Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Timothy chapter 6, 1 Timothy chapter 6. We’re going back this morning to the text from last week, I really just want to expand on it. I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to say last Lord’s Day, which is not an uncommon phenomena for me. We covered verses 6 through 10, this matter of the danger of loving money. And afterwards, several people inquired of me, even to the point of writing me letters, about how to avoid that.
How do you set yourself in a spiritual position not to be victimized by the love of money? Let’s look at verse 10 just to establish a starting point. The apostle Paul says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, which some coveted after; they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many severe griefs, or sorrows.”
And we talked last time about the danger of loving money. What I would like to do this morning is just to follow that up a little bit and talk to you about how to avoid loving money, how to avoid loving money. And the best text for that is just to leave 1 Timothy, and let’s go to the sixth chapter of Matthew. And I want to draw us back to this wonderful portion of the Sermon on the Mount to the teaching of our Lord Jesus and have us look at verses 19 through verse 34, the end of the chapter, and in so doing, come to grips with the very basic, elementary teaching of our Lord on how to live a life that is not preoccupied with affection for the material.
Now in looking at Matthew 6:19 to 34, we have a very practical portion of Scripture which our Lord outlines for us. He gives principles to eliminate the love of money, principles to remove our affection from moving in that direction. There are four of them. Let me suggest them to you at the outset and then we’ll look at them individually. First of all, the Lord says in order to avoid love of money you must have the proper treasury; secondly, you must have the proper vision; thirdly, you must have the proper allegiance; and fourthly, the proper confidence.
Let’s look first of all at the proper treasury, beginning in verse 19 and reading through verse 21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our Lord is saying your perspective must include the proper treasury. In other words, “Where do you put your deposits? Where do you invest? Where do you put your money?”
The principle simply stated in verse 19 is, “Treasure not up for yourselves treasure.” It’s the Greek verb from which the English word “thesaurus” comes from, which has to do with a treasury of words. The word means “to lay aside,” “to store,” “to hoard,” “to keep,” “to actually stack up.” In fact, if you look at some of the lexicons, it indicates that it has to do with a vertical stacking rather than a horizontal kind of stacking.
It’s an interesting word. And what the Lord is saying is this: He’s not forbidding us from earning money, He’s not forbidding us from keeping money for good purposes, He is forbidding us from storing money to be wasted on self-indulgence. That’s the whole issue here, that when you perceive life as mainly involving the gaining of money to be stored and then used for your own indulgence, you have a wrong perspective. The key words here are the words “for yourselves.” You might underline that or make a note of it in your mind, because that’s the issue. He doesn’t say, “Lay not up treasures on earth,” He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.”
John Wesley himself said, “I have three great principles when it comes to money. Principle number one, earn as much as you can; principle number two, save as much as you can; principle number three, in order that you may give to God as much as you can.” It is never a question of how much you have, it’s always a question of what you’re going to do with it, and the key here is “for yourselves.”
Somebody said there’s no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself. Very true. The sin here is not earning money, the sin is not even saving money. The book of Proverbs tells us to save money and Jesus in a parable said, “You would have been better to have put your money in the bank and earned interest on it.” The issue here is the accumulation of wealth for self- indulgence, that’s the issue; extravagant luxury with hard- heartedness toward the cause of God, materialism in a word; a sinful habit that is very hard to break and very prevalent in our society.
The Lord never condemns money itself. The Lord never condemns the possession of money. In fact, “It is God who gives you the power to get wealth,” it says in Deuteronomy 8. And it is God who has made men wealthy and made other men to be poor. “It is God” – it says in 1 Timothy 6:17 – “who gives us all things richly to enjoy.” It was rich Abraham who was called, in James 2:23 and in the Old Testament, the friend of God. It was Job who was made wealthier than he had ever been by God. The New Testament even extols diligence in business, Romans 12:11. It extols providing wealth for our households, 1 Timothy 5:8. And so there’s no question that God allows and even grants a certain amount of wealth to people.
The sin comes in where you put that. If you invest it in the kingdom of heaven, you’ve made the right choice. If you invest it in self, you’ve made the wrong one. So in verse 20 He says, “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” And again the key is “for yourselves.”
What do you mean by that? How can I be giving money to God, investing in eternity, and have it reap dividends for me? Well, that’s the whole point, that’s exactly what it does. That is exactly what it does. And I’ll show you how as we go along. You lay up for yourselves treasures on earth and they will remain here. You lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven and they’ll be there to greet you when you arrive.
