Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The first featured Scripture is quite long, but it is perhaps the best one that deals with where our priorities ought to be! Here is what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 through 34 in the Sermon on the Mount:
You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Con- sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Suf- ficient for the day is its own trouble.
At the end of verse 24 (the beginning of our featured Scripture), the Lord said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” What is mammon? Basically, it means money and the things money can buy! A lot of people serve mammon! And if they serve mammon, they cannot be serving God! Why?
- Because Jesus said so! I quoted just the last words of Matthew 6:24, above. The whole verse says this: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
- In Exodus 20:5 we are told by God Himself, “For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God….” In other words, He brooks no rivals!
✞ He created us to love, worship, and serve Him! ✞ And anything that rivals Him in our hearts and lives is putting that thing first, and displaces the LORD from His rightful position as Ruler in our lives! That ‘anything’ that takes God’s first place is called idolatry! ✞ The very first of the Ten Commandments highlights this issue: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3).
- Paul deals with ‘mammon’ in I Timothy 6:9 and 10: “…those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
- In Revelation 18:11 through 13, John is shown a vision of Babylon totally destroyed! Babylon represents the world commerce system! And now it lays in ruins:
And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object made of pre- cious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and in- cense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.
In writing lists in Greek language, the lists are given in the order of most important to least important from the perspective of the one (ones) making the list.
- Consider the merchants of the earth – notice of the 28 commodities listed what is most important and what is least:
✞ The two most important items – gold and silver! ✞ The two least important items – The bodies and souls of men! ➔ Bodies of men represent the needs of people in this world – mainly physical needs which are of temporal importance! The world may seem to care about physical needs of people – hunger, health, homelessness, etc. ❏ But what about thousands upon thousands that die or are injured in war? ❏ What about political suppression of people in certain countries? ❏ What about the drug epidemic? ❏ What about human trafficking? ❏ What about the rise in gun violence and crime in general? ❏ What about abortion? ➔ Souls of men represent the spiritual needs of people, which are of eternal importance! Does the world care... ❏ ...that God offers eternal salvation for all? ❏ ...that eternal suffering in hell is the only alternative?
- In the buying and selling of earth-bound merchandise…
✞ ...gold and silver take precedence! It is the bottom line that counts! ✞ ...bodies and souls of men (and women) are expendable!
Now turn that list in Revelation 18:11 through 13 completely upside down and you will have God’s perspective of what is most precious to Him, and what is least precious!
- He already owns all the gold and silver! (see below).
- He is concerned…
✞ ...for the bodily needs – physical, mental, emotional, relational needs, yes, but... ✞ ...especially for the spiritual condition... ➔ ...of His people, that they would grow and mature in their Christian faith! (see Ephesians 4:15). ➔ ...of all mankind, that the lost would be saved! (see Luke 19:10).
So what are YOU pursuing? In Matthew 6:33 of our featured Scripture, Jesus gives us the proper pursuit: “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
God’s got all the rest!
In our second featured Scripture, Philippians 4:19, Paul succinctly sums it up: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” How rich is God?
- Psalm 50:9 through 12 gives a hint how rich God is:
I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fulness.
- John W. Peterson wrote a song about this Psalm 50 passage:
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
The wealth in every mine,
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine,
Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell
He is my Father so they’re mine as well
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
I know that He will care for me.
Someone has said, “‘He owns the cattle on a thousand hills…’ with the price of beef today, God is certainly rich!” And, as Peterson wrote, “He is my Father so they’re mine as well…”!
- He only gives good gifts! (see Matthew 7:11). He gives nothing that will destroy us!
- He has already given us the best – His Son Jesus Christ! Anything else He could gice us is a lesser gift! (see Romans 8:31, 32).
One more thing:
Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us!
He will give us what we need,
not always what we want!