3_2 Is there any greater power in this world than money?
Matt. 6:19-21 “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.
Treasure, wealth stored, is security against an uncertain future. The treasure we can store in this world is well known: riches, money, things we acquire. But what treasure is Jesus talking about that we can store in Heaven?
Matt. 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, (or single or good) your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, (or evil) your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Jesus is referring here directly to Proverbs 22:9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. A good eye is a generous eye. It means that when I see a need, I am moved with compassion and do something about it. What’s interesting is that Jesus is expanding on the consequences of that Proverb. Most of us navigate this world with our eyes. With our eyes we see where we want to go and then we go that way. With our eyes we see something we like and we want it. Our eyes provide the input for our mind to make the appropriate choice. How do we see the world around us? Is it there to provide us with comfort and pleasure? Is that always the way we are looking at it? Or can we look at the world instead as a place of opportunity, opportunity to do good?
The way I look at the world determines the choices I make. And notice this recurring theme – that was there too in Isaiah 58 – one of the key good things I am here to do is help other people using what I have been given in this world. It’s paradoxical:
The treasure I amass in this world consists of things I acquire.
The treasure I accumulate in Heaven is based on the things I give away.
Money is power, yes. But when I choose to accumulate it for myself, it becomes my master. It takes power over me. When I choose to use it for the good of others, it no longer has power over me. I can then serve another master:
Matt. 6:24 “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.
Power is security
Isn’t one of the reasons we try to save money to plan for the future? But the future is a funny thing… Again, we get to one of those touchy points that highlight the utter reality of the fundamental choice Jesus put before us. Remember how His whole mission started: Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. That is the fundamental choice we are faced with: Do we believe there is a Kingdom of God that we can chose to live for and live in, or is this world we are living in the only reality? Without making this distinction nothing else Jesus says can make any sense. Furthermore, I really cannot make any of the other choices he sets before me without first choosing to believe that the Kingdom is real.
Matt. 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Wow! Am I glad he waited until this point to spring that one on me. This is the proverbial place where the rubber meets the road. Do you work hard? Do you work long hours to provide for your family? Do you worry about tomorrow? What about what life will be like, ten years from now?
We all worry. Why? Because none of us knows the future. And if we are honest, all of us will acknowledge that this world is a hard place. Our health is not guaranteed. Our job is not guaranteed. So many things can go wrong. And then what will happen to those I love?
What is the fundamental question here? Can all the money I have accumulated in this world save me from a disaster? A fire roaring through a neighborhood, a tornado touching down, a hurricane breaking down the levees? What about cancer? What about a senseless traffic accident?
How much power do I really have in this world?
But, if the Kingdom is real, if I really have a Heavenly Father that loves me and that already knows everything I need, does it matter what happens in this world? This is a question we can only seriously ask if we believe there is such a Kingdom. Does it matter what happens in this world? Notice that Jesus at no point has promised that disasters will not hit us. What He has promised is that God is more than able (and willing) to provide us with what we need to live out our mission in this world. Therefore, we have a choice to make. We can choose not to worry.
How do we persevere in that choice, what action do we take? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. That is what we are called to do. Yes, Jesus has been telling us about that Kingdom and the actions it requires of us if we choose it. But this journey is a lifelong journey. And we need a daily revelation of that Kingdom and the righteousness it desires of us. We can only have that revelation if this is a relationship, a living relationship between me and my Father who loves me.
Oh, give me this day my needful bread… Yes, the bread that I need to live in this world but much more important than that, the Bread of Eternal Life, every day.