But we tend, don’t we, to hoard things for ourselves, like the farmer who said, “I have two calves. One, I’m going to grow for myself to feed the family; one, I’m going to grow and sell, and give the money to the Lord.” And some months later came in to announce to his wife a terrible thing has happened: the Lord’s calf died. Well, that’s a rather arbitrary choice, isn’t it? But that’s pretty typical of so much of our thinking.
Make your fortune, but store it in the right treasury. That’s the issue, a proper treasury, where it will be drawing eternal dividends. All our efforts and all our gifts to the Lord’s work to advance His kingdom and glorify His name constitute heavenly treasury.
Look with me for a moment at Luke 16, verse 9; a quite interesting statement is made here in Luke 16:9. And we could really deal with this entire passage, it’s so germane to the subject. But verse 9 for now: “I say unto you,” – says the Lord – “make to yourselves friends by means of the money of unrighteousness, that when it fails, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
That is a very unusual verse, very unusual. It’s even hard to understand at the outset. Money is unrighteous in the sense that it is not righteous, it has no righteous property inherent in it. He says, “Take your money,” – which is basically unrighteous, or maybe a better way to say it would be non-righteous – “and use it to make for yourselves friends.”
You say, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You mean the Bible is saying take your money and buy friendships?” That’s right. “What kind of friendships?” Friendships that when your money fails, they will receive you into everlasting habitation.
The best understanding of this verse is simply this: invest your money in the souls of men and women who will some day greet you in heaven with thanksgiving when you arrive. What a thought. What an incredible thought, to take your money and purchase eternal friendships by investing in the kingdom. What you keep, you lose. What you give to God you keep forever. And that’s why Paul writes to the Colossians and says, “Set your affections on” – what? – “things above and not on things on the earth.”
And He says further – let’s go back to Matthew 6 – that if you do lay up treasure on earth, you’re going to run into problems. Let me give it to you very simply. In ancient Palestine, treasure basically came in three forms. One was garments, your clothes; two was grain, your crop; three was gold. That’s basically it – garments, your clothing; grain, your crops; and gold, your monetary fortune.
He says, regarding your garments, “Moths eat them.” Regarding your grain, the word “rust” is a poor translation really of brōsis. The word literally means “eating.” It’s never used to be a reflective of rust, it has reference to rats or other things that eat stored grain. So He says, first of all, “Moths will eat your clothes, and then rats will eat your grain, and then thieves will steal your gold.” Most of the houses were made out of mud, and so a thief was somebody who dug a hole in a mud wall. They’ll break in and steal.
So if you put your fortune in worldly things, it is subject to worldly corruption. We say, “Ah, but I’m covered. I have moth balls, rat poison, and burglar alarms; and there’s no way they can get at me.” Yeah, well as I said last week, you’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U‑Haul. There will come a time when it all ends and you’re not taking it with you.
The major thing that He wants us to consider is in verse 21. He says in verse 20, there are no need for moth balls in heaven, there is no eating that can corrupt what you’ve laid aside, and there are no thieves. But the real issue in verse 21 is, “Wherever you put your treasure,” – that’s what? – “that’s exactly where your heart is.”
Show me a man’s checkbook and I’ll tell you where his heart is. Just let me see the list of where he writes his checks and I’ll tell you where his heart is. Pretty simple, because wherever his treasure is, that’s where his heart is. And rather than give away what you have to purposeless consumption and indulgence in this world, Jesus says give to the Lord, that you may place your heart where your fortune is, and that is in the matters concerning His kingdom.
Where’s your treasury? That’s the question. If you love money, it’s here. If you love God more than you love money, it’s there. Very simple.
Secondly, to avoid the love of money you not only must have the proper treasury, but the proper vision. And they go along with each other, verse 22: “The lamp of the body is the eye;” – that is, it is that organ of the body which lets light in – “if therefore thine eye be healthy, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Now what is He saying here? Let me give it to you simply. Just as your eye affects your physical perception, so where you fix your heart determines your spiritual perception. In other words, a seeing eye floods the body with light. You see, you are filled with light, light is everywhere, your eyes can capture it. And so it is with a spiritually clear eye that has its focus on the kingdom of heaven, it has a heavenly vision of treasure, and therefore spiritually is lighted. The heart that is set on godly things is lighted, it is lit with spiritual sight. Blind eyes bring only darkness. An earthly perspective, an earthly vision that is selfish and indulgent plunges one into spiritual darkness.
