This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Most people don't know God. Frankly, they are not even acquainted with God, but I hope that many of you are, or will be. You can come to know God if you truly walk with Him, do what He says and obey Him-that's the key. Will you do what God says? Or will you reason around the clear teachings of Jesus?
Greetings, friends around the world!
Once again, this is Roderick C. Meredith speaking to you for the Living Church of God. Here we are in one of the most profound areas of the entire Bible, called the "Sermon on the Mount." We have come through the first several chapters of Matthew and now we've finishing the first half of Matthew 6. In this section Christ talks to us, first of all, about not doing our deeds-and not praying-before men to show off. Then He gives a sample prayer, showing how we are to pray to God in that manner-not repeating those exact words, but praying in the manner that He gave us in what is called the Lord's Prayer. Then Jesus talked to us about fasting, and said that Christians will fast. He explained that we ought to fast privately, to seek the invisible God-our Father.
Most people don't know God. Frankly, they are not even acquainted with God, but I hope that many of you are, or will be. You can come to know God if you truly walk with Him, do what He says and obey Him-that's the key. Will you do what God says? Or will you reason around the clear teachings of Jesus? I hope all of you really want to follow Jesus, not just as your Savior, but as your Lord and your Master. Jesus said so many times, in so many different ways, as He said in Luke 6:46: "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" We want to remember that. Lord means "boss." Lord means "master."
Now notice Jesus' teaching on financial responsibility. Remember that this is the teaching of the one who died for you, the Savior of the world-the Son of God.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal."
Many men and women today are multi-multimillionaires-we have about seven million people in the United States living in millionaire families-that's a lot of folks. What can you do if you have several million dollars? Most of us could never spend it in a normal lifetime. But the "game of Monopoly" goes on and on; people strive to get more and more. Jesus said that this should not be our goal at all. He shows that you have an obligation to God-your Creator-who gives you everything that you have. He gives the very breath you breathe and the very brain with which you think-the brain with which most people reason around what God says and avoid honoring God in any way, and certainly not in a financial way.
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys [you see, where nothing can happen like that]…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
That is a very important concept. Back in 2 Corinthians 9:6, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "But this I say: 'He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.'" If your heartis in serving God and helping and building the very Work of God on earth today, and in getting out this Gospel of the Kingdom of God, you will want to give generously, you will want to give bountifully, as an act of worship-as an act of thanks. And God can open your mind so you will see the principle of tithing-that you owe God one tenth of your income, and that you are not "doing a favor" to God by giving. Rather, the tithe is the "rent" you are paying Him for your life, your breath and the use of His earth.-His earth, His water, His food, His air-everything you have. And God tells you to be generous.
II Cor. 9:7
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
That is the attitude He loves-one who gives cheerfully, one who gives generously. Jesus showed the attitude of heart that He wants. Where your treasure is, there will be your heart; your whole attitude will be toward serving God and honoring Him with your increase.
"The lamp of the body is the eye."
The "lamp"-that is, the "outlook"-that's what you see, that's where you have your vision, that's where you have your attention. Where is your attention? What is the most important thing? What thoughts dominate your mind? This is what Jesus is talking about.
"If therefore your eye is good, [if your attitude is good-if your attention is focused upon the Kingdom of God SERVING God and your fellow man] then your whole body will be full of light But if your eye is bad [or evil, as the King James has it], your whole body will be full of darkness."
If you are double-minded-if you are thinking all the time about physical things and not really concentrating on the things of God-then of course your body will be full of darkness.
"If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters."
You just can't do it. Most people try to do it, in a sense, if they are religious. They may give God a little bit of time Sunday morning (or some other time), and maybe some brief prayers.
I remember growing up and working on a farm up in northern Kansas for one summer. I was very grateful for the opportunity to be in the outdoors and to learn about farming and the wholesome life. The man I worked with was a very good man, and I don't want to dishonor him-I appreciated his wholesomeness. Yet he was in a mainstream denomination and had, contrary to what we just saw on the Sermon on the Mount, memorized a prayer. Every day he would bow his head and would say an "Our Father…" The words came over and over, with no thought, no emotion, no personal expression-just this memorized prayer-like a robot. The minute he finished saying it and said "Amen," his wife would jump up as if to say "Well, we've got rid of that" and would start talking, back to the "real world" again. You see, they gave God a little bit of attention, but they didn't really know God. They did not understand God. God was not real to those people-no way! You have to have God in your life, and you need to walk with God and have Him as the main thing in your life-not a peripheral interest, but the main interest.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
"Mammon" means money, but in the larger sense it means material things. You can't serve God and say: 'I am serving you, Father" while all the time thinking about buying a bigger TV set, another car, another this, another that, getting more money and living in this material world. That is not the way a Christian thinks! Most of us, especially in the United States, have not learned that, but I hope many of us can begin to understand it.
