I am preparing to teach this to my staff tomorrow and I would like to think through the process here as well as share some of my insights with you. God’s Word is so practical and the person who claims that It is not practical, I would argue, has never actually read what is there. Instead, the person probably just repeated what he or she heard from another person about the Bible. It has been such a pleasure to dig into God’s Word together as a staff and see how God speaks to us directly about all of life’s specific situations. Last week we covered giving and fasting according to the righteousness of God. All who were there were greatly blessed and challenged to evaluate our motives.
God created us to be followers. We will all serve one master or another in this life. There is no masterless person on the earth. If we choose not to serve God and allow Him to be our Master, the void will be filled. In Romans 7, we see that sin is our master if God is not. When sin is our master, it is manifested in many, many different ways. Jesus chooses to use three examples of how having sin as your master is manifested on a daily basis. Your master will be seen by your attitude toward possessions, worry, and others. Jesus clearly teaches that a person cannot serve two masters. We will either serve the Lord or sin. He then goes on to give examples of what it looks like to serve God and what it looks like to serve sin.
Let’s take a look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6.
I. Your attitude toward treasures
If you are a servant of sin, this will be manifested in your views on treasures (possessions). Where are you storing up your treasures? Are they here on earth? Why do you store up treasures? Is it to have more than everyone else or, are you using those possessions to serve the Lord? A person who is mastered by sin sees his goal in life to store up treasures for the here and now because as the saying goes, “you cannot take any of it with you”. As a saying it is true but in the context of stuff, the goal is not to have as much as you can so that you can be happy. These possessions, in themselves, never will make you completely happy. People have been trying since the fall of mankind in sin to make themselves happy with possessions. No one has yet to succeed. The Bible does speak of those who live for the here and now because they do not know that God has created us for eternity. When Paul was speaking to believers who were being influenced by the false notion that there is no resurrection, he wrote the following:
32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. (I Corinthians 15)
He actually quotes from the Old Testament when writing this.
13 Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, Eating of meat and drinking of wine : “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.” (Isaiah 22)
God has some harsh words for His people because, instead of weeping and mourning over their wicked ways, they are so caught up with the here and now that they forget that there is more to life than just living in luxury and then dying. Do you see your possessions as something to be used for the here and now or do you feel that God has blessed you with possessions so that you can use those treasures to further His kingdom and store up your true treasures there? A person who has God for a Master, views possessions, not as treasures to be used and enjoyed for the here and now. Instead, he sees those possessions as tools to be used to invest in treasures in heaven. Investing your treasures in the people around you, so that you can teach them the Word of God and how to walk with God is what a man who has God as his Master does. The modern motto of the Western world is, “whoever dies with the most toys wins.” God’s motto is “I’ve given you these things because you need them and I want you to use them for yourself and to invest yourself in others so that they too can join you in the kingdom if heaven”. Which motto are you living by? Who is the main benefactor of your possessions, you or the people around you? This is tough to wrestle with because it is so contrary to our modern mindset. It was counter culture during Jesus’ time too because people were sin’s servants just like we are today. A good evaluation would be your eyes. What are they drawn to and why? Why do you want the things that you see, for yourself (that is what modern advertisement is based on) or so that you can use those for the kingdom of heaven. Are your eyes attracted to a bigger home? Why? So that others will be jealous of what you have or do you see that home as a place where the Word of God will be taught, a training ground for disciple making? Again, Jesus takes us back to our motives, why do we do the things that we do and why do we want the things that we want.
II. Your attitude toward worry
If you are storing up treasures in the wrong place then your heart will be so attached to those treasures that you will constantly worry. You will be so consumed by protecting your stuff from thieves and destruction that you really will not be able to enjoy those possessions. You will be driven to wake up every mooring and go to work so that you can acquire more stuff, a bigger house, a newer car, more gadgets and toys and on and on. You will live for food to eat and water to drink, to put clothes on your back and to have a place to sleep. These are all things that you and I need but we cannot be controlled by them. If we just live to eat, drink, and be merry, what makes us any different than the animals? God created us for so much more but when He is not your Master, you do not seek His ways and therefore seek the ways of the pagans (people who do not know God). In fact, I believe that this is one reason that the satanic theory of evolution is so popular, because it does teach eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. It does teach that we are no different than the animals around us who just want food, water, and shelter and nothing more.
On the other hand, when God is your Master, you understand that He knows that you need food, water, and shelter because He created you that way. Not only does He know that you need all of these things but He also wants to provide them for you. He wants you to live for Him, for His kingdom, to store up treasures there while on this earth. He wants you to invest in the lives of the people around you, teaching them His Word and teaching them how to walk with Him on a daily basis. When a person has God as his Master, this is why he gets out of bed every morning, not to worry about what he will eat, drink, and wear, instead, he sees his job and the possessions that he has to be used to invest in the lives of the people around him. Is this what you are doing with your life? Or, do you claim to be a follower of Christ yet you live day by day to fill your stomach with food and water and to have clothes to put on your body? If the latter is the case, what makes you any different than the pagans who do not know God? Are you using every single day as an opportunity to invest in others, making disciples for the kingdom of heaven? Are you a worrier? Why? Does God want you to be a worrier? Your attitude towards possessions and your motivation to get our of bed every morning lead to the next point, your view of people. You view people differently, depending on whom you master is; sin or God.
III. Your attitude toward others
The next topic actually carries over to chapter 7 of Matthew. This section contains one of the most misquoted verses in the entire Bible. I bet I can start it here and you can finish it, “Do not judge . . . .”
Here is the actual quote from Matthew 7:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
Now, putting this in context, this verse does not mean that we cannot make a judgment about what is right or what is wrong. It also does not mean that we cannot call a person out for sinning. In fact, in Matthew 5, Jesus teaches us to confront others when they sin, not with the purpose of tearing them down, instead, with the purpose of reconciling with them and building them up. Most people quote the verse to say that no one can say what another person does is good or bad. Jesus is very clear on when we judge correctly and incorrectly. In fact, if God is your Master, you will judge correctly, the way that God wants us to judge. If sin is your master, then you will judge others incorrectly, tearing them down in order to build your own self up. Also, you will judge others for the very things that you do in secret or things that you think you have hidden from everyone else, yet they are as evident as a log in your eye. Once again, Jesus takes us back to the question of our motives. Why do you point out the speck in your brother’s eye, to help him or to show that you are better than he is? Do you examine your own life before pointing out the sins of others? Are you doing what you do to build up or tear down? Are you doing it to be helpful or hurtful? Do you avoid confronting sin? Avoiding confronting sin is no different than being hypocritical when it comes to sin. Do you excuse yourself with pat phrases like “do not judge” and “he who is without sin, cast the first stone“? Both are these are distortions of what the Word of God actually teaches. God wants us to discern good from evil and confront evil (sin). In the context of “he who is without sin”, all of the men present there were guilty of either lying directly or being partial when it came to righteous judgment. They were all wrong and none of them could cast a stone. This is not a doctrine that teaches we cannot confront sin because we are all sinners. If God is your Master, you view people the way that He does. You are not indifferent to their sins because you know the destruction that sin causes. You want to help them by teaching them God’s Word and showing them how to walk with God on a daily basis. If sin is your master, then you view people the way that sin does, to be used, consumed, and thrown away. Which best describes your view of the people around you?
Jesus gives 3 specific examples of circumstances where you prove who your master is. How did you do on the test? Who is your master? May the Lord help us realize our true need of Him as our Good Shepherd, our Master so that we can live for Him and His kingdom, storing up treasures in heaven by investing in the lives of the people around us.