The point is this: if your focus is continually on money and on accumulation and on materialism and self‑indulgence, you will be blind to spiritual reality. Your spiritual eyes are dark, your vision is clouded, and it is a severe darkness, it says at the end of verse 23, a severe one. Greedy people become blind to spiritual reality. They can’t see spiritual reality. They can’t see spiritual need. They can’t see the joy of spiritual investment. Their focus is really on the wrong thing, and they therefore become blind.
The word “healthy,” just as a note, in verse 22, the Authorized says, “If your eye is healthy,” is actually the word that’s translated at least three places, I found, in the New Testament by the word “generous, generous.” And so this tells us really what he means here. The word for “evil” in verse 23, ponēros, is used in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 15:9, and translated there with the idea of grudging or ungenerous.
So what he is saying is, if you are characteristically generous in putting your treasure in heaven, you’re going to see clearly spiritually. If you are characteristically ungenerous and put your money in your own self-indulgence in the world, you are going to be characteristically blind. Generosity forms a clear understanding of life, grudging selfishness distorts everything, and it distorts the spiritual dimension most of all. So the call here is for a heavenly vision, and a heavenly vision is a corollary to a generous heart.
So first of all, if we’re going to be free from the love of money we want to make sure we’ve chosen the right place to invest, and secondly, we want to make sure we have a perception of spiritual reality, and that our viewpoint is that which pertains to the kingdom of God, not to self. One who is consumed with his own self aggrandizement becomes blind to the things of God. And if we can sharpen our focus on the Lord and on His kingdom, then we can really see spiritually.
So avoiding loving money requires having the right treasury and the right vision. Thirdly, and this is so important, the right allegiance, the right allegiance. And these really run parallel to each other. Verse 24, “No man,” – and that’s inclusive, “no man can serve” – what? – “two masters.” It’s impossible. That is axiomatic, it is impossible. “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.”
And so, the conclusion is, “You can’t serve God and at the same time serve money.” So the love of money is exclusive and therefore eliminates the love of God. On the other hand, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is then to set aside the love of money. You must have the proper allegiance. You ask yourself the question: “Do I love God or do I love money?”
John Calvin said, “Where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority.” It’s true. Because where riches hold the dominion of the heart, when the Spirit of God prompts someone to give money to the kingdom to invest in the kingdom, the person resists that in self-indulgent, prideful protection of his own investments; and therefore the authority of God in that life is blunted and ignored.
On the other hand, M. E. Byrne wrote in that lovely hymn, “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise; Thou my inheritance now and always.” “Jesus first in my heart,” he said.
You see, the orders you get from God and the orders you get from self-indulgent love of money are diametrically opposite. One commands you to walk by faith, the other to walk by sight. One calls you to be humble, the other to be proud. One to set your affection on things above, the other to set your affection on things on the earth. One to look at things unseen and eternal, the other to look at things seen and temporal. One to have your conversation in heaven, the other to cleave to the dust. One to be careful for nothing, the other to have all anxiety. One to be content with such as you have, the other to enlarge your desires as big as hell. One to be ready to distribute, the other withhold. One to look at the things of others, the other to look at your own things. One to seek happiness in the Creator, the other to seek happiness in the creature. They’re mutually exclusive, and so you have to determine your allegiance. The love of money is inseparably related to where your treasury is, what your vision is, and to whom your allegiance is given.
The safest place, by the way, I feel, for my money is in God’s hands. You feel that way? He’s the safest steward of all. And sadly, we live in a world that has gone mad over the matter of accumulation for selfish purposes, indulging itself under the illusion that that brings happiness, joy, peace, and contentment. It doesn’t. Contentment comes from being attached to the right master, the right master.
After all, have you thought about this: “Who owns everything?” Class? God. Thank you. Who owns everything? God owns everything. That’s good. “The earth” – Psalm 24:1 says – “belongs to God.” Anything in the world is His. First Chronicles 29:11 says, “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord.” It all belongs to Him.
I was reading John Wesley some years ago. His house burned down, and he said simply this: “The Lord’s house burned; that’s one less responsibility for me.” That’s the spirit.
Do you realize that there’s only really been one nation in the history of the world that understood the proper relationship to possessions, and that was the nation Israel; because they understood that God owned everything, that God owned everything. They were a theocracy, and God owned everything. They were just managing it as a point of stewardship by which they could be spiritually evaluated. But God owned everything. We are victims not of a legacy of the culture of the Old Testament, but of the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, who believed they owned everything; and that mentality dominates us.
