“Eyes on the Master” – Matthew 6:19–24

September 18, 2022

“Eyes on the Master” – Matthew 6:19–24

Passage: Matthew 6:19-24
Service Type:

Hear now, the word of the Lord from Matthew, chapter six, starting in verse 19.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, 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 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 the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:19-24, ESV

This is the Word of the Lord. As many of you know, my wife and I are foster parents. As a part of being foster parents, as a part of retaining our license, we have to do so many hours of continuing education every year to keep that license current. As we go to various conferences and attend various trainings and read various books, one of the subjects that keeps coming up again and again is the subject of trauma. Over the last 25 years or so, there's been an increased recognition that what happens to the body, especially trauma to the body, dealing with in foster care sadly, cases of abuse or neglect. What happens to the body can have a big effect on what happens in the brain. That our bodies and our brains do not exist or operate independently. But what happens to the body affects the brain, and then what happens to the brain can have an effect on the body.

I'm reading a book right now about a man who has done a lot of pioneering work in this field. He talks about a formative time in his career in learning some of these things where he was dealing with a child after child who was dealing with various cases of trauma. He mentioned one time, for example, to give a very simple example of how this works, of a child had been brought out of trauma, that asleep would have the resting heart rate be at 160 beats per minute. Children are supposed to be 70 to 90 beats per minute. Even in sleep, this child was always in fight or flight survival mode. So even sleeping would have a heart rate of 160 beats per minute. What happens to a body affects our brain, and what happens to a brain can then have a significant effect on our bodies.

Now, I think this work is important. I have a great heart for some of the trauma that children have experienced that that can affect their brain and their brain development and can affect their education. It's hard to learn when you're always in survival mode. It can eventually affect their ability to do critical thinking and to make good choices later in life. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this work because I see firsthand how important this is.

But as a Christian, I also recognize that this isn't the whole story. And you go to some of these trainings and they present this as the whole thing, that if you can just unwind, unravel some of the difficulties that happen to the body and the effect that that's had on the brain, then voila, someone will be healed. It doesn't take into effect that we are not just brains and bodies. So that what happens to the body does affect the brain and what happens to the brain affects the body. But we are not just bodies and brains, we are also spiritual. We are a holistic union of both body and brain, the physical over here and soul, the spiritual. Material as well as immaterial. We are connected as whole people in this way.

Now, one key place where we see we're the way the Bible talks about the connections between our bodies and our soul, and it's all over the Bible if we're ready to look for it. But one of the key ideas the Bible talks about it again and again is the connection between our eyes and our souls. What happens with our physical bodies affects us spiritually. What we see has a huge effect, Jesus says, on the people we become, on our character, on our hearts. On whom we are deep in our souls.

So our big idea this morning is that our eyes shape our hearts to serve a master. As we look at this passage, three parts.
1. What Do You Seek?
2. What Do You See?
3. Whom Do You Serve?

What Do You Seek?

So in this first part, Jesus begins to ask us, what do you seek? What is it that you treasure? What is it that you love? Now Jesus is going to talk a lot about the earthly treasures of material possessions, of wealth. But really, this expands into everything and so we're going to kind of try to keep our eyes on both of those elements as we go through this passage. But before we start in this part of the passage in particular, let's remind ourselves where we are in this passage.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in chapter six verses one through 18, Jesus was dealing with the hypocrisy that would try to deceive others about our own spirituality. The hypocrisy that would try to convince other people that we are, in fact, more spiritual, more pious, more righteous, more holy than we are. By practicing righteousness, externally in front of other people, so that they see it. They look upon what we're doing and they say, hey, that must be a really spiritual person. Jesus warned us about, rather than seeking that kind of a piousness, a spirituality, that we need to practice our righteousness in secret before the God who sees in secret.

