What is the Meaning of Matthew 6.22-24

“Single-Minded Service to God”

Matthew 6:22-24

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 6.22-24

Matthew 6. This last week, I was teaching the book of Acts in Edmonton. I forgot to mention that last week. But when we studied Annias and Sapharia, I was struck.

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Here is a couple who saw the material sacrifice that others were making and they wanted to do that too, but for all the wrong reasons. They sold some property and kept back some of the earnings and gave the rest to the apostles. That wouldn’t be sinful at all, except what they said was they gave all of the earnings, when they only gave some of the earnings. Peter was supernaturally informed about their lie, confronted them about it, and they each died on the spot for their lie.

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They stored up their treasure on earth but they wanted the prestige and praise of giving to the church. What they had an eye for was money. But if they had taken Jesus’ teaching to heart in Matthew 6:19, they could have avoided that trap.

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Matthew 6:19–24 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

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When deciding on which of the 2 treasures, which of the 2 eyes, and which of the 2 masters, they choose earthly riches and not heavenly riches.

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Paul says that those who seek to get rich, pierce themselves through with many sorrows (1 Ti. 6:10). Those who were with Annias and Sapharia that day got a first hand glimpse of that sorrow. This week, I imagined that after that moment, the early church went back and studied Jesus’ teaching in our text.

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If they had, they would have gathered 3 principles.

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[1]First, in verse 19-20, they would have come to find out that everyone has a treasure. “Don’t store up treasures on earth, but treasures in heaven.” One of two choices, so everyone has a treasure!

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Whether it is acceptance from others or power and control, to be the center of attention. Or maybe it’s success and the workaholic way of life, working to the point of causing damage to your physical and spiritual health and relationships with others. Perhaps it’s the comfort of possessions and pleasures, or … maybe it’s Christ and His mission…your life would tell you which is your treasure, but everyone has a treasure and everyone is living for that treasure.

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The early church at that time also would have discovered in verse 21, that that treasure controls you. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You will follow after and be controlled by what you treasure. “Your heart is where your treasure is.”

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And third, in verse 22-24, what controls you controls your behavior. Everyone has a treasure, that treasure controls you, and it controls your behavior. “No one can serve two masters.” You’re serving something. Either you’ll serve God wholeheartedly, with a single eye, or you’ll serve wealth and be covetous.

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The early church could look at Ananias and Sapharia and say, “Well, I guess we know what they were treasuring: money and a testimony of being generous.” Those folks could say all they want that their heart was in the right place, but it was evident that their hearts were not in the right place!

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So, if you want to know why you are behaving the way that you are, take a look at what you’re treasuring. Your treasure will control you and your behaviour.

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That the evangelical church has been invaded with worldly people who serve wealth and give a head-nod to God when it’s convenient, is not news. For how many Christians in Christian churches is this poem true…

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Now I lay me down to sleep[a ring of spirituality]

I pray my Cuisinart to keep

I pray my stocks are on the rise

And that my analyst is wise

That all the wine I sip is white

And that my hot tub is watertight

That racquetball won’t get too tough

That all my sushi’s fresh enough

I pray my smart phone would still work

That my career won’t lose its perks

My microwave won’t radiate

My condo won’t depreciate

I pray my health club doesn’t close

And that my money market grows

If I go broke before I wake

I pray my Ford F150 they won’t take.

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Cute! The evangelical church at large is failing to treasure heavenly things and there are so many examples of how evangelicals are simply treasuring the things of the world.

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I don’t want to be like that! So, the question is: will you treasure earthly treasures or will you treasure heavenly treasures? If you treasure earthly treasure, that treasure will be destroyed and more. If you treasure heavenly treasures, you’ll receive eternal reward that nothing could take away from you.

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Imagine the tragedy of appearing before God’s throne and with 20/20 spiritual hindsight, knowing that you’re whole life has been filled with darkness and only earthly treasure.

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Be sure you are single-minded in your service to God, not wealth. It’s easy to suppress the truth on this point. The sin of greed is no respecter of social status. It’s not that greed only affects the rich or only affects the poor or those in between.

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It is easy to deceive yourself on this. Who confesses that he desires this world too much? Who would admit that he’s covetous? Who comes to the pastor for spiritual counseling saying, “I’m greedy, please help?” Yet it is the greedy who are named along side homosexuals who will not enter the kingdom of heaven in 1 Co. 6:9-10. Where is your treasure?

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Are you denying the truth about what role wealth plays in your life? Do you know? Are you storing up treasures in heaven? Is your earthly wealth simply another means to gain heavenly wealth?