Not only does God own everything, He controls everything. He controls everything. First Chronicles 29, again, 11 and 12 says, in effect, that God controls everything. Therefore if God owns everything and God controls everything, then God provides everything. Is that not so? Everything we have, absolutely everything that we have is given to us by God. There is nothing that we possess, even the most mundane things of life that God has not allowed us to possess.
For believers particularly, Luke 12:31, “Seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. So sell what you have, give alms, provide yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Basically the same ideas with the added thought that you can give it all away because God is in charge of providing what you need.
The point is, beloved, we don’t have to control our destiny. We don’t have to control everything. We can’t say, “Boy, I dare not give that to God, because what’s going to happen to me in the future?” et cetera, et cetera. If the Spirit of God prompts your heart, respond to the Spirit of God with the confidence that God owns everything, God controls everything, and God promises to provide everything needed by His own. If God gave you life, God will sustain that life, won’t He? So we’re anchored to that confidence.
As World War II was coming to a close, the allied armies gathered many of the hungry orphans that were left as a result of the war. They were placed in camps and they were well-fed. Despite excellent care, they found that these children couldn’t sleep. They seemed nervous and afraid, and they would stay awake all night with insomnia starring at the ceiling. Finally somebody came in to try to figure out what was going on. They came up with a solution. Every night before the children were put in bed, they were given a little piece of bread to hold in their hand, and they went to sleep clutching this little piece of bread.
You say, “What was the point?” The point was, they had lived so long existing without food in hunger that they couldn’t sleep for fear that they wouldn’t be able to eat the next day. But once they put a little piece of bread in their hand and they knew the next day was secure, they could sleep. It’s as if when God gives us the promise, “Fear not, little flock, it’s your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” He puts a little piece of bread in our hands and says, “Go to sleep. What are you worried about? What are you worried about?”
And that brings us to the fourth point and the final point in avoiding the love of money, and this one stretches through the rest of the text: it demands that you have a proper confidence. Not only the right treasury and vision and the right allegiance, but the right confidence built on who your God is.
Verse 25: “Therefore,” – and you know what the therefore’s there for, it’s a transition – “because of what you have just heard, having the right treasury and the right vision and the right allegiance, therefore with those things in place, I say to you, stop worrying, don’t be anxious, don’t be anxious.”
Verse 31: “Don’t be anxious.” Verse 34: “Don’t be anxious.” He says it three times. You get the feeling that they were what? Anxious. Very good. They were excessively worried about things they ought not to have been worried about at all.
Now what is it He says? “I say unto you, by the way,” – He says – “stop being anxious,” – in this verse, the form of the Greek – “don’t start being anxious,” in verse 31. So He hits it from both angles. But He says, “Don’t be anxious for your life,” psuchē, your physical, earthly life. Don’t be anxious for your physical life. Don’t worry about that, because, you see, people are going to say, “Well, I’d love to give to the kingdom, and I’d love to open my spiritual eyes and have that perspective, and I would love to have this allegiance that invests in the glory of my God who is my Lord, I want that. But I’m concerned about providing for myself,” and so forth and so on.
Now it’s not a question of giving away what you need to live, it’s a question of that stockpiling mentality that says I’m amassing my fortune to cover all my bases. And when the Spirit of God prompts your heart to give, you don’t do it, and you’re disobedient to that authority because you feel you have to have it to indulge yourself in whatever way you have decided.
But what our Lord is saying is, since heavenly treasure fully satisfies and sets the heart in the right place, since generous giving brings mental, moral, spiritual vision, and since allegiance to the Lord puts us under His loving authority and care, therefore we can have confidence and not worry about our physical life. Don’t be preoccupied with that. Even the basic necessities of life are in God’s control.
Now you remember in Timothy that the text basically said that man was to provide for his household; if he didn’t do that he was worse than an infidel. And you remember also that we are to be content with the basic necessities of life. “Be content” – the Scripture says – “with such things as you have.” That’s the idea. And anything beyond that, God may want us to save for future use in His kingdom. God may want us to give to someone in need. God may want us to invest in the kingdom. God may want us to do all kinds of things. We want to be responsive to whatever He asks without fear because we have the confidence that we’re under His care. That’s living by faith.
Now what are the things He refers to here? The necessities: food, water, and clothes. Now if you lived in Palestine at that time you would realize that that’s basically what occupied most people’s life – the pursuit of food, the pursuit of water, and the pursuit of clothing. They were into the basic necessities of life. He says you shouldn’t worry about this, and let me show you why.
