Living For God and How to View Money (Matt 6:19-24)

Bible Passage: Matthew 6:19-24

In this passage, Jesus continues to elaborate on the life he is calling his disciples to, and he turns his attention to the topic of money. Unlike previous parts of the sermon, there is no direct contrast with the practice of the leaders of the day. Instead, Jesus views money itself as a rival to God for our hearts’ affections and this is what he wants to address. The passage contains three brief sayings that in some ways resemble the proverbs, and together they warn us against a life that is focussed on money.

Treasure In the Right Place: The first saying (v19-21) takes aim at those who hoard wealth on earth. They issue isn’t with earning or with spending, as these are part of the normal fabric of life. It is with storing up. This is about a mind an attitude to wealth that can never be content and is always seeking more. Perhaps it is tied to a desire for status or security and a belief that more money would be the way to get those things. But earthly wealth is temporary and transient. Jesus instead points us to store up treasure in heaven (our relationship with God and people we can see saved) which will last for eternity.

Jealousy and Contentment: This saying (v22-23) may seem more difficult to understand than the others. They key phrase in v23 is ‘if your eye is evil’. Some translations obscure this by using the word unhealthy, but the idea is a reference to the ‘evil eye’, specifically envy for what somebody else had. Jesus says if your are envious and jealous of what your neighbour has then you will be in darkness, but if you can be content with what you have (the healthy eye) then you will be full of light.

Worship and Wealth: Verse 24 is the only occasion we have where Jesus gives a personal name to a false god – mammon. He is elaborating the point that he made in verse 21. If we see money as our priority then it has our heart, and our relationship becomes one of worship. On the other hand if God is the priority then our worship of him will leave us freed to use money as a tool and we can be generous with what we have in the service of his kingdom.

Potential Applications:

  • The challenge in this passage is stark and you should let the words carry weight. In the west many of us store up treasure on earth at the expense of treasure in heaven and this could be a moment for self-reflection, repentance and change.
  • Turn people’s eyes to God. It is one thing to say ‘worship God not money,’ but show people why God is so much more worthy of our hearts and why worshipping him is truly the best way to live.
  • This sermon could work well around the time of a special offering as you encourage people to use their wealth as part of their worship (or if not you may wish to make application to regular giving to church and/or the poor).