September 6, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Saturday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 68:1-19, 2 Sam. 19:11-23, 2 Cor. 9
Evening – Psalm 67, 93, Mt. 6:19

Commentary, Matthew 6:19-34

Let us be honest in religion.  Let our faith be true.  This great thought rings throughout Scripture.  Isaiah 29:13 rebukes Israel for honouring God with their lips while removing their heart far from Him.  James 1:8 warns against double mindedness.  The prophet Elijah challenged Israel, “How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

In a very real sense, this is the same subject addressed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.  He is speaking to the Jewish people, who outwardly claim to be the chosen people of God and the keepers of His law.  But Christ knows most of them are half-hearted about following God, and they are deceiving themselves.  They are also insulting God, assuming He, who called and preserves them will be satisfied with the crumbs and leftovers of their time and love.  As though a few thoughtless minutes of prayer and a mindless, mechanical self-righteousness are all He wants.  Real mercy and forgiveness, rather than revenge; love and blessing rather than hate and cursing, inward faith and obedience rather than outward show of religion is the point made time after time in this sermon.

Our Lord continues to make this point in our readings for tonight.  “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  If your treasure consists of the praise of men and the trinkets of earth, your heart will be with them on earth.  They will be the focus of your life.  Your dreams and actions will be about them.  If God is your treasure, if you value Him above all else, even above your own life, your heart will be with Him.

But your heart cannot be in both places.  This is because both demand your all.  The world demands unthinking acceptance of its maxims.  It demands unthinking execution of them.  It may camouflage its maxims in words like “freedom,” “tolerance,” and, “the common good,” but it allows no freedom of thought and no questioning of its authority.  God also demands all.  The difference is, He is honest about it.  He tells us the way of the world is the way of death.  He demands complete and willing obedience.  He requires you to love Him more than you love your possessions, even more than you love yourself and your life.

Obviously, we cannot give both God and mammon first place in our lives.  Attempts to serve both equally only lead us to hate one or the other of them.  Thus, our Lord invites us to “Consider the lilies.”  The point is that He cares for them and He cares for His people also.  His care for us may not always be what we want.  He may allow sorrow or sickness to oppress us.  He will, one day allow death take us from this world.  But in all these things; maybe, especially in all these things, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”