Number one: The first reason you don’t worry about this is because you have confidence in your Father. That kind of anxiety is unnecessary because of who your Father is. And He promises to take care of these necessities. First of all, food. He says in verse 25, “Don’t be anxious for your life,” – that is the physical part – “what you eat, what you drink, nor yet for your body what you shall put on. Isn’t life more than food, and isn’t the body more than its clothing?” In other words, don’t get preoccupied with mundane things, material things. Boy, that seems so obscure to us and so hard to interpret and understand, because we’re so locked in to that kind of preoccupation.
But first of all, in verse 26, here’s why you don’t worry about food. Here’s why you don’t worry about it. He says, “Behold the fowls of the air.” It’s very likely that they might have been flying by at that very moment. There is obviously, to anyone who knows any of the history of Israel, a very, very prominent place given to birds. In fact, one ancient assessment was that it was the crossroads of bird migration – that is Galilee was. Sowing in the field brought birds to eat the seed. And so maybe there were some birds flying by.
And He says, “The fowls of the air, they don’t sow, they don’t sow, they don’t reap, they don’t gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” And then there’s an a fortiori argument which says from the lesser to the greater, “Are you not much better than they? What are you worried about? You ever see a bird lying on its back saying, ‘Woe is me, I’m starving’? God cares for them.”
The Scripture emphasizes this. Job 38:41, “Who provides for the ravens his food?” Psalm 104, “So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. These wait all upon Thee that Thou mayest give them their food in due season.” God feeds all the created world. “And will He not feed you? Are you not better than they, much better than they?”
Now this is not an excuse for idleness. You don’t see the birds lining up at some God-centered distribution point, they do their work. They don’t sit on the branch waiting for food to drop in their beak, they search for it. They gather insects and worms, they prepare their nest, they care for their young, they teach them to fly and pursue their own food. And so it is with man; we do our work. In fact, the Scripture says in 2 Thessalonians, “If you don’t work, you shouldn’t” – what? – “eat.” So there’s work to do, but the provision is made by God. And to say that God will provide your food is to say also that God will provide a means for you to earn your food. And that’s the promise, our Lord’s argument from the lesser to the greater.
Birds don’t overdo a good thing like the rich fool, they don’t build barns and keep more than they need. They don’t store up, stock up, and add to what they already have unnecessarily. They simply gather enough and they’re satisfied – no stockpiling, no stuffing, no hoarding. And that’s what the Lord is saying: “The birds can’t plan ahead. They have no reason to worry. You have no reason to worry either, you’re more important than they are. Are you not more valuable than them?” What a beautiful thought.
So that frees me. Does that free you? I’m not worried about my future. People say to me all the time, “What are you doing for your retirement?” My first answer to that is, “What retirement? You mean when I stop preaching? That’ll happen when I don’t have a voice. What do you mean, ‘What am I doing for my retirement?’ You mean when I get to the point where I don’t have anything to do but sit back and indulge myself with all that I’ve amassed?
“I’ll never come to that point. All I want to do is take what God has given me, reinvest it back in His kingdom in a wise manner, some to be given today, some to be saved for future use for His glory when He lays before me things that He wants me to be a part of in the days to come; but always the perspective has to be that. And I don’t have any anxiety about the future, because of God feeds birds, I think He’ll feed me. That’s His promise. And when He stops feeding me, that’s because He wants me to go home. But as long as He gives me life and breath here, He’ll make sure that I’m sustained.”
You say, “Yes, but I want to be sustained at the manner of life in which I am accustomed.” Well, that’s a whole different ball game, folks. I just want to be sustained in life in the manner in which God decides I need to be sustained. Life is a gift from God. And if He gives it, He’ll sustain it. I’m not going to be anxious for that. If He gives me the gift of life, He’ll give me the gift of food that life may be sustained.
So, first of all, it’s pretty silly not to have confidence in God because of who our Father really is; He is the provider of our food. Look at verse 27, and this is quite interesting. He is the provider of our lifespan, verse 27: “Which of you by being anxious or worrying can add a cubit to his stature?”
Now people have misunderstood this. A cubit is basically eighteen inches, eighteen inches. Now that wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Which of you by worrying can add eighteen inches to your stature? That would make me about seven-foot-ten. That’s, at best, hyperbolic at that point. What you have to understand is the word hēlikia basically means not so much your stature as your span of life. And the idea is somewhat metaphorical.
