Series: Matthew: We Need a King

You Now Have to Choose

March 28, 2021 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 6:16-24

Matthew 6:16-24 – You now have to choose

Until last year, if asked, I would say the number one problem with the church could be summarized in a word.  Ambivalence. 

  • Knowing who Jesus is, sitting in a state of ambivalence.
    • Mixed emotions.
    • Contradictory attitudes.
    • Clinical schizophrenia. 
  • Poison extracted by only one simple means. 
  • What calls the bluff of hypocrisy?
      • Declining health. 
  • Preaching to ambivalence is a difficult task. 
  • People caught in their own catch-22’s.

Current pressures are snapping the church out of this dilemma. 

  • We have been monitoring Pastor James Coates.
    • Now been released from prison but will stand trial in May.
    • On April 6, our voter ballots are due to be mailed in.
      • I am less about pushing voting responsibility and more about calling discerning the spiritual stakes.
      • Voting is a privilege and voting our conscience.
      • Political ambivalence is also a thing of the past.
      • Think about voting in terms of whom we will submit to and pray for. 
  • Election, outcomes now might better be framed to answer this question:
    • “What will further gospel opportunities?”
      • We are now not just voting for morality.
      • But for what will heighten gospel causes. 
  • Shaking up ambivalence!

Raised stakes leave no room for ambivalence.  Religious hypocrisy is now a fool’s errand. 

Verses 16-18 assume times of self-deprivation when seeking God. 

  • The temptation is to play the hypocrite.
    • Going without food to bring people with you on your journey.
    • “…they disfigure their faces” can be translated “destroy”.
    • Obvious sadness and gloom “to be seen by others” (v. 16).

Religion is binary between being true or false. 

  • The dividing line is in Jesus’ question, “By whom do you want to be ‘seen’” (v. 16)?
  • People or God?

“Reward” is synonymous with heaven; the assurance of heaven. 

  • Hypocrisy is a “cash in now”.

Verse 17 says seeking God counters pretense, by “anointing the head and washing the face” (cf. v. 17). 

  • A correct motive.
    • You do “not [want] to be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret” (v. 18).
    • Your relationship to God is first, private and secret.

Victim culture applauds those who parade themselves in self-pity, looking pitiable to derive help from others. 

  • A façade to engender affirmation and wrongs those truly in need.
  • This “cash in now” front, damages someone’s heart. 

Following Christ counters this with authentic faith.  

Culture now drives us to choose either fakery or real honesty. 

  • This leads us to this next section, where Jesus is forcing a choice
  • Finishing “hypocrisy” Jesus now says, “You have to choose” (vv. 19-24).
    • Not double mindedness (cf. Jas. 1:8).
    • Making a choice (cf. Jos. 24:15, “Choose you this day whom you will serve?”).

Jesus’ goes straight to the heart, addressing “choosing” in terms of money. 

  • It is no stretch to say, “money affects everything about people.”
  • Possessions, identity, opportunities, and pressures.

Increasing pressures on Christians, breed new temptations to place confidence in wealth, in terms of earning or keeping it. 

  • Important to deal with your heart now.
  • Choosing between God and security. 
Prop: Jesus drives for a singular commitment by drawing three dividing lines.
1. Kingdom or your wealth (vv. 19-21)

Each dividing line is designed to pry loose your grip from the world. 

  • From the world’s wealth and security. 
  • Loosening your grip, opens your eyes to heaven. 
  • Tightening your grip, closes your heart to God.

The verb “lay up” is from the same root as, “treasure” used 5x in three verses (vv. 19, 20, 21). 

  • You can replace “store up” and “a storehouse.”
  • “Do not store up for yourselves a storehouse on earth” (v. 19).
  • Do not compile things as a way of life.

Horror story reality shows reveal “hoarders” with stuff compiled and piled preventing them from getting from their front door to their backdoor.  They carve paths. 

  • Living within massive amounts of clutter as a way of life.
  • In desperate need of intervention just to let certain things go.
  • People come to believe they will need certain things one day, and this day never comes.
  • But, they cannot throw anything away.

In Jesus day, “storing up” wealth in your home was one where people did it.

  • Prior to modern day banking “storing up” was a normal means of security, wise.
    • Still, when this becomes the bedrock means for security for believers, this is wrong.
    • Believers must face the fragility of possessions on earth.
    • Always fraught with risk.

Jesus explains that “moth” and “rust” “destroy[s]” what is here on earth (v. 19). 

  • Living in a sin cursed world means all we own is always in a state of atrophy.
    • Science says as much.
      • The second law of thermodynamics tells us all material things are in a state of entropy.
      • Spontaneous and irreversible devolution. 
  • Science and our Bible tells us this is because of the effects of sin. 
  • Paint chips off the walls, wrinkles and arthritis increases, things wear out. 
  • Someone might be storing their “treasure” for security, from elements, or from enemies or just old age. 
  • Yet the two unstoppable enemies are present: “moths” translated “larva” and “rust” (v. 19).  
  • Both intruders, part of the natural world we live in, pictured as what threatens from the inside.

Our things, just like our lives, will eventually “time out!”  

Also, what assaults from the outside.  “…where thieves break in and steal” (v. 19). 

  • Thieves, literally pictured as “digging through the walls” of ancient mud and rock, homes.
    • When someone wants something badly enough, they will tunnel in for it.
    • People have their web-banks robbed or skimmed 

People spend money on all kinds of things.

  • New cars that lost 20% of value as soon as you drive it off the lot and 65% in five years.
    • People spend massive amounts of money on cosmetics.
    • Self-care is fine to an extent but nothing but the rapture, forestalls the worms eating you up one day.

Remember last year when trucking and shipping might have threatened to close with the pandemic. 

  • Remember how desperate people were over the unknown.
    • “How bad was the virus?”
    • “We washed groceries, sprayed down our bags, and wiped off our shoes.”
  • Shelves, empty, as if living in a warzone.
  • Toilet paper buying limits, water buying limits.
    • No returns based on fear of contamination.
    • Returns were rejected because stores were overbought.

Fear should not be our driver.  

ESV  Luke 12:15-21 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully,17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." 

Verse 20 is where Jesus offers the one place where the second law of thermodynamics does not and will never apply and where thieves can never go, heaven. 

  • The reasonable solution is to put your “treasure” there (v. 20).

“What does that even mean?” 

“Give to the church at a level to put yourself in financial straits?” 

“Living on the edge equals, living by faith?”  

A basic Scripture tells you, money in and of itself is not the problem. 

  • “Loving” money like an idol that is the problem.
    • The issue always comes down to this question:

“Is your money an investment for earth or an investment for heaven?”  

If you earn money you are going to have money. 

  • Scripture commands we “work to earn to eat and provide” (cf. 2 Thes. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:8). 
  • Jesus never condemns currency, render to Caesar, render to God (cf. Matt. 22:22). 
  • There is nevertheless an ensnaring temptation to be ruled by “money-love” ἡ φιλαργυρία (1Ti 6:10 GNT).

ESV  1 Timothy 6:6-11 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 

Godliness is neither measured by how much you have nor by how much you do not have. 

Godliness (likewise) is neither measured by how much you give nor by how much you do not give. 

  • God cares about your loyalties.
    • Is your first loyalty to God or your money?
    • Is your trust in God or is your trust in wealth? 
  • To answer this question, ask whether you are willing to give it all to him.
    • Again, what does this look like?
    • Giving it all to a missionary campaign? Not likely. 

You must start with the fact that God owns everything. 

  • In Malachi 3:8 God says, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me” (Mal. 3:8). 
    • Israel had spiritually defected, not paying their temple tax within a theocracy.
    • God’s temple priests were not being supported. 
  • On a deeper and higher level, God owns everything. 
  • So, you are not adding to the cause by designating more money to church missions or within the church offering. 
  • God is sovereign over everything; he made it all; runs it all; owns it all.

ESV  Psalm 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein

ESV  Psalm 50:7-12 "Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. 8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.12 "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 

Our Lord is driving you to choose a mindset that leads to a lifestyle.  

  • When you invest your money, invest in heaven. 
  • “But I have to feed my family or pay bills to keep a roof over their heads.”