Well, one of my favorite commentators, R.C. Linsky, is his name. He writes about this passage. He says, "When Jesus turns the corner into verse 19, he's still talking about deception. But he's not talking about trying to deceive other people. He's talking about deceiving ourselves. That as we go into the treasure things of our heart, we are very prone to self-deception, to being self-deceived about what's happening in our hearts."

So he says in verse 19, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth." Now, what this translation does a little bit is to hide the power of what Jesus is saying, where he uses the same word in slightly different forms. I'll try to bring out it by using the translation, "Stop treasuring earthly treasures." Jesus tells us why, it's very simple. Earthly treasures are things that can corrupt and corrode. Moths can devour them. Rust can rot them away. Thieves can break into your house and steal them. Stop treasuring earthly treasures.

Ten Jesus says, on the other hand, start doing something different. "Start treasuring heavenly treasures." Because the opposite is true of heavenly treasures. Moth and rust can't devour or destroy them. Thieves can't break in and steal them. Heavenly treasures are, on the whole, much more secure than earthly treasures.

So we have to ask, what are these earthly treasures? What are these heavenly treasures? And why are one kind of treasure more appealing to us naturally? So the earthly treasures, again, things that we readily understand. Especially Jesus is talking a lot in these passages about our wealth, about our material possessions, about our creature comforts, about the kinds of things that we want to gain with our wealth.

Jesus says, these are things that do not last. These are things that cannot ultimately satisfy you, so stop treasuring these treasures. They might even slip through your fingers. They will slip through your fingers. Even if you possess them. You cannot guarantee that you will continue to possess them. So why waste your time treasuring these kinds of things? Instead Jesus says, start treasuring these heavenly treasures.

Now it's more than just the case that moth and rust can't destroy them and the thieves can't steal them. When Jesus is talking about heavenly treasures, he is ultimately talking about treasuring God. It's not that we love and worship and serve God and try to obey God so that we can get something else. Lord, I'm serving you so that I can get what I really want. Well, then we're right back to treasuring something else. Something that is not the Creator, but is rather a part of creation.

Rather what Jesus says is we should treasure the one from whom all blessings flow. We should treasure the one who created all things by the word of his power. We should treasure the Creator and not the creation, not the material blessings of this world. Treasure God.

Hat Jesus says in verse 21, is to say that when we treasure these things, this is going to be something that involves the entirety of our person. The unity of our material and physical bodies and brains, as well as the depths of our spiritual, immaterial souls. So Jesus says this in verse 21, "For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."

Now, what's Jesus talking about when he talks about the heart? Is he talking about the organ that pumps the blood through our body? Well, no, that organ doesn't treasure something. He's talking about the spiritual sense. If you read throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, heart is a word that refers to this idea of our spiritual souls. It's the seat of who we are as people. It's the immaterial, nonphysical, spiritual part of this holistic unity that we have as a body and souled people.

You think about what happens when you treasure something. Your brain gets involved. You start thinking about it. You start daydreaming about it. You start scheming how you can get the thing that you most treasure. Your brain is actively involved in what you want. Think about your body. Your body might feel jittery or anxious at the prospect of getting what you want. You might have a pit in your stomach if you don't feel like you're going to get what you want. You might feel elated or euphoric the closer you reach to your goals. Our brains are involved. Our bodies are involved. Jesus also says that our souls will be involved.

This is where the deception can happen, because our souls start to reach for things. They start to trick our brains so that our brains are hijacked from just thinking rationally and reasonably. Rather they are put into the service of figuring out how we can get what we most want. This unity of a person, we are self-deceived so that where our treasure is, our heart is going to be bound up in that.

Now again, I want to go back to what I said at the beginning of this sermon. There's been a breakthrough in the last 25 to 30 years, thinking psychologically in terms of neurology, to understand this deep connection we all have between our body and our brain. But as Christians, the scriptures actually tell us even more than that. It's not just a physical, physiological action, it isn't just the firing of our cells and our synapses of chemical and hormonal kinds of things in us. There's something deeply spiritual at stake. Jesus says these things are not unwound as easily as we wish they were.