He’s saying, “Which of you can worry yourself into a longer life?” The converse is true: you worry and you’re likely to have what? A shorter one. Worrying isn’t going to do you any good. You cannot add to your span of life by anxiety. In fact, what you’ll do is shorten your span of life by anxiety.
So we’re not going to give ourselves to something that shortens our span of life. “Worry” – Charles Mayo, the Mayo Clinic says – “effects circulation, the heart rate, the glands, the nervous system.” He said, “I have never known of a man to die of overwork, but many die of worry.” That’s right. You can worry yourself to death, but you’ll never worry yourself into longer life.
Such a sin of mistrusting God is so foolish. God has given us life and God has given us food, and God will give us the fullness of the span of life that He wants us to have, His sovereignly designed life plan. I can’t lengthen it. I could shorten it by my sin, 1 Corinthians, 1 John 5. He might just take me out because of sin. But I’ll live that full span that God sovereignly designed. And why not live it to His glory.
Do you understand what I’m saying? You don’t need to control your destiny. You need to invest in God’s kingdom, as prompted by the Spirit, and let Him take care of the results. And I’ll tell you, that’s the only wonderful way to live. And you will see that God will keep providing more and more than you can possibly use, because He is a God of grace.
And then He gives a third illustration: “What about my clothing? Boy, I have got to keep working, because I have these withdrawals if I come to the end of a full week and I haven’t been to the mall in seven days.” As somebody recently said, “A woman’s place is in the mall.” And, “I get pangs if I don’t get there and get a new dress or a new suit,” or whatever it is that people go there to get. “I’ve got to take care of myself. We’ve got to be clothed properly.”
So in verse 28 He says, “Why are you worried about your clothes? You worry about your clothes? Consider this: the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you? O you of little faith.”
That’s so practical: “Why are you anxious about your clothes?” Some people are very anxious about their clothes. They don’t want to go out of the house if they have something on they had on the day before. They’re very, very conscious about what they wear.
They also can be fearful about what they might not be able to wear, and so there are many working wives who are out abandoning their children for nothing more than to support certain fashion habits. Lusting after costly clothes is a sin. In fact, do you remember what it says in Timothy that, “A woman is to be adorned not so much on the outside but” – what? – “on the inside,” the hidden man of the heart, that sweet, meek, quiet spirit, that which characterized Sarah, who called her husband Abraham, lord, as 1 Peter 3 tells us.
So the Lord says, “Look, don’t worry about your clothes. I’ll make sure you’re not only clothed, but I’ll make sure you’re clothed beautifully. You want an illustration? The field lilies, the field lilies. Look at them, how they grow. They grow with seemingly no effort, freely, gorgeously without effort. I’m looking at these flowers and I’m saying, ‘I don’t see anybody in here that’s as delicately and beautifully arrayed as they are.’ What an indictment,” He says. “The best of human garments,” – verse 29 – “Solomon in all his glory can’t even come close.”
That little flower, that lovely, little gentle flower, that fragile flower was more beautiful than any garment – gorgeous, fragile in its beauty. Put it by the side of any garment Solomon ever had, and it pales to the magnificence of that flower. The finest fabric that any human being ever wore cannot under a microscope look like anything but sackcloth. Take that flower, put it under a microscope, and see the delicate living beauty of God’s glorious creation. There’s no comparison.
He’s not indulging in hyperbole, He’s stating fact. No garment loomed in the finest and softest texture is anything but sackcloth when placed beside the petal of a flower. The little scarlet poppies that blossomed one day on the hillsides of Palestine and were clothed in a beauty surpassing royal robes, and a day later burned up and vanished away and replaced by new ones exceed in beauty anything that we could ever create.
So He says in verse 30, “If God’s going to clothe the grass of the field, those little flowers, and it only lasts a day and tomorrow is thrown into the oven to be burned, how shall He not much more clothe you? O ye of little faith.” And again His argument is from the lesser to the greater. Let the men of the world worry. Let the people of the world worry. I’m not going to worry about that. I’m not going to say, “I can’t give to God, I might not have enough for my new suit.” I don’t want to say that. I want to give all I have to God, and let God clothe me in a wonderful way.
And I can tell you the Lord does it, folks. I just want you to know that the Lord knows how to do that, and I bless His name for that. So God is good. In fact, the suit I have on now was a gift to me from the Moody Bible Institute when they asked me to make a movie. They wanted me to have a gray suit, so they said, “Here, take this money and go buy a gray suit.” So the Lord said He wanted me to have this suit through that means. The Lord is good.
