Today’s Reading: Matthew 6
(Context: The Sermon on the Mount continues, as Jesus’ teaching continues to amaze them. The topic in this chapter speaks about the love of self, money, and of this world in general.)
Jesus was radical — His teaching was new, fresh, and surprising. He was polarizing, whereas people either loved Him with total affection and devotion, or hated Him with everything they had.
I think we miss this now a days, at least I do, to a certain degree. When I read the Gospels it all comes back to me as some far-off dream, because I have read the Gospels so many times, heard so many sermons on this magnificent figure, and also preached so many times on it. Passages such as Matthew 6 can seem monotonous and even normal.
When I read this passage this morning, I wanted to try and hear the words of Jesus as if it was the first time. I always attempt to do this, but sometimes it is more effective than others. This morning I was shocked by Jesus’ great insight into life, His knowledge of the future world, and His harshness with hypocritical and farcical people (namely the Pharisees, of course).
The main message in this passage, is about the love of self, money, and this world. Sounds familiar? A message so ancient and even somewhat cryptic to us today, is for today. It’s for America, today. It’s for Europe, today. Its for South America, today. It’s for Africa, for Asia, for Oceania!
The question is: Are we even listening? Let us listen for a moment. Let us imagine ourselves sitting under the shade of a tree, looking at the face of our Savior, teaching the masses on a hillside. Let the words reside in us, and call us to change:
1. Beware of the love of self and hypocrisy:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:5-7)
2. Beware of the love of money:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
3. Beware of loving this world:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Listen, and obey. As Christians we must take to the task of seriously questioning what and who we live for. This world is about the collective mass of “I” and “me”. About “my money”, “my things”, and “my life”.
Listen to Jesus’ call. He wants to know: Do you believe in a future and better world?
That is the central message. Money matters, if this life is all there is. Fame matters, if man’s vote truly counted. This world would ultimately matter, if a future one didn’t exist.
Jesus shattered these ideas, because this life is not the end, because God’s view of us is paramount, and because greater things await those who live and suffer for His name.
All this comes down to one word: Faith. World, do you truly believe that there is an end to this world? Christian, do you truly believe that there is a God waiting to honor us? Chris, do you truly believe that there is a future world?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)