inserts a heading at this point which I decided to leave out. The heading is “A Cure for Anxiety”. My New King James translation’s heading is “Do Not Worry”. My New Living translation’s heading is “Jesus teaches about Worry”. My point is that the heading leads the reader to believe that a new topic is being introduced. But is it?

In some translations, the first word in verse 25 is “therefore”. I believe we have all heard a preacher say “When you see the word ‘therefore, you should find out what it is there for!” The Encarta Online dictionary defines therefore as “and so, or because of that”. It stands to reason what follows is an extension of what was said previously. In a nutshell, what was Jesus’ point? Jesus’ point was that either you serve God or you serve yourself, your covetous nature.

My NASB starts off “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life”. I believe what Jesus means can be phrased like this, “If God is your master, why do you worry about the temporal things? Things like “What will I eat?” or “What will I drink?” or “What will I wear?” I will paraphrase verses 26 through 32.

Doesn’t God take care of the birds? They don’t sow or reap or gather crops into a storehouse, yet they are fed by your Heavenly Father! Does this mean that some birds don’t go hungry? No! Does this mean that some birds don’t die of starvation? No! But they don’t shorten their lives with worry, either!

Consider the flowers. They don’t have to work for their attire. Not even Solomon was clothed as beautifully as one of the lilies of the field. Your Heavenly Father bestows this beauty this beauty on flowers which are here today and gone tomorrow. Does this mean that all flowers are beautifully decked out? No! It does mean that God has given to each what He wanted them to have.

Aren’t you more important than flowers and birds? So, if God takes care of the flowers and the birds, won’t he take care of you also. Does this mean that you will never be hungry? No! Does this mean that you will never be thirsty? No! Does this mean that you will never be poorly clothed? No! Will working hard and worrying about what you will eat and what you will drink and what you will wear mean that you will never be hungry or thirsty or poorly clothed? No!

So if working hard and worrying produces the same result as having faith and trusting in God, why worry? Live by faith!

In verse 33, Jesus is telling you how you should live to produce the heavenly treasure. Wait, didn’t we talk about that in verse 24. He who serves God will have treasure in heaven. To serve God, the most important thing you can do is make the kingdom of God and the righteousness He demands your number one priority. If you do that and let God take care of the necessities of life, you just may find that God will take care of you. You may get hungry or thirsty or become naked, but if that is God’s will, nothing you can do will change that. Don’t forget that God may test your faith!

English: Biting one's lip can be a physical ma...

English: Biting one’s lip can be a physical manifestation of worry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember how God tested Abraham’s faith. When Abraham was a young man, God told him that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham trusted God! Abraham had his first child when he and Sarah were well past child bearing age. Later when God told to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise, Abraham by faith obeyed. He was fully prepared to sacrifice Isaac and was in the act when God stopped him. Abraham didn’t know how God would fulfill His promise through Isaac if Isaac was dead, but Abraham believed that God would do what He promised!

Don’t make the mistake of the “Christian” who believes that verse 33 means that if you seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will never be hungry or thirsty or naked. That is not what this verse is saying!

Finally, verse thirty-four reiterates the imperative “don’t worry” about things that you have no control over. It detracts from your kingdom work!


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5 thoughts on “Choose This Day Who You Will Serve

  1. yes the eye seeing light is a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment but not of see physical vs. spiritual but for the measure of your joy found in enlightenment.

  2. Pingback: Where is Our Joy and Trust? | Stand Up for the Truth

  3. Sonny on said:

    As I have read and re-read this section of the bible I think the entire section is talking about TRUST!

    In verse 19 – 21 it is talking about putting your treasures in heaven. As I think about it a question comes to mind: How does one make a treasure in heaven? For that matter the thinks we might think of as treasure in this life time maybe nothing more than junk in heaven. I am thinking of a joke where a very wealthy man wants to take his gold with him to heaven. He was permitted to do so, but upon arrival he was asked “why did you bring pavement with you?” Anything we might value in this life, God doesn’t need on his side of heaven. So in the eyes of Jesus what could He be telling us what treasure are? In some ways I don’t think we have a clue.

    In verse 22 and 23 it talks about the eye being a lamp unto the body. I have often felt that the eye is a window into one’s person soul. That through the eye you can see what is in a person.

    Then in verse 24 “Choose this day whom you will serve!”

    Verse 25 says do not be anxious about your life “Don’t worry” then comes the examples of how God takes care of the birds and fields. God tells us we have no control over the things of this life. God even compares us to the birds and the fields. Then at the end of verse 30 I kinda feel that God drops upon us a bombshell “Oh you of little faith?”

    I have to stop and wonder why is God questioning us about us being of so little faith.

    Going on in scripture God tells us what the Gentiles seek after; food, clothing and shelter. Hummm these don’t sound like treasures to me. Watching “Swamp People” on the History Channel on TV, doesn’t seem like those people are seeking wealth. But every one of them spends their entire life after food, clothing and shelter. I have seen in person how the people of this world seek after ways to make a living from day to day. And it is not about wealth.

    The last half of verse 32 is another Bombshell “and your heavenly Father knows that you need all of them”

    Verse 33 seems to be the only instructional verse in this whole section.

    “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”

    A friend of mine Ron, told me of the parable of the three servants whom the Master gave them talents; the first one He gave 10 talents, the second He gave 5 talents the third He gave only one talent. We know how the story ends, The first servant was awarded 10 cities to watch over, the second was awards 5 cities to watch over but the third one was called a wicked servant. To me it doesn’t sound like a reward to be given cities to take care of, it sounds like they were given more responsibilities. Where was the reward the TREASURE storied up in heaven for them? If you are like me I missed it for a long time. Well this friend Ron said to me let me re-write the parable for you. What if the servant with just one talent, would have been faithful and brought another talent? Or for that matter just the interest from that one talent. What would have been that servant’s reward? It would have been the same as the first two servant’s rewards! The awards were not being granted cities to rule over. No not at all! The rewards of what the Master said to the servants; “Well done good and faithful servant!” Getting the Master’s praise was their reward.

    So now thinking back over Matthew 6:19-34 let me tell you “Sonny’s Version”

    It is about how we live our lives! It is about being faithful. It is about trusting God!

    The treasure we seek is it earthly or heavenly? Heavenly Pavement or praises from God?

    Do our eyes reflect the light of Christ in our hearts or the darkness’s of this world’s treasure?

    Will we be like the Gentiles (the unbelieving people of this world) seeking to take care of ourselves? Or will we be a people after God.

    Do I really believe that last half of verse 32 that God know all of my needs? And that if I seek after Him and His righteousness then do I believe He will take care of my needs? Like Larry said, I may go hungry, thirsty, naked or without shelter. But never the less Trusting God to take care of me!

    Or do I live like the unbelieving people of this world not living a life different but the same but just with a Christian slant to it?

    What is it I believe? Will God say to me “Oh you of little faith?” Or will God say to me “Well done good and faithful servant!”

    The problem I have dealt with in all my years of my Christian walk is “What does it look like to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and the second question I struggle with even more is, if I knew would I live a life trusting and obeying God that I didn’t have to seek after the things that all my unbelieving friends seek after to live day to day? Would I live that life? How about you?

  4. Pingback: The Ten Commandments of Perfectionism « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  5. What does it look like to seek the kingdom of God and His Righteousness? It looks like Agape love and knowledge of understanding your belief in Jesus by faith. Obeying God is as easy as living in the transformed you. Read my article The Way How to do it.

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