Not long ago there was a gentleman who said, “I want you to have a car.” The church has provided a car for me in the past, but they don’t have to do that anymore because a man gave me a car. And see, I never worry about that. In fact, a man called me a couple of days ago and said, “I don’t know if your wife has a car.” “Well,” – I said – “at the present time, we kind of share the car.” And he said, “Well, Monday you come, and I want to give you a car for your wife.”
Now I don’t know, I’m just saying, “All right, Lord, if You want me to have this, I can handle it.” I’m not going to argue about it. But I have this sense of stewardship, you know. But I’m not going to worry about that. I’m not storing up money to save for my future, God has proven Himself to me. And I’m just grateful, and I don’t want to be want to be selfish about those things, and I don’t want to be indulgent. But I have learned that my God gives, and He gives richly, and He gives to be enjoyed.
See, the sum of it is very clear. God takes care of all the necessities of life in a grand and glorious way, so what are you worried about? And so, He says, “Your real problem” – the end of verse 30 – “is you have little faith.” And remember what we called the disciples, the little faith association? Inevitably, He was giving them this speech at some point or another: “Don’t you worry about those things, just trust Me.”
Boy, it’s really wonderful to live by faith. That doesn’t necessarily mean you live by poverty, it just means you live by faith, and you accept what God gives, and you invest in His kingdom. So you know where your treasury is, you know where your vision is, you know where your allegiance is, therefore you know where your confidence is. And I’m not going to distrust God, because I know who my Father is, and I know what His resources are.
“Therefore – verse 31, He hits it again – not only am I confident because of who My Father is, but I’m confident because of My faith in Him. “Don’t be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink?’ or ‘What we be clothed with?’ For all these things do the pagans seek.”
You see, that’s the world. They’re out there hacking through the jungle to make sure they get their share, carving out their space. Not us. “Your heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things.” Isn’t that wonderful? He knows exactly what you need. So your task is to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be” – what? – “added unto you.”
I’m not anxious about what I eat, what I drink, what I put on. Why? Because that’s typical of unbelievers. They’re worried about that. It’s needless for me, because of God’s bounty. It’s senseless, because of God’s promise. It’s useless, because of man’s inability. And it’s faithless. It is uncharacteristic of Christian faith to worry about that.
I just want to see God work. And as I’ve said to you in past years, what do you believe in God for that only He can do, so when He does it you give Him all the credit? Boy, some of us are so insulated against God doing anything because we’ve got every base covered. Where’s your vulnerability where God can work? God works.
I tell you, folks, there is a God who loves and cares for His own, and who shows Himself faithful in what He wants to do. And if He doesn’t have a lot of folks to do it like at Grace Church, He’ll find somebody else to do it, and we see by faith the hand of God. That’s how it is in life, and that’s what makes it exciting to live by faith.
The heathen? Hey, they’re in complete darkness. They don’t have any connection with God, so they’re amassing it for themselves. Not us. Not us.
Some people think that materialism is a trivial sin. No. Materialism is one of the grossest, most heinous sins. Let me tell you why: because it strikes a blow at the character and the promise of God. You understand that? It is a devastating sin against the character of God as provider, and the promise of God who said He will care for His own. “The Gentiles seek with all their might.” It’s an emphatic phrase there in verse 32. They really seek, consumed with material gratification. Not us. Not us.
What do we seek? Well, first of all, we know our Father knows we have need of all these things. He knows we need food, He knows we need clothing, He knows we need to care for our families; He knows all that. But we seek first the kingdom and all of that, He adds. That’s the way to live. So you don’t love money, you love God. You don’t seek money, you seek God. You don’t seek to be rich, you seek to do your best. And He knows you need these things.
And then finally in verse 34, and we’ll come back to verse 33 in a minute and just wrap it up. But in verse 34 He is saying, “I’m confident in God because of who my Father is, because of my faith in Him,” – and then lastly He sort of says – “because of my future.” “Be therefore not anxious about tomorrow,” – don’t worry about tomorrow – “for tomorrow will have enough worry for the things of itself sufficient to the day is its own evil.”
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Why? God is the God of tomorrow. Tomorrow will be whatever tomorrow will be, but God will be who God is tomorrow, just as He is today. God is the God of tomorrow, just as He’s the God of today. The worries of tomorrow will be there tomorrow, and so will God; and I want to live for today. What a wonderful approach to life.