Back in Colossians 3:5, the Apostle Paul instructs us: "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." That's right: "Covetousness, which is idolatry." Many men and women today have been playing the stock market, they get in and out all day long. They buy a stock and just hours later sell it-they count it up just like a Monopoly game. It is not wrong to have some investments in a bank or CDs or even in the stock market, to invest in the economy in a general way. But we ought not to be "playing" it, or using it in such a way that your mind is on it all the time. You cannot serve God andmammon. You can't let yourself be double-minded-you can't be focused on the world and at the same time put the Kingdom of God first. Jesus warns us about that. Covetousness is idolatry! That money, that physical interest becomes your god. What are the thoughts that dominate your mind? Are those thoughts mainly about the Kingdom of God-about the ways of God, the Laws of God, how you can make it into God's Kingdom and how you can have Jesus Christ living His life within you? Or are your thoughts all day long about getting ahead in this world, making more money or other physical things? You cannot serve two masters!
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.
Don't worry about having the latest style and the latest car, the latest this and the latest that. That is not the attitude of a Christian, my friends.
"Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air."
This passage goes on to describe how God takes care of them and how He takes care of the lilies, and that they are absolutely beautiful with His care.
"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
If God takes care of the birds and even two sparrows can not fall to the earth without God knowing it, God CERTAINLY knows all about you. He certainlyknows about your needs. He knows in detail, so, don't worry about those things.
"…will He not much more clothe you…"
How much more will the great God, if He is your Father and you are serving Him, be totally aware of your needs? He will take care of you!
"Therefore do not worry."
It's not wrong to work, to do the best in your job and to realize that God does command also, in one of the Ten Commandments, six days shall you work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. Part of that Sabbath command is "six days" you shall work! You have six days for your interests-for your work and your productivity. So we need to think about that part of the command. You are to do your part, but not worry about it-not have your mind on money or material things. Don't worry or be anxious about it.
"…'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek…"
People in the world think about those things; people who don't really know the God of the Bible, the God of Creation, the God of Jesus Christ. Their minds are on those things. That's all they can talk about; that's all they know.
"For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first [notice this-not second or third or fourth, but seek FIRST, above everything else there is] the kingdom of God [God's Government, God's Law-because God's Government is based upon His Law, the Ten Commandments, the great spiritual Law of God] and His righteousness."
It is interesting, of course, that God tells us His righteousness is the Commandments. Back in Psalm 119:172, God inspired King David to write: "For all Your commandments are righteousness." The Commandments tell us how to love God and how to love our fellow man.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
What you should eat and drink and what you should wear God will give you, and will give you plenty and often, if you really serve Him. And in a prosperous society, He may give you more than plenty. There will be other times when you may have to do without, just like the Apostle Paul. He said "I know how to be abased and I know how to abound, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The Apostle Paul said that in the book of Philippians. And you can, too. But basically He will bless you if you serve Him-there is no question about it.
"Therefore do not worry [or have anxious thought, have your mind on it all the time] about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
You will have enough trouble today without worrying about tomorrow-wondering what you are going to eat, what you are going to wear, what you are going to do-trying to save so much money for the future and having your mind on that. God tells you to do good, be generous, put your treasure in heaven, lay up treasure in heaven, do your part toward the Kingdom of God. Serve others and serve your God, and God will take care of you. And above all, seek ye first-above everything else-the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And then all these material things will be added to you. But above all, and beyond that, you will have a place in God's family in the coming Kingdom of God to be set up on this earth. It's real-it's just ahead! So let's do our part. Let's get ready.
That's it for today. We will continue right on through the book of Matthew and this wonderful Sermon on the Mount.
This is Roderick C. Meredith speaking for the Living Church of God.