“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
(Matthew 6:19-24 NIV)
Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount, focusing in Matthew chapter 6 on practical examples of righteous living. Jesus begins by warning His disciples against hypocrisy in the regular practices of giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. These practices were all personal expressions of righteousness.
Jesus now turns to the next subject of righteous living, a subject extremely personal to everyone listening.
The subject? Money.
Jesus uses three analogies to talk about money: heart, eye, master.
It’s easy to understand the first and last analogies, but the middle one is often misunderstood, or not seemingly connected to the others. But in fact, all three are connected very wisely and succinctly.
In the first analogy, Jesus talks about our treasure – where we store our valuables. Jesus said that we are to be careful about what we collect, and where we store what we collect. Anything collected and stored here on this earth is temporary, and can be lost in a heartbeat. Food can become sparse, clothing can be eaten by insects, and physical things (including money) can be stolen or lost. Jesus summarizes it this way: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (v. 21)
Jesus’ second analogy is a little more challenging to understand. To get to the root of this analogy, and thus decipher its truth, we must learn a bit about Jewish culture.
First, Jesus talked about the “eye”. This is not the physical eye in our body, and He was not talking about a one-eyed person. Jesus was referring to the “eye” as the window to our mind, to understand what is going on in our heads.
Next, Jesus talked about “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” eyes. Again, this is not about our physical sight, but an analogy commonly understood in Jesus’ culture.
“Healthy” eyes indicated generosity. In the Jewish mindset, to see a need and have the ability to meet that need required action. Conversely, “unhealthy” eyes indicated the opposite of generosity, which would be stinginess, giving to others grudgingly, or not sharing at all (greed/selfishness).
Two Proverbs help provide clarity to this idea of an “unhealthy” eye:
Proverbs 23:6 talks about stinginess
Proverbs 28:22 talks about selfishness and greed
So Jesus concludes in verses verses 22 and 23 that our mindset on the use of money can be blinding, and shut out God’s expression of righteousness in our whole life. Indeed, “…how great is that darkness!” (v. 23).
Finally, Jesus uses the master/slave relationship as His third and final analogy. But unlike a typical master/slave relationship, Jesus says we get to choose our master, and whom we serve – God or money.
So let’s tie these three analogies together:
Our use of Money
reveals our Mindset
which indicates the Master whom we serve.
Hmmm… time to re-visit the family budget… what does my checkbook tell me about my mindset and my Master?