As a Christian struggling with anxiety and worry, I cannot tell you how many times people have quoted Matthew 6 to me. Not that I don’t love the Word of God, but after hearing Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 6:25-34 over and over again, it seems more like a spiritual band-aid than as loving.
While reading Matthew 6 today, I realized that Jesus isn’t just talking about anxiety here. He’s talking about money.
The original Bible wasn’t split up into sections like it is today (in fact, Jesus spoke these words, so the original Bible wasn’t even written!), but the Bible is organized the way it is for a reason. In the NIV translation, the following is all one section (Matthew 6:19-24):
“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.”
We should not store up treasure that this life offers, because it will not last. We can know what’s in our hearts based on what we treasure, and based on what we seek.
In the second paragraph of this passage, the word “healthy” can also be translated as “generous” or “single” in Greek, so we must have eyes to see money and wealth the way that God sees them. God is merciful and generous, so we also must be merciful and generous. Instead of holding on to wealth, we should have an open hand, willing to receive and willing to give at any moment.
Finally, we can only serve one master, and if we’re chasing after money, we’re not serving God. In fact, Pastor Robert Morris claims that “money” in this case, often translated as “Mammon,” was a literal figure.
It’s interesting that this passage is right before Matthew 6:25-34, the passage of Scripture that everyone loves to quote to those of us with anxiety.
We have needs, and it is normal to worry about how those needs will be met. Our basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, and security. We are conditioned to worry about where those needs will be met, because in the real world, we have to get our own food, clothing, shelter, and security. Jesus originally shared this with people who had to provide, not only for their families, but also for their communities: fishermen, farmers, clothing designers, carpenters, and the like. Of course they had to worry about where their next meal would come from; it was their job!
However, Jesus tells us not to chase after treasures on earth. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we have; it only matters that we pursued righteousness (Proverbs 11:4). Jesus wasn’t saying that it’s wrong to work or that it’s wrong to have money. He is saying that it’s more important for us to be pursuing righteousness than it is for us to be focusing on our paychecks.
God loves you, and God is in control. As scary as it is to not be in control, it’s so much more comforting to know that God, who has been around longer than any of us, knows what He’s doing. And, as it says in Matthew 6:33, when we put God first, we’ll have His righteousness and we’ll have our needs met.
Who is your master? Trust God with your needs today.
Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash