Title: The Sermon on the Mount part 7
Scriptures to Read: Read Matthew 6:19-7:12
In this section Jesus gives five more lessons in the practice of true righteousness.
Regarding Money (Matthew 6:19-24)
Regarding our treasure, Jesus points that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Now why did He say this? Jeremiah describes the heart in Jeremiah 17:5-11. Jeremiah contrasts the man who trusts in himself with the man who trusts in the Lord (vv 5-8). Then in verse 9 he says: “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Perhaps the heart can be understood by looking to see what it treasures. The point Jesus is making here is that a man’s heart will determine what his treasure is. Then in verses 22 & 23 He points out the importance of what we are looking at or what we focus on. In the context, if we focus on wealth and material things then we will have darkness. If we are looking to God we will have light. In verse 24 the principle is that we cannot serve two masters, and the question is: in which master do we trust for our security? The word mammon is a common rabbinic term for what the world offers materially. If we give ourselves to serving money, we will fail to serve God. If we serve God and do what we have to do then our needs will be provided, and we will know how to use the mammon when it comes to us. How do I know where my heart is? By looking to see what it treasures.
Regarding Anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34)
Verse 25 begins “for this reason.” For what reason? Because we cannot serve both God and mammon. What follows is founded on the fact that we cannot serve two masters, and obviously we should be serving and trusting God. We should not be anxious for our basic needs, because, as He points out (vv 25-31), God takes care of the birds of the heavens, and He takes care of the flowers of the field. No matter how worried we get we cannot change the situation. Notice also the argument from the lesser to the greater. How much more will God care for us? There are three basic things we can trust God to provide in normal times (periods of persecution are an exception): A roof over our heads, clothing for our body, and food on the table. In verse 32 Jesus gives two reasons why we should not worry.
1. First, the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things. We should not be like the Gentiles who don’t know God.
2. Secondly, your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. We can trust God who knows our needs.
Then in verse 33 He comes to the very point of His sermon. The conduct of true righteousness teaches us to: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and be concerned about doing the righteousness of God, Again, the contrast here is between His kingdom and His righteousness and that of the Pharisees.
Regarding Judging (Matthew 7:1-6)
People often use this verse out of context to say that believers should not judge other believers. That is not what the issue is because the Bible tells us to confront people living in sin and the issue of church discipline spelled out in Matt. 18 requires measures of judgement. In verse 2 the emphasis is upon your standard of measure. The point here is: Do not use man-made standards, such as the Mishnah, to judge Jewish loyalties. The Pharisees judged the Judaism of other Jews according to how they conformed to the oral law and rabbinic traditions. Those who judge others on the basis of added rules and regulations are like those who try to take a mere piece of sawdust from a person’s eye, not realizing that they have a plank of wood in their own eye. Both the sawdust and the plank are made of the same thing: wood. The sawdust will merely irritate the eye, but a plank will cause the eye to be blinded. So those who are using unbiblical standards to judge others are the ones who have the planks. Then verse 6 says that when you teach the Word of God you need to use some wisdom as to who you teach what. If people are coming together for no other reason than to make fun of you, to reject you, and to ridicule you, then you don’t give them the jewelry of the Word of God. Give them the basic Gospel. That’s all you can do. But the gems of the Word of God must be given to those willing to learn and willing to accept it.
Regarding persistence in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11)
Concerning prayer, He teaches one more lesson here: persistence. Ask, seek, and knock until the problem is resolved or until you have been released from the burden. In the Greek this is in present tense – keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. This is not vain repetition – as long as it is still your burden it is still your prayer. Praying a prayer over and over again that is a real concern of yours is here not only permissible, it is encouraged. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking – there should be persistence in our prayer life as well.
The Golden Rule: The Core of the Practice of True Righteousness (Matthew 7:12)
In everything… He is summing up. Therefore… Why is the therefore there? What follows is linked to what He has just finished saying. Because of the characteristics of true righteousness, because of the code of true righteousness and its interpretation, because of the outworking of true righteousness in practice, indeed because of true righteousness, treat people the way you want them to treat you. And why? “For this is the Law and the prophets.” In the area of actions this summarizes the Law and the Prophets. The Law contained commandments in relationship to God and commandments in relationship to man. As long as we keep the commandments in relationship to God we will keep the commandments in relationship to men. If we fail to keep our commandments in relationship to men we are also failing to keep our commandments in relationship to God. This is the core of the Law and the Prophets.