 Yes, and when you buy food or pay bills or buy your family cloths or beautiful things or take them on trips, spend your money as an investment in heaven. 

  • Spend money to win their hearts to Jesus. 
  • This plays into your motivations and your discernment. 

“Have you ever had buyer’s remorse?” 

  • As soon as you buy something, you feel the dread of dissatisfaction.
  • Maybe it did not last, or you somehow immediately lost it. 

The issue probably was not the item, but the motivation for investing your money.  

  • When you put your earned resources toward the betterment of someone else, especially for them to know and love Jesus, then are investing in heaven! 

This is the beauty of verse 21.  

  • Verse 21 summarizes everything

“For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21).  

  • A Greek translation: “Where [for] is the treasure of thee, there will be also the heart thee.” 
  • Jesus drives believers to invest their hearts heavenward. 
  • Not saying for you to not give a regular sacrificial offering to the church.
    • Jesus commands we give.
    • The early church did so with regularity. 
  • Jesus teaches, all of what we own, is a means for investing toward a place that is untouchable. 
  • Doing so, moves hearts (yours and others) heavenward.   

This is simply the sowing and reaping principle in Scripture.  

ESV  2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  

Written in the context of verse 5 where Paul guides the Corinthians to give willingly, “not as an exaction” (v. 5).  

ESV  2 Corinthians 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. 

  • Exaction meaning, “giving to get.”
    • Giving is never meant to be pragmatic.
    • If I give, then I will get.
    • This is not thinking in terms of Kingdom currency. 
  • Kingdom currency is not the world’s currency but God’s promise is provision. 

Kenneth Copeland, prosperity preacher, said “We are passing the offering plate, so your income will boost!”  

  • Think of sowing God’s seed as cause and effect, on the inside.
  • Kingdom giving is heart softening, others, and yours.   

Jesus’ next point builds on the first.  Digging deeper into our motivations, Jesus not only drives believers to invest what they have but also not to hang onto what we do not have!  

2. Kingdom or your wants (vv. 22-23)

Jesus now drives for contentment.

  • The second line in the sand.
  • Letting go of what you wish you had.
  • Giving up what you do not possess.

How does this work? 

  • Jesus speaks of the “eye” as “the lamp of the body” (v. 22).
    • Someone’s eyes are likened to windows of someone’s soul.
    • The clarity of light through a window depends on whether the glass is clean or dirty. 
  • This is especially true when driving right?
    • When mud splashes on the windshield, if the wipers are not full go, you are in trouble.
    • Blades bad, no wiper fluid, no visibility.
    • Smearing makes it treacherous.

Lacking clarity in the window tells what is going on inside of the house. 

  • Light comes through when things are clear and healthy
  • Jesus makes “the eye” literally “the lamp” that makes someone’s “whole body…full of light!” 
  • The immediate context has to do with heart investment, where you invest your heart.

If your “storehouse” is full of greed then “…your eye is bad” and “…your whole body will be full of darkness” (v. 22). 

ESV  Proverbs 23:4-7 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. 5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies,7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 

“a man who is stingy” is literally “an evil eye.”  “Do not eat the bread of a man with an evil eye!”          

  • People who give with strings attached.
  • Enslaving yourself to a credit card scheme.
  • What appears to be a bailout is a trap.
  • These schemes drive for discontentedness.

ESV  Proverbs 28:22 A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him. 

ESV  Deuteronomy 15:9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, 'The seventh year, the year of release is near,' and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin.

  • This refers to “Jubilee” where every seven years, God’s people canceled debts owed by the poor.
  • Caring for the poor with their earnings.

There is the story of a boy who stuck his hand down inside of an expensive vase and could not get it out.  His parent took all kinds of soup and water to lubricate his wrist to set him free.  When they could see no other way to free his hand, they decided they would have to get a hammer and break the vase.  As they swung back the hammer, the little boy cried out that perhaps if he let go of the coin he had inside his fist, he could slip his hand out.

“What is at stake in terms of greed?” 