So the question we have to ask at this point in what Jesus is teaching us is this; how do we grow in love for one thing and how do we leave off love for another thing? If we are treasuring the wrong treasure now, Earthly created treasures, how do we instead treasure the uncreated heavenly treasures of God, the Creator of all things? That's not something we can just pull some levers in our hearts and make to work. That's not something that you can just hear one sermon and wow, you're cured. Isn't that wonderful? I can't give you the book that will fix the deep wound, the deep scars in your souls. I can't even do it for myself.

Jesus goes on here to teach about this fundamental connection that happens between our hearts, the depths of our souls and our bodies. Especially in our physical eyes. Look at what Jesus says in the next section, where he's not just asking us what we seek, what it is that we love and treasure. He then shifts the conversation to say, "What do you see."

What Do You See?

Now, some commentators don't understand the connection here. They say, well, Jesus is just talking about a related subject, a parallel thing is happening in our eyes and in our hearts. But Jesus is really driving what the Bible says everywhere. That there is a connection between our bodily eyes and the depths of our souls. He's not teaching us a lesson about anatomy. This isn't something that you would learn at a medical school. He's talking about the spiritual reality, that there is a forged connection between what we see and what we love.

So look at what Jesus says, he says in verse 22, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness?" Now Jesus isn't confused. This isn't first century optometry, and boy, we've progressed way far beyond this. He's not talking about physical light that penetrates into the body. Ancient people's new way more about the body than we give them credit for. They knew that the body was not full of light in a physical kind of a sense.

Jesus is rather saying that your physical eyes shape the desires of your heart for good or for ill. You will come to treasure and to love what it is that you see. Because what you see get your focus. It gets your attention and gets your concentration and pricks thinking. Now, a lot of this does happen through our physical eyes, although the rest of the Bible sort of fills out this picture. It's not just even the physical eyes that take this in. They're all what Paul calls in Ephesians 1:18, the eyes of our hearts. There Paul also prays that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened.

The eyes are sort of the function of everything that by which we are taking in the world around us, by which we are evaluating the world around us. Our eyes either take in light, and Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened and Jesus is insisting that our physical eyes should be gazing upon light, or we will be full of darkness. Not physical light, physical darkness, but he's talking about spiritual things.

Remember, the heavenly treasures that Jesus wants us to have are not things that can be viewed with physical eyes. But what Jesus is saying here is that our eyes, both physical and spiritual, are going to shape our hearts. There's a forged connection there. This is something that is real, whether we like it or not. If you gaze upon light, that is, particularly if you gaze upon God in his word, your eyes are going to take in spiritual light. But if you fixate upon darkness, that is the darkness of creation. If you treasure anything in creation, you're going to take your eyes off the one who is pure, perfect light, God Himself, and going to look at creation.

This doesn't mean that creation is bad or evil in itself. It means that treasuring any created thing, any earthly treasures is wrong. Why? Because we look at the world around us and we think that there's light in the world. We think that there's something to be gained in the world. We think that there is illumination from the world. But whenever we see any light in the world, it's like seeing the light of the moon. The moon doesn't. Have its own light. The only thing that can do is to reflect light from another source.

If we look upon earthly treasures and we see light in them, and that we're gazing upon them and trying to take them in, Jesus says that will only be darkness and how great will be the darkness. If the light in you is darkness, how great will be that darkness?

So Jesus again is warning us. Be careful about what it is that you love and therefore be careful about what it is that you see. You will treasure what you are gazing upon. So to treasure something different, you must put your eyes in a different place. Now I want to be clear about something. My daughter is just right now learning to play the clarinet. It's reminded me a lot of when I first learned to play the alto saxophone in fifth grade when I was her age.