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TRANS: Last time we looked at vv.19-21. Now, in vv.23-24, Jesus illustrates the importance of storing up treasures in heaven in 2 ways. He says it is possible that someone could be deceived about what they are truly serving. He illustrates that possibility with eyesight. He also says that it is impossible to serve both God and wealth. He illustrates that with a slave master. In those illustrations, we learn one key point and it’s this: You need to have single-minded service to God, not wealth. Take a look at your life. You need to have single-minded service to God, not any earthly treasure.

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  1. Make certain that you are singled-minded in your service to God (vv.22-23)
    1. Eye is like a lamp

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ILL: Last winter, after supper, when I would go and get wood from the shed, it would be pitch black. I’d get out there and realize I needed to split a few logs and that I forgot a flashlight. So I would take on my cell phone and using the flashlight, it would light the shed enough to where I could split some wood.

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The light guided me, it shed some light in the shed, I guess! That light guided me. Jesus said…

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Matthew 6:22 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body …

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Your physical eye is like that. It guides you. Just like a lamp guides your way, so your eye guides you. That is, if it’s healthy.

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  1. Healthy eye and a bad eye

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    He says…

Matthew 6:22–23 22 “… if your eye is clear (or healthy), your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad (or unhealthy), your whole body will be full of darkness.

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Makes sense… If you have a healthy eye, your body is full of light, that is, you can see! If you have a bad eye … maybe cataracts or blindness, you can’t see, your whole body is full of darkness.

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I get that, but what’s the point? Jesus surely isn’t giving an ophthalmology lesson.

So we have to dig a little bit, ok? We need to realize that Jesus has been talking about greed. Verses 19-21 talk about treasuring earthly treasure as well as vv. 24 talks about serving wealth. What do these verses in the middle here, about the eye, have to do with wealth?

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TRANS: So we need to go a little deeper. It must have something to do with us spiritually.

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  1. Symbolism: eye, light, clear, bad

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    And sure enough, when you study the “eye” it is often used spiritually. So, get this: the eye here is a picture of our hearts or our minds. For example, Jesus says elsewhere in…

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Matthew 7:3 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Jesus isn’t really talking about our eyes. That illustrates our care for each others’ hearts.

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Or take Peter in 2 Peter 2:14 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin…

Eph. 1:18 since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened…Or again Jesus says…John 9:39 39 “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Eyesight illustrates spiritual realities in Scripture and in Matthew 6, it illustrates the heart. “If your heart is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”

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Further in v.22 now, we read about the eye being clear or bad. These are spiritual terms too. The word ‘clear’ in spiritual contexts refers to being sincere or devoted. It’s used that way for example in Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity (or single-minded or devotion) of your heart, as to Christ;

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A devoted slave, a single-minded slave, he’ll work well for His master. This is why the KJV translates this word “single” in our text this morning. A single eye is to have a single focus, a single goal, one goal in mind, undivided loyalty.

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So this is no a biology lesson on the eyeball.

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Matthew 6:22 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body [your eye guides you like a lamp does]; so then if your eye is clear (meaning, if your heart is “single” devoted to God), your whole body will be full of light.

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Ok, if you have single-minded devotion to Christ, you will be full of light. What does that mean? So we have to understand “light.”

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Now, light often expresses coming to salvation. In fact it is used that way in the book of Matthew. For example, Matthew 4:16 says, THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT [that’s Jesus], AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” [they came to know Christ as their Saviour from sin]

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Or in Matthew 5 Jesus says… Matthew 5:14–15 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

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To give light is to help people, through your good works … to help them to come to Christ to be saved. Just like Jesus says in the next verse…

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Matthew 5:16 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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So let’s put it together. Look at verse 22, if your heart is devoted to God, you will be full of light, that is you will have salvation. But if your heart is evil, you will have darkness, no salvation. Somebody who is born again then has a single, devoted heart toward God. They are redeemed, they have the light of life, the power of sin has been broken, and the Holy Spirit dwells in them, wealth in this life is so insignificant.

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The punch line however, is at the end of verse 23. “If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

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If you think that your eye is good and you think yourself to be full of light and understanding and of salvation, but in reality your eye is bad, and really you are full of darkness… and your life shows that you are in fact committed to material possessions and wealth, how great is your darkness! You think you are redeemed but you’re not. You think you’re born again, but in reality, if you would just take an honest look at your life, you’d see a totally different picture: You serve earthly treasure! That person, because of self-deception, is totally in the dark about his standing before God. Not only is he not saved, he thinks he is. That makes his spiritual condition especially dark!