  • Jesus warns against Hell, “…how great is the darkness!” (v. 23). 
  • Verse 23 builds its point with the phrases:

“full of darkness” “…the light in you is darkness” “how great is the darkness!” 

  • Unrepentant greed sends to Hell. 
  • Jesus draws the line and says you must choose him or your greed! 

On to Jesus’ final choice. 

3. Kingdom or your will (v. 24)       

Jesus makes a clear axiomatic statement: “No one can serve two masters” (v. 24).  

This comes with the same force as what Jesus said when rebuking the Pharisees false accusation that he worked miracles by Satanic power. 

ESV  Mark 3:24-25 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 

This is the dividing line of dividing lines. 

  • The ultimate way for Jesus to say, “You cannot have it both ways in life!” By using, “hate” verses “love” and “devotion” verses “despisement.” 

The master and slave context; understood in terms of Jesus’ day. 

  • The words kurios and doulos picture willing devotion of a slave, serving loving master.
    • A slave having two masters would be an impossibility, especially in terms of devotion.
      • Total devotion to one master and total devotion to another master at the same time.
      • You cannot be total and split in half at the same time.   
  • Logically impossible. 
  • Not only is this impossible in terms of logic, but practically impossible.
    • Attempting this leads to the neglect of one over the other.
    • This leads to making hard and destructive choices.
    • Loving both means you will hate the other (or be perceived this way).
    • Devotion to both means despising one.

When a husband or wife does not truly leave and cleave from his or her parents, creates this same dilemma.    

  • Half devotion to a parent, while maintaining half devotion to a spouse drives toward a hard choice risking both relationships. 
  • Jesus calls for full commitment in the choice with the words: “You cannot serve God and money” (v. 24).

You have heard “money” interpreted “mammon,” the Jewish term for money or possessions. 

  • The Pharisees emphatically disagreed with Jesus!

ESV  Luke 16:13-15 No servant 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." 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.15 And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. 

  • They were self-condemned by self-exaltation. 
  • But God owns it all! All wealth, all wants, and all our wills.  
  • Acknowledge this reality before your time on earth is through. 

You cannot serve two masters.  

  • Worshipping the money as security, means you are making worship choices. 
  • Raising money up, is bringing God down. 

The children of Israel did this; making the golden calf and naming it Yahwey: 

ESV  Exodus 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'"

 When the Philistines put the “ark of God” on par with their idols, God made it clear that this was not compatible.    

ESV  1 Samuel 5:1-8 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon.3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.6 The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.7 And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god."8 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" They answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath." So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. 

 C.T. Studd, a notable missionary who served as a missionary to China, India, and Africa was known to have Jesus’ mindset for single devotion. 

  • Born in England in 1860, one of three sons born in wealth. 
  • Father having made a fortune in India. 
  • By 16 was an expert cricket player and by 19. 
  • Captain of his team at Eton College also recognized as a Cambridge cricketer. 
  • More important, he was saved at the age 18. 
  • When a visiting preacher evangelized him at his home when he was on his way to play cricket. 
  • Preacher asked, “Are you a Christian.” 
  • Catching C.T. up short, he dropped to his knees, being flooded with joy and gratitude for salvation. 
  • God’s word up to this point was dry, now became everything. 
  • T. backslid 6 years but was won back when his brother had a threatening illness and he heard D.L. Moody preach. 
  • T. felt called to pilot a movement called the “Cambridge Seven.” 
  • Seven young men heard Hudson Taylor in chapel and offered themselves to go and support Taylor in the China Inland Mission. 
  • They set sail for China 1885. 

He wrote to his mother: “Mother dear, I do pray God to show you that it is such a privilege to give up a child to be used of God to saving poor sinners who have never even heard the name of Jesus.”  

  • While in China, C.T. turned 25 years old; so according to his father’s will, he inherited a large sum of money. 
  • T. saw this as a “fool’s plunge” to take it, so he gave it all away. 
  • He sent 5000 lyra to Moody, 5000 lyra to George Muller (missions/orphans) and to 15,000 pounds to other missions. 
  • Leaving 3400 pounds to himself. 
  • He married an Irish girl, missionary, giving it to her for an inheritance. 

Only One Life
C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.


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Series Information

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