They break apart all the different skills, she's going to have to receive full training, but right now, all she can do is just sort of put the mouthpiece together and play through that. She's just supposed to buzz this mouthpiece at home. So it's just really special music right now, but she's learning the way to blow into this and just produce a sound. Then she's going to learn how to blow through the whole horn, and then she's going to have to learn the fingerings of the clarinet. Then she's going to have to work to get the right tone. Then she's going to have to work on all of these skills at the same time and breathing and tone and dynamics and everything that's going to go into making beautiful music.

This is a skill that can be picked up. This is a skill that can be learned. I picked it up back in the day. My daughter is picking it up right now. But because this is a skill that can be picked up, it is also a skill that can be put down. The last time I touched my saxophone was when I was putting it back in its case, after my last concert of my senior year. I haven't touched it since. These are skills that I no longer have. I picked them up. I put them down. I no longer use these skills.

Jesus is not talking about cultivating particular skills. Boy, if you just do this in the right way, if you just practice this with the right degree, you can do whatever you want. This isn't mind over matter thinking. This isn't a way to speak your truth into existence. Jesus is not talking about a skill that you pick up. He is talking about a fundamental reality, whether you like it or not. He's talking about what happens, whether you're ready or not. He's talking about what's going on in your soul, whether you realize it or not. What you see affects who you become. Your eyes shape your hearts whether to love light or to love darkness. It's not an optional thing you may or may not do as an elective in your life. This has radical eternal consequences for your souls.

Whom Do You Serve?

In the final section Jesus brings this point to its logical conclusion. It's not just that our eyes shape our hearts. It's that our eyes shape our hearts to serve a master. The final question, the third question is, "Whom do you serve"? so Jesus says in verse 24 says this, "No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Why does Jesus talk about money? Because love of money is the root of all evil. Whatever you want in life, well, ostensibly, you can get it with money. Money gets you what you want, at least of the created order. At least in this world, money can get you whatever you want.

So whether you want this over here or that over there, money is probably the common denominator that'll get you here you want to go. So Jesus says you cannot serve two masters. You cannot love God and money. So think back through the logic. He's saying, whatever your eyes are on, maybe it's something in that catalog or as you're scrolling through Amazon. Maybe it's your as you're watching those glitzy home renovation shows and you're thinking, boy if we only had five more figures of money to pour into this house, we could just make our house like what I just saw on TLC. Maybe it's the fashion that you're exposed to. Maybe it's the car that you want. Maybe it's season tickets to a football game. They're probably going cheaper these days. Whatever you want, money can get it for you. Money is the root of all evil and Jesus says you cannot serve two masters.

Now, what's Jesus saying here? Well, Jesus is telling us the way things are. He's telling us the truth of the matter. He's saying, ultimately, you cannot serve both the created order as well as the creator himself. He's not saying in this that if you experience desires for the things of this world, that you're not a Christian necessarily. You see, even Christians still possess this remnant of our old corruption of nature. The remnant of original sin, which is always lurching this way and that leading us to go after this way, and that. Trying to direct our eyes to look at this or that. All of us still have this. Our call is to continue to mortify this, to put it to death, to crucify it with Christ. But until glory that will not finally be put away.

The presence of desires for things other than Christ does not mean that you were not a Christian. It just means you have to go back to the cross and find healing and find forgiveness and find renewal in your soul. But Jesus is warning us that we can't dabble in these things don't keep your eyes there. Don't let your heart ponder that treasure that, cultivate that.

This is a call to discern that our eyes are shaping our hearts to serve a master. It is happening, whether you think it or not, whether you want it to or not. We think we go through life. Making our own choices. I call the shots. I can quit whenever I want. And Jesus is saying you are actually. Digging yourself deeper into servitude to one master or another. The question is which master? Are you surfing? Which master is your eyes? Training your heart to serve?

Are your eyes training your heart to serve? Spiritual speaking, this is happening. You will serve whomever you love. You will love whatever your eyes are set upon. The more you gaze, the more you will love in the depths of your spiritual soul. Therefore, the more fully you will serve your master and around and around it goes.

