MATTHEW 6:19-34 THE KING GIVES COMMANDS AS TO THE CARES OF THIS LIFE
He would not have his servants seeking two objects, and serving two masters. He calls them away from anxieties about this life to a restful faith in God
19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.
Lay not out your life for gathering wealth: this would be degrading to you as servants of the heavenly kingdom. It you accumulate either money or raiment, your treasures will be liable to “moth and rust ”; and of both you may be deprived by dishonest men. That earthly things decay, or are taken from us, is an excellent reason for not making them the great objects of our pursuit. Hoard not for thieves, gather not for corruption: accumulate for eternity, and send your treasures into the land whither you are going. To live for the sake of growing rich is a gilded death in life.
20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through or steal.
Let our desires and efforts go after heavenly things. These are not liable to any decay within themselves, nor can they be taken from us by force or fraud. Does not wisdom bid us seek such sure possessions? Out of our earthly possessions that which is used for God is laid up in heaven. What is given to the poor and to the Lord’s cause is deposited in the Bank of Eternity. To heaven we are going; let us send our treasures before us.
There they will be safe from decay, and robbery: but in no other place may we reckon them to be secure.
Lord, let me be rich towards thee. I had better send on to my treasury in heaven more of my substance than I have already sent. I will at once remember the Church and its Missions, orphans, aged saints, and poor brethren: these are thy treasury boxes, and I will bank my money there.
21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
This is a grand moral motive for keeping our desires above groveling objects. The heart must and will go in the direction of that which we count precious. The whole man will be transformed into the likeness of that for which he lives. Where we place our treasures our thoughts will naturally fly It will be wise to let all that we have act as magnets to draw us in the right direction. If our very best things are in heaven, our very best thoughts will fly in the same direction: but if our choicest possessions are of the earth, our heart will be earth-bound.
22, 23. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.
The motive is the eye of the soul, and if it be clear, the whole character will be right; but if it be polluted, our whole being will become defiled. The eye of the understanding may also be here understood: if a man does not see things in a right light, he may live in sin and yet fancy that he is doing his duty. A man should live up to his light; but if that light is itself darkness, what a mistake his whole course will be! If our religion leads us to sin, it is worse than irreligion. If our faith is presumption, our zeal selfishness, our prayer formality, our hope a delusion, our experience infatuation, the darkness is so great that even our Lord holds up his hands in astonishment and says — “How great is that darkness! “ Oh, for a single eye to God’s glory, a sincere consecration unto the Lord This alone can fill my soul with light.
24. No man can serve two masters: for either be will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Here our King forbids division of aim in life. We cannot have two master passions: if we could, it would be impossible to serve both; their interests would soon come into conflict, and we should be forced to choose between them. God and the world will never agree, and however much we may attempt it, we shall never be able to serve both. Our danger is that in trying to gain money, or in the pursuit of any other object, we should put it out of its place, and allow it to get the mastery of our mind. Gain and godliness cannot both be masters of our souls: we can serve two, but not “two masters. ” You can live for this world, or live for the next; but to live equally for both is impossible. Where God reigns, the lust of gain must go.
Oh, to be so decided, that we may pursue one thing only! We would hate evil and love God, despise falsehood and hold to truth! We need to know how we are affected both to righteousness and sin; and when this is ascertained to our comfort, we must stand to the right with uncompromising firmness. Mammon is the direct opposite of God as much today as in past ages, and we must loathe its greed, its selfishness, its oppression, its pride; or we do not love God.
25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment.’ “Therefore, ” in order that our one Master may be served, we must cease from serving self, and from the carking care which self-seeking involves.
Read the passage, “Be not anxious for your life. ” Thought we may take; but anxious, carking care we must not know. Our most pressing bodily wants are not to engross our minds. Our life is more important than the food we eat, or the clothes we wear. God who gives us life will give us bread and raiment. We should much more care how we live than how we eat: the spiritual should go before the bodily, the eternal before the temporal. What we wear is of very small importance compared with what we are. Therefore let us give our chief care to that which is chief, yea, our sole thought to the one all-absorbing object of all true life, the glory of God.
