Good morning!! An example here of how we perceive the sermon on the mount to be disconnected sayings just thrown together, when in reality the whole sermon is a single, unified talk in which one idea builds upon the other. Jesus begins with the beatitudes, with listing all those the world had written off who would be blessed in the kingdom of God. We are then described as salt and light of the world, which we will be if we put off our old selves and through faith in Him follow Jesus in our lives. He then goes on to describe that he is not about to overturn the law and the prophets, but he is about to give a teaching that, if followed, would lead a person to live as all the law and the prophets intended, thereby fulfilling all that had been written in scripture to that point.
He then gets into behavior, and one point builds on another. For example, unless you’ve dealt with anger and malice and envy in your heart, then talking about loving, forgiving and praying for your enemies is a wasted point. If you’re an angry, spiteful, jealous type of person, how can you be asked to forgive anyone their trespasses and sins against you? You’re still at the point plotting revenge, holding grudges and getting even. It’s only after you get anger and envy under control that you can then begin to be the type of person who might bring mercy and forgiveness into the world.
So it is with Jesus’ teaching on our treasures. We see Jesus teaching on laying up treasures in heaven and not in earth, and can understand why it’s such a waste to be living for the acquisition of things which begin to deteriorate the minute we buy them, and/or the accumulation of money which we could then use to buy our things. We basically know that we will continue to do all we can to pile up our money and buy our things anyway because that’s how our American liturgy has formed us – we are formed from birth to be consuming consumers, coveting every hot new toy, shiny new car, big new house, and smiling pretty face our eyes come across. But at least we can understand the concept.
So Jesus teaches on our treasures, telling us not to waste time in things that will rust away. He tells us then to lay up our treasures in heaven instead, where moths nor rust nor thieves in the night could never take it away from us. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 ESV.
Jesus next seemingly jumps into a completely different teaching – The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! He goes from teaching on our treasures into this teaching about the eye being the lamp of the body, a completely separate, disjointed teaching which has nothing to do with what had come before it. Except that Jesus is teaching exactly the same thing. These are not two separate teachings, but just an expansion of one upon the other.
The eye is connected to the heart. So we can read these scriptures together, just as they are in the text. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! The heart, again, is our will and spirit. It is the center of our soul from which our whole beings flow. If our heart is directed correctly, then our lives, personality, and character will follow.
Jesus next solidifies this truth, makes it more concrete. As Dallas Willard puts it, he compares our “heartsight” to our eyesight. Think about how our eyesight affects and enables how we relate to the world around us. The eye is the lamp of the body. If our eyes work well, we can easily move around whatever environment we find ourselves in. After all, we can see the obstacles before us, your whole body will be full of light. The world is illuminated before us.
If our hearts treasure what is eternal, that which lies within the kingdom of God, we see everything for its true worth and proper relationship. If we treasure what is “on earth,” then we have a distorted view of things and are generally misled in our lives. The relative importance of things, and their relationship to one another and ourselves is out of whack. Think about the person who is addicted, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, whatever their “drug of choice” happens to be. The object of their desire is the center of the life, their “eye” sees everything in relation to their addiction and the fulfillment and enjoyment of it. Their own body and soul, everything in their life, even their very life itself, becomes secondary to feeding the addiction.
The addict is an extreme example, but it gives a clear example of what is meant when Jesus says but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. He expands this very quickly – If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! If the light in you -the eye of your soul – is not working, then you (I) are in the dark about everything. You know neither where you are nor where you are going. This is what it means to be a lost soul.
Then, of course, cones the big finish to this particular point on the things we treasure. “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.” Is your treasure in your bank account, in your driveway, on your big screen, or maybe a smaller screen so you can be more “discreet”? Is everything just as ok as your 401(k)? If I lose my job tomorrow, will I have the same hope I have today?
We will serve our treasures. We work hard for them all day and dream about them all night. We think we can treasure both the things of this world and God’s Kingdom. We try, try, try to make it work, but there always comes time to make a choice. We can’t have two competing ultimate goals for our lives.
We can not serve both God and the things of this earth. Their requirements compete and conflict with each other. Unless God is already the focal point, then what financial security demands will ultimately lead to conflict with Gods kingdom. This is why we have the first commandment – “”You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 ESV.
Remember what the chief priests and the scribes said to Pilate leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion? “They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”” John 19:15 ESV. They had no king but Caesar, the truth came out. They proclaimed their true allegiance to the king of this world. 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. So they crucified the one true king. Their eyes were dark, therefore their souls were in the dark, they could not see when the light was right before them.
How is your “heartsight?” Is your lamp on or off?
“”The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “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 6:22-24 ESV