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ILL: For example, how shocked will many people be when they appear before the Lord Jesus?

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… “Many will say to Jesus on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then He will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

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The light that was in them was darkness…they thought themselves to be doing the works of God…, and because what they really had in them was darkness, how great is their darkness!

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Now, somebody asks, “How can I know if I am like that guy?” Or, “How can that guy be rescued?” He needs to understand his spiritual condition. He needs to take Jesus at his word and do an honest self-evaluation.

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Am I bearing fruit that is in keeping with repentance? I’m not asking are you struggling with storing up earthly treasure, I’m asking do you fail to struggle with storing earthly treasure? You sin, and you go on, happily living for this world. You might feel bad, but you keep going with it. You think, “I’m pursuing God, loving Him” but really, an honest look at your life shows that you are pursuing money and pleasure, comforts in this life, prestige and worldly success, vain attention from others.

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If that’s you, how great is your darkness! Make certain that you are singled-minded in your service to God: take a look at your life and see where your treasure really is.

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TRANS: So, be sure to get the point then: You can’t serve God and wealth!

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  1. Serve God not Wealth (v.24)

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Matthew 6:24 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

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Since you can’t serve both, true Christians don’t serve wealth, they serve God!

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A slave master demands that his slave be available to him 24 hours a day. If for some strange reason two slave masters both decided to own one slave, that slave would be in a world of hurt. How could he be owned by both slave masters? It’s not at all like having 2 jobs.

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The reality is he would not be able to serve both masters. Either he’ll love one and hate the other…or he’ll either be devoted to the one and despise the other.

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If one said, “Clean the house” and he was serving the other master at the time, he’d be in big trouble.

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He has divided interests. “Hate the one…despising….” Can you imagine that because your default is serving wealth, in reality you are despising and hating God? That’s what humanity does when they serve wealth. There is enmity and hostility toward God!

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So somebody attempts to be devoted to both God and wealth…money, possession, earthly treasures, he has an evil eye and so he does not have a clear vision. He is disoriented in his direction in life. God’s desires for him, God’s claim on his life is all lost in his spiritual darkness and he is groping around in the dark trying to find his way. Because his allegiance is divided, he is lost!

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It is like the guy in Pilgrim’s progress whose name is Mr. Facing-both-ways. If you are facing both ways, you’re going nowhere. Your devotion is divided and you’re going nowhere fast, like two cows tied together trying to go opposite ways.

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If that’s you and you have divided interests, repent. Maybe you are born again and you’ve been tempted in this area. Intend before the Lord to use the smallest piece of straw on your property for God’s glory.

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But perhaps you really are serving wealth and have been your whole life, however long or however brief it might be. If God’s testimony of you is that you serve wealth, you’re not serving God, which means you need to be delivered from your sin!

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Call upon the name of the Lord, fall to your knees before Him, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 6.22-24

So instead of being like Ananias and Sapharia, we need to be like another man we studied this week, and that’s Barnabas. He owned some land and sold it and brought the money and laid at the apostles feet. He was a man that was full the Holy Spirit and of wisdom and served God single-mindedly. He wasn’t acting like he was giving more than he was. He was honest with his dealings attempting to be a blessing to other Christians for the sake of the glory of God.

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At that time many people came to Christ on the day of Pentecost. They were from out of town so to speak because they were there for the Old Testament feast of Pentecost. And when they repented of sin and trusted in Christ knowing of the power of Christ and his resurrection of the day of Pentecost as it was displayed among the disciples with the speaking in tongues in the miracles, they were baptized and there were 3000 Christians all of a sudden right there from all over the known world. We have to care for them!

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And so the disciples saw the needs and met those needs. Some came with wealth others didn’t. They were local Christians who trusted Christ who, like Barnabas, sought to be those needs by selling land and property and bring that money and laying it at the apostles feet. They used their wealth not for the sake of selfish indulgence but for the sake of building Christian community and establishing relationships in order to progress the gospel message, both spiritually and geographically.

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And that is what we were called to do. Our wealth, everything that we have, our hearts, all should have a single-minded focus. We serve God with everything. We think lightly and hold loosely to the things of this world and we use those things for the furtherance of Christ’s rule upon the earth.

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So you have a choice. Either serve God or serve wealth. Earthly treasures or heavenly treasures. Have a single mind toward God and eternal riches or focus on the dust of this earth. One will be your friend forever and ever and the other you leave this world empty-handed.

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Where will you set your treasure, to what will you be devoted? And, so choose you this day whom you will serve? The idols of this world, temporary dust or serve the Lord and get treasure in heaven.

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560 Take My Life and Let it Be

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