(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
How many of us when we were children saw something that our friend or another kid had and said, “I’ve gotta have that”? I know that I did. This behavior probably continued into your teens and well into your early adult years; for some of you, this sentiment probably continues to rear its ugly head from time to time even today. I believe that no matter how dedicated our walk with Christ is, the temptation to want more in the way of material things is something that we all face from time to time. Even when you have the unique perspective of having lost your house, cars, and journeyed through the valley of bankruptcy, material things occasionally become a temptation.
Jesus is addressing this temptation towards materialism in the first part of today’s reading from Matthew 6. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (v.19-20).” Although the temptations and materials that people longed to store up were different in the day and time this was first spoken the principle is still the same. Things, and here I mean “stuff”, that we value on this Earth are useless to us when we die and pass into eternal life. If we focus our time and energies on getting more “stuff” then how are we going to devote our lives to Christ and serving His kingdom (which is the real source of eternal reward)? Our hearts will be focused more on the stuff than on our walk with Christ and we face the danger of losing sight of where God wants us and what he wants us to do. In verse 24 this is said perfectly, “No one 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 both God and Money(emphasis mine).”
In the remaining verses of Matthew 6 Jesus continues this same course of thought as He tells us not to worry about our lives and what we will eat or wear. Even though these verses are presented as a caution against worrying, when you look at the effort and money that is expended today on fancy clothing and special food, the connection to the previously discussed verses is clear.
Jesus’ main point in these verses would have to be towards the fact that we have no need to worry about the things of this world, including our clothing and food, because God will provide for us like He does the animals and plants. And Jesus did not die to save animals or plants.
So what is the biggest take away from this portion of Jesus’ sermon? Although the verses are divided in a way in the NIV that would lead you to believe the important points stand alone, I feel that they are more congruous: Do not worry about things or “stuff” or clothing or food because God sees our needs and provides in a way that is just what we need when we need it. When we think we need a fancy car with all of the coolest options, God sees that we need a way to get from point A to point B reliably. When we think we need a steak dinner, God sees that we simply need sustenance. No matter how you look at it God sees all, knows all, and provides all. Does this mean that we can be lazy and sit back thinking that what we need will magically appear in our closets or refrigerators? NO. Abiding in Christ is an active way of living, even though we know and trust that God will provide we have a responsibility to strive for the things we need in a way that brings glory to God and all that He is.
As you go through the day look at how the “stuff” of the world around you affects your life. Are you living in a way that places more emphasis on the “stuff” around you rather than on your relationship with Christ? Which master are you serving?