Think, Act, Be, Day 23- Matthew 6:19-24
The eye is the lamp of the body.
An old Chinese proverb states, “Ninety percent of what we see lies behind our eyes.” We decide in our minds how we see the world; and how we use our possessions affects how we see the world. For instance, look at the treasures that we have. If we use money generously, we see the needs of others and give generously. If we invest in earthly goods, we hoard possessions and worry about tomorrow. Jesus says a person’s vision of life affects how he treats possessions. Living generously opens a window into one’s heart. Obsessing about material things keeps a person in the dark (vs. 22-23). In order to have a vision for healthy priorities, believers should remember two important principles.
God never demands what we are to supply, and God always supplies whatever the need demands.
Modern Christians associate “holiness” and “money” with a word carried over from the Hebrew Bible: tithing. Jesus, however, goes beyond the tithe and points to motives. Believers are stewards of whatever has been entrusted to them. We put God’s priorities first and prepare for the next life accordingly. He tells his disciples to give everything to God because everything they own is God’s anyway.
We could paraphrase Jesus’ words here in this way: “Don’t just look at the minimum you can contribute; give like you have a 401K in heaven; donate money as if you were investing in a guaranteed return on the interest. When you give, don’t wait for the “thank you note” to come from the benefactor. Don’t concentrate on how the benefactor distributes the money. Focus on your faithful responsibilities as God’s people. In doing so, you will live as if the bank is in heaven, where the dividends pay back in full, and the owner matches spiritual blessing-for-dollar in this life and the life to come. Look for ways to give everything to God, because everything is God’s anyway!”
When I lived in Knoxville, Hurricane Katrina flooded the Gulf Coast. I called Dr. Jay Hogewood at University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. They were serving as a distribution point in their area for hurricane relief. We gathered pillows, bed linens, toiletries, towels, and many other items to load in a semi-trailer truck for a fast trip to Baton Rouge in the wake of the disaster. A day before the truck left, the Red Cross activated our church as a disaster shelter. Suddenly, we needed bed linens and towels; we had a difficult decision to make. We had tons of relief supplies to ship to Baton Rouge, but we were facing needs of hurricane victims within our walls. After talking with our church leadership, we decided to live out our faith and trust that we would have enough to take care of evacuees in Knoxville and in Baton Rouge.
We sent the truck full of the things we needed for the evacuees. About ten minutes after the truck left the church, another linen supply truck rolled up. They had heard about the evacuees and were coming by to help. They volunteered to provide free bed linens, pillows, pillowcases, and towels and to wash the items for each person in the shelter.
I assure you that I am not the kind of preacher who says, “Write the check, and God will fill the bank account.” Jesus, however, reminded his disciples that God is in charge of supplying the needs when it comes to kingdom of God issues.
Believers can apply these two principles in their lives because they know that the end is not an event to be feared. They see a heavenly kingdom and know that the end of life is only the beginning of an eternal life with God. Their eyes are opened to a new way of seeing things in this life and the life to come.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[b] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.