Jesus is teaching us here deep truths about who we are as people. These are hard truths because maybe they fly in the face of our deception, our self-deception, of who we are and how much control we have over our lives.


Then should we do with what Jesus teaches us here? Understand we unthinkingly give our attention, our energy, our thoughts, our eyes to so many things. What do you watch on television? What do you read? What do you listen to? What do you think about. When you have a moment to daydream with the eyes of your heart's gazing upon those things. Every day, these glimpses, these glances, these thoughts are not meaningless. They truly shape our souls. Specifically, they shape us to serve a master. We must choose wisely.

Now, if we think about this and how to deal with this, how to apply this to our lives, we must remember that Jesus is speaking in the absolutist language of the law. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is giving us the highest, the greatest perspective of perfection of what God demands from us. Anything falling short from this is sin. Anything fallen short from this falls short of the glory of God into sin. We have to keep this in mind as we read this. The law demands that we love the Lord with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength. God should captivate our entire attention.

None of us is going to do this perfectly. None of us can do this perfectly. That's not to lower the standard. Well, if none of us can do this perfectly, then really, we only need to do it this well. Jesus says, no, no, no. The standard is high, infinitely high as heaven. But Jesus intends for us to apply this teaching in three ways.

First of all, to see just how far short we fall from the glory of God. Unless you are doing this infinitely, perfectly well, which none of us is, then you fall short of the glory of God. And God condemns you by His law for the fact that you have not loved Him in the way that He deserves. You have not loved Him as infinitely much as He requires. The answer to this, the solution to this is what we've been talking about, this entire service. It's that we must repent from our sins and we must look to Jesus Christ for salvation. Look to Jesus to be forgiven of our sins. Look to Christ to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves, to forgive us from our sins, to cleanse us from our impurities and iniquities, and to create in us a clean heart to serve and love the Lord.

The thing is, we often look around, well, at least I am not caught up in greed and covetousness like those people over there. That can be a smokescreen. We may be clear on their hearts, but we're deceived about our own. Jesus has hard words for the hypocrites, and Jesus has hard words for us. Don't deceive others. Don't deceive yourself.

The second thing that Jesus intends for us to do as we apply this teaching is simply to recognize that our sideways glances are not innocent or harmless. We have a lot of expressions in English that get at this idea. It's really no big deal. Well, there's no harm in looking. Look, but don't touch. Oh, I'm just browsing. No big deal. But Jesus is saying, understand your eyes are connected to your soul. The eye bone's connected to the soul bone, we might say. Except your soul isn't a bone. It's immaterial, it's spiritual. But there's a direct pipeline between what you see and who you become.

So what Jesus wants us to do then, there's a third thing, is to redouble our diligence in single eye devotion to Christ. When Jesus says, if your eye is healthy, he says literally, "If your eye is single." If your eye is single eyed, not like a cyclops, like if your eye is focused on one thing: on Jesus Christ. As a church our passion is to help people to see the glory of Christ. But for us to see the glory of Christ, we are talking about seeing a heavenly treasure that right now is invisible. It is veiled from our sight, is kept in heaven, and certainly it's unspoiled. It will not perish, it cannot fade away. Yet we cannot see it with our eyes. We can see a world of treasures here, but we cannot see the greatest treasure that we have in Christ.

So as a church, our passion is to help people to see the glory of Christ. What are we talking about? Well, again, Jesus tells us here and the rest of the Bible unfolds what this means. The whole Bible is getting us to see the glory of Christ in the Gospel. We're not seeing something with our physical eyes. Even the blind can see this, the physically blind can see this. We are to see things with our spiritual eyes, whereby faith we hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we see in our souls that he is real. That Christ died for sinners. That what he does will purify us for sins for all of those of us who look to Christ in faith.