Worry about the future debilitates people constantly. They’re worried about usually what hasn’t happened. Is that not true? They’re worried about usually what never will happen, and so they forfeit the joy of what could happen today because they’ve sentenced themselves to anxiety about a non‑existent future.
The Lord says, “Don’t do that. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Every day has enough trouble all by itself. You don’t need tomorrow’s trouble added to today’s.” You understand that?
But some people aren’t satisfied with today’s trouble, they want years of trouble pushed in to today. I don’t know why. God only gives you strength for what? Today. His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. We sung it, didn’t we, from Jeremiah. There’s no sense in worrying about the future. Fear is a liar. Fear lies to you about the future. It doesn’t tell you the truth. Don’t cripple the present by worry about the future.
So, the fourth thing then is you have to have the proper confidence. You trust God who’s your Father, you put your faith in Him, you let Him take care of the future, and you live for today. Beloved, you’re no spiritual orphan. You’re the child of God. He hasn’t abandoned you, He’s there. And He’ll meet every need.
So go back to verse 33 and let’s focus finally on what we’re all about. “Seek ye first” – that’s the priority – “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” What does He mean by that? Well, in everything you do that’s your pursuit. I’m seeking God’s kingdom.
What is the kingdom? What does it represent? Well, there’s a sense in which the kingdom represents conversion. Entrance into the kingdom is by grace through faith. And so, what He is saying, first of all, is seek to enter the kingdom. If you’re not there, we’re assuming that the ones to whom He speaks are. So He is saying, “Seek the conversion of others. Seek the extension of the kingdom. Seek the expansion of the kingdom through conversion.”
Secondly, when He says seek the kingdom, He is saying seek to fulfill the commands and demands and character of the kingdom through your own spiritual commitment. As Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, spiritual principles, spiritual blessings, spiritual characteristics. So we seek the kingdom by seeking the salvation of the lost, by seeking the extension of the power of the Spirit, the joy of the Spirit, all those spiritual principles.
And then thirdly, seeking the kingdom means to anticipate the coming of the Christ in that great millennial glory which will invade the world and usher in what ultimately will become the eternal kingdom of Christ. Seek the kingdom in every sense. Let your life and your energy and your talent and your time and your money all go toward the advance of the kingdom, that’s the issue. And then if God responds by giving you much or giving you little, you be content, because you know your needs will be met. He says, “If you seek the kingdom, all these things will be” – what? – “added unto you.”
When somebody comes to me and says, “Boy, I don’t know if I have enough money to make it.” Often I’ll say to them, “Well, maybe it’s because you haven’t been giving enough.” Sometimes people will step back and say, “What? I couldn’t afford to give any more.” Maybe the reason you can’t afford to give anymore is because you haven’t given enough. You’ve never allowed yourself the privilege of living under the promises of God.
Well, I want the Holy Spirit to apply this to all of our hearts individually as we think on it and meditate on it. Let’s bow together in prayer.
We thank You, Father, for the good word that comes to us from the dear apostle Paul who says that we are to avoid the love of money, because it is a root of all kinds of evil. We thank You for that wisdom, that Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom that reminds us that people who pursue that as a way of life are consumed with all kinds of grief, err from the faith, pierce themselves through like meat on a skewer, with their soul literally torn apart.
Father, help us never to pursue those things which are so unfulfilling, but help us to love You so much that all we ever seek is for the advance of Your kingdom, that our resources are poured into that. And if You’re gracious enough to give us a comfortable home, may we use it for Your glory and share it with others. And if You’re gracious enough to give us clothing and a car and some of the benefits of life, the ability to travel and to enjoy some special things, to put in our homes objects of beauty, pieces of art, pictures, help us to realize that the source of beauty, the source of design comes from You, and to give You glory for it, and to share it with others that they might in enjoying its beauty see the wonder of the creative mind of our great God. Lord, just give us that focus in everything.
And, Lord, help us to take our resources, and under the prompting of the Spirit of God not withstand Your authority as You call us to invest in eternity, that the kingdom might be built. What else would there be to live for? And then to know Your good and gracious hand which continually pours out on us the benefits of Your sweet grace.
Bless every person here, Lord. There are some struggling with this, some who have much and are struggling with being selfish, some who have very little and are struggling with having their very needs met. Help us all, Lord, personally and individually, in that intimate relationship which we enjoy with You, to seek Your will, and to wait for Your provision, and to be content with whatever we have, be it much or little, knowing it is what You have given us for Your glory, in Christ’s name. Amen.
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