Saturday, March 30, 2024

2024.03.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 6:19–24

Read Matthew 6:19–24

Questions from the Scripture text: What must they not lay up where (Matthew 6:19)? What three things happen there? Where should they lay them up instead (Matthew 6:20)? What doesn’t happen there? What will our treasure’s location determine (Matthew 6:21)? What body part is this treasuring presented as in Matthew 6:22? How does the eye relate to the rest of the body? In what condition does the eye need to be? With what result? What effect will a bad eye have (Matthew 6:23)? On how much of yourself? What might you think you have in you? But what might it turn out to be instead? What effect does this self-deception on the level of your darkness? Who can slave for two masters (Matthew 6:24)? What two outcomes are suggested for if he tries? Which two potential masters, especially, can’t we serve at the same time?

What difference does God’s secret and open reward make? Matthew 6:19–24 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that if we learn, by grace, to treasure God in secret (and openly) both now and forever, it will transform our whole self, our whole life.

To this point, Matthew 6 has been urging us to live for the reward of Him that sees in secret—in that place, the heart, that is still in secret, even when we are out in the open (e.g. Matthew 6:17-18). Now, the evangelist presses home to us the superiority of having God as our reward.

Earthly treasures can’t last. In their culture, fine clothing was very costly indeed (cf. James 2:3), but the reality is that purple silk is a fine meal for a moth (Matthew 6:19). And NKJ’s “rust” translates a word that refers to any sort of corroding or degradation as happens even with wood or stores of grain. What about things that don’t corrode? Gold, gemstones, etc., are prime targets for thieves. And even if we happen to get our wealth all the way to the finish line, it immediately abandons us. It is sure that we brought nothing into this world and can take nothing out (cf. 1 Timothy 6:7). So, too, with other earthly treasure like the admiration of men (cf. Matthew 6:2Matthew 6:5Matthew 6:16). All earthly religion, all that is from man or for man, is earthly treasure. 

Even worse, our treasure shapes our heart. This is one way that we can trace back from the symptoms of an earthly-obsessed heart to its origin in the disease of failing to treasure God Himself. Many who have accurate doctrine do not see all things from the lens of treasuring God. They do not value, above all other things for themselves, an increasing knowledge of God, increasing capacity to delight in Him, increasing actual delight in Him, increasing holiness that looks forward to the sinlessness of heaven… these are the treasures of heaven (Matthew 6:20). They are not just of a different quality, as if heavenly treasure is fabric that is immune to moths or metal that is immune to rust. Heavenly treasure is of a different kind altogether. 

But many who think that they have this heavenly treasure have their heart filled not with these things but with what they can obtain, how they can advance themselves, how they can advance a set of political opinions, what they can accomplish in this world. Surely, a heavenly minded man may end up doing many of the same things. But we must be alarmed if our thoughts and desires and delights and conversations are not full of Him Himself. If our hearts are spiritually sick, we may be in need of a treasure transplant from God the Holy Spirit.

Proper treasure gives true light. What we treasure determines how we see anything and everything. It is the eye, which is the “lamp” of ourself. It is expertly placed in God’s design for the self (soma/“body,” NKJ Matthew 6:22) sitting on its stand (cf. Matthew 5:15) where the whole house (of the self) can be full of light. But failing to treasure God Himself is like a lamp without fuel, or with a bad wick, or a dark glass. It fills the life with darkness (Matthew 6:23). When the believer is “full of light,” he himself radiates light in whatever place the Lord has put him (cf. Matthew 5:15). The only way to be of genuine earthly use is to be heavenly minded (cf. Colossians 3:1–4)!

The danger of self-deception in treasuring. In talking about the darkness of lacking a “God-entranced vision of all things,” Matthew 6:23 warns us against a very serious danger. There are those who think they have light in them, but that light is actually darkness. You may have met someone (or be someone!) who is obsessed with accurate theology, or community service, or political action for biblical morality, or keeping particular parts of the moral law… any or all of whom may say much about a “biblical worldview.” And a right view of each of these is part of a biblical worldview. 

But a worldview cannot, ultimately, be “biblical,” unless it has as its core, its light, God Himself: Him Himself and the sort of having of Him that we will have forever. Many who lack this view of Him, this love of Him, think that they have light. “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Some who have a “biblical” worldview are in even greater darkness than the benighted pagans, due to self-deception in this area of what they treasure. 

The reality of being mastered by what we treasure. Finally, the evangelist turns to our treasure as a master. We know this by the end of Matthew 6:24, where he uses the word “mammon.” Originally meaning that in which one put his confidence, by the time of the New Testament, it especially referred to riches (since that is what most men have their confidence in). A common English idiom helpfully brings these ideas together in a way that helps us understand the word: “what we put our stock in.” 

The Bible repeatedly warns us about wealth in this regard. Loving money always means hating God, Matthew 6:24b (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9–10; James 4:3–4; 1 John 2:15–17). And it repeatedly urges us to consider earthly wealth of infinitesimal value compared to God Himself and the godliness that we have in Him and with Him. Being loyal to God always means devaluing earthly wealth, Matthew 6:24c (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17–19; James 1:10, James 4:5).

Happily, the Lord has given us wise, generous, blessed commands to worship Him. If we see worshiping Him as being granted to draw near to Him in Christ, to turn our attention from the creation to its Creator Himself, then we will be much helped. Such worship is a sort of “treasure training,” an exercise in having the Creator Himself as our treasure above all created things. And as His Spirit gladdens and strengthens us in the knowledge of Him through Christ, God Himself trains our treasuring. May the Lord give you, morning by morning, evening  by evening, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, to treasure Him Whom you have in secret—God, and all that is part of having Him as your reward, and with God as your reward in heaven, may He give you to live well on the earth

What are your thoughts and desires and goals and hopes full of? What gives you the most joy in life? What do you tend to obsess about? What does this all tell you about where your heart is and what your treasure is? What has God given to you for the training of your treasuring? How have you been using it? How do you intend to use it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Yourself for us, so that through Christ, we might know You has having given Yourself to us to be our Treasure now and forever. Grant that your Spirit would keep shaping our hearts this way, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH467 “Cast Down, O God the Idols”

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