We see this all over in the Bible. One of my favorite passages is in Galatians 3:1, where Paul is criticizing the Galatians because they have taken their eyes off of Jesus and he says, "Oh, foolish Galatians who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified." Now Galatia is a long way from Jerusalem. Jesus was not publicly crucified in Galatia, but Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified there. How? Well, Paul is very clear in the context, it was through preaching.

It was through the announcement that Jesus Christ died. Paul says there Jesus was publicly portrayed, your eyes saw the crucified, the Savior. Not with an image. Not with the reality in front of you so that your physical eyes could see it visibly. But so that you could see Jesus Christ in the proclamation of the Word and the proclamation of the Gospel.

Elsewhere, Paul adds a detail, an important detail that this requires the grace of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "We all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." And how does this happen? Well, he adds, this line, he says, "For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Notice the line there. We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. How? By beholding Christ. What you see affects who you become. But it requires the Lord who is the Spirit. As a work of grace in our hearts. We cannot do this on our own. These aren't techniques that you can do to work it out in your own life. You need the work of the Holy Spirit working in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is so important because the Bible also says that we have an enemy who wants to keep us blind and in the dark. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul says, "Even if our gospel is veiled", that is people can't see it. "It's veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world", not talking about the true living God, but Satan over whom this world is in his bondage until Christ liberates them. "In their case, those to whom the Gospel is veiled, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

This morning I want to ask, do you see Jesus? Do you see him in his word, it's been throughout this entire service. We've sung the word. We've heard the word read. We saw the word performed in the visible word of the sacrament of baptism. We're going to see it again in the Lord's Supper. Do you see Jesus Christ?

I'm not asking you if you're having an ecstatic vision. I'm not asking if you can see him physically. I'm asking, do you see that he is real by faith? Do you see what the Word of God holds out to you? That Christ is the only savior of sinners? That he died for you. "But God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Christ loved you so much that he came to rescue you from your blindness. Think about all the blind people Jesus healed. It was a picture. That was a partial gift for what Jesus really came to do was to restore their spiritual site. So there's their awakened eyes. Their opened eyes saw Jesus standing in front of them so much more they would see the truth of the Gospel of the Jesus who came to die for them. Not just to open their physical eyes. See Christ, keep your eyes on Christ. Repent from your sins and believe in Christ.

If you do see Jesus this morning. What are you doing setting your eyes on the things of this world? Jesus gives you a warning here. This isn't a game. This isn't something to play with. Can a man take fire near to his chest and not be burned? Can we look upon the things of this world and not be corrupted to desire them? Jesus says no. He's not saying this is a skill that you can pick up and put down. He's saying this will happen. Watch, oh, little eyes, be careful what you see. Watch what you're looking at.

Again, the created world is not bad, but it's just a reflection. If you want what it will truly be satisfying if you want the light of God In the face of Jesus Christ. Hear Jesus's warnings. Stop treasuring the treasures of Earth, But also hear his solution. Start treasuring heavenly treasures. Fix your eyes On Christ, set your eyes on Things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Gaze on Jesus because at the end of the day, no one can serve two masters. Either you will love Christ with eyes fixed on him or you love something else. Where are your eyes this morning? Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you would give us eyes to see Jesus. Eyes to love him. I used to desire him. I used to treasure him. I pray that as we gaze upon Jesus with the eyes of faith, the eyes of our hearts, that you would illuminate them. That you would give us true light shining through our eyes. Not to illuminate the dark caverns of our physical bodies, but to illuminate our souls to love Jesus more and more. I pray that if there are any here who are treasuring darkness, if a treasuring the things of this world thinking that in them, they will have light, I pray that you would show them how great is the darkness and that you would convert them to Christ. Lift their eyes off the things of this world, that those things would become strangely dim in the light of Christ glorious face. We pray this, which we confess and acknowledge as a work of your Spirit, the Lord who is the Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, we pray. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

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