26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
The birds are fed by God; will he not feed us? They are free from the fret which comes of hoarding and trading; why should not we be? If God feeds the fowls of the air without sowing, or reaping, or storing, surely he will supply us when we trustfully use these means. For us to rely upon these means and forget our God would be folly indeed. Our King would have his subjects give their hearts to his love and service, and not worry themselves with groveling anxieties. It is well for us that we have these daily wants, because they lead us to our heavenly Father; but if we grow anxious, they are turned from their design and made into barriers to shut us out from the Lord. Oh, that we would be as good as the birds in trustfulness, since in dignity of nature we are so “much better than they ”!
27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
It is a small matter whether we are tall or short; and yet all the worry in the world could not make us an inch taller. Why, then, do we give way to care about things which we cannot alter? If fretting were of any use it would have some excuse; but as it does no good, let us cease from it.
28, 29. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin : and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Clothes must not be made much of; for in our finest array, flowers far excel us. We must not be anxious about how we shall be clad; for the field lilies, not under the gardener’s care, are as glorious as the most pompous of monarchs; and yet they enjoy life free from labor and thought. Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness! The array of lilies comes without fret: why do we kill ourselves with care about that which God gives to plants which cannot care?
My Lord, I would grow to thy praise as the lily cloth, and be content to be what thou cost make me, and wear what thou cost give me.
30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith It is not merely that lilies grow, but that God himself clothes them with surpassing beauty, These lilies, when growing, appear only as the grass, commonplace enough; but Solomon could not excel them when God has put them in their full array of cloth of gold. Will he not be sure to take care of us, who are precious in his sight? Why should we be so little trustful as to have a doubt upon that point? If that which is so very short lived is yet so bedecked of the Lord, depend upon it, he will guard immortal minds, and even the mortal bodies with which they are associated. “Little faith ” is not a little fault; for it greatly wrongs the Lord, and sadly grieves the fretful mind. To think the Lord who clothes lilies will leave his own children naked is shameful. O little faith, learn better manners!
31. Therefore take no thought, saying , What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? “Be not anxious ” is the right interpretation. Think, that you may not have to be anxious. Do not for ever be following the worlds Trinity of cares.
The questions in this verse are taken out of the worldlings’ catechism of distrust. The children of God may quietly work on from day to day, and cast all foreboding cares from them;
32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
We are to excel those who are aliens and foreigners: things which “Gentiles seek ” are not good enough for the Israel of God. The men of the world seek after earthly things, and have no mind for anything beyond: we have a heavenly Father, and therefore we have higher aims and aspirations.
Moreover, as our Father knows all about our necessities, we need not be anxious; for he is quite sure to supply all our needs. Let the Gentiles hunt after their many carnal objects; but let the children of the Lord leave their temporal wants with the Lord of infinite grace, and then let them follow after the one thing needful.
Lord, enable me to be a non-anxious one. May I be so eager after heavenly things, that I altogether leave my earthly cares with thee!
33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Seek God first, and the rest will follow in due course. As for “all these things ”, you will not need to seek them; they will be thrown in as a matter of course. God who gives you heaven will not deny you your bread on the road thither. The kingdom of God, and the righteousness suitable to that kingdom—seek these first and foremost, and then all that you can possibly need shall be your portion. To promote the reign of Christ, and to practice righteousness, are but one object; and may that be the one aim of our lives!
Let us spend life on the one thing, and it will be well spent: as for the twenty secondary objects, they also will be ours if we pursue the one thing only.
34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the clay is the evil thereof.
Understand the former verses as the argument to this “therefore. ” Anxiety cannot help you (verse 27); it is quite useless, it would degrade you to the level of the heathen (verse 32); and there is no need for it (verse 33) — therefore do not forestall sorrow by being anxious as to the future. Our business is with today: we are only to ask breed day by day, and that only in sufficient abundance for the day’s consumption. To import the possible sorrows of tomorrow into the thoughts of today is a superfluity of unbelief.
When the morrow brings sorrow, it will bring strength for that sorrow.
Today will require all the vigor we have to deal with its immediate evils; there can be no need to import cares from the future. To load today with trials not yet arrived, would be to overload it. Anxiety is evil, but anxiety about things which have not yet happened is altogether without excuse. “Cast foreboding cares away, God provideth for today.” O my heart, what rest there is for thee if thou wilt give thyself up to thy Lord, and leave all thine own concerns with him! Mind thou thy Lord’s business